Blackman-Woods studied social science and pursued a career in academia, becoming Dean of Social and Labour studies at Ruskin College, Oxford, and then Professor of Social Policy and Associate Dean in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Northumbria.
Prior to the 2010 general election she was a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee.
In June 2010 Blackman-Woods was appointed Shadow Minister for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Roberta Blackman-Woods voted to keep the current time limit of 24 weeks in line with the scientific and medical consensus.
In February 2015 Roberta Blackman-Woods voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to children who would not inherit the disease. An October 2014 briefing report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which had been investigating the issue for three years, stated that there was no evidence to show that mitochondrial donation was unsafe. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed. After clearing both Houses, mitochondrial donation is now legal, regulated by the HFEA.
In 2006, MPs were asked three questions by the Rough Guide's Mark Ellingham on how seriously they took climate change as politicians and as responsible, active citizens. Roberta Blackman-Woods replied:
- "1: It is an extremely important issue at a local, national and international level and it must continue to be a priority in policy terms.
- 2: Britain can make a difference it can do what it is doing already in terms of setting exacting targets for itself in terms of reducing carbon emissions and in trying to secure international and European directives on measures designed to tackle climate change. Britain could do more to tackle carbon emissions as they relate to aviation. More also needs to be done to discourage motorists from using gas guzzling cars. The public need to be made more aware of what they can do as individuals to reduce their own energy emissions and carbon footprint. Britain needs to support the dissemination of scientific information about climate change so the public is more aware of the evidence that is now available. It should also vigorously encourage the development of renewable energy sources.
- 3: I have signed up to the challenge to reduce my carbon emissions by 25%. I have also communicated this to all my constituents and I have asked them to do the same and sign up for this challenge. I continue to press the local council to make the building of low energy use buildings a priority. I speak in parliamentary debates on this subject where possible. I have ongoing sharing of information between my office and my constituents about energy supplies, energy use the energy review, climate change and global warming. I am a member of the All Parliamentary Climate Change Group."
In November 2010, Roberta Blackman-Woods signed Early Day Motion 767: Science is Vital Campaign. The motion stated that the house "believes that continued investment in research is vital in order to meet the technological and social challenges of the 21st century, and to continue to attract high-tech industries to invest here; further believes that large cuts to science funding are a false economy, due to evidence that research investment fuels economic growth".
EDM 767 was proposed before the results of the October 2010 comprehensive spending review, which was expected to contain significant cuts to science funding. However, by the time Blackman-Woods signed the motion, the Conservative/LibDem coalition government had already announced the spending review's conclusions and cuts to science were significantly less than anticipated, with the government apparently echoing some of the language of the Science is Vital Campaign.
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