COMMONS

Universities should do more to keep women in science

06 February 2014

Universities must do more to retain women in scientific careers, according to a report from the Science and Technology Committee.

Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"It is astonishing that women still remain under-represented at professorial levels in academia across every scientific discipline. It’s time for universities to pull their socks up.”

Some universities are doing a great job at improving working conditions for women scientists, but others are not. The system of short term contracts is hugely off-putting for many women scientists.

More standardisation is required across the whole higher education sector and that is why we have called for Government, universities and research councils to review the academic careers structure, so that talented women, and men, can have more stable career pathways."

The Committee was also disappointed that BIS funding for the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (UKRC) was significantly cut during the 2010 Spending Review. While the Government recognises the importance of gender diversity in science, its efforts appear to be largely focused on recruiting girls to study STEM subjects rather than on supporting women to stay in science.

Andrew Miller MP concluded:

"It is commendable that the Government wants to inspire girls to choose science at school because this is when major decisions about future careers are made. However, such efforts are wasted if women scientists are then disproportionately and systematically disadvantaged compared to men.

The Government now needs to monitor the effects of its decision to cut diversity funding and pay more attention to the retention of women in science.”

The Committee also called for diversity and equality training to be provided to all STEM university undergraduate and postgraduate students, line managers and members of recruitment and promotion panels.

Further information

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