UK seeks to get female scientists back to work

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Publication date: 1 November 2003

Abstract

Citation

(2003), "UK seeks to get female scientists back to work", Career Development International, Vol. 8 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/cdi.2003.13708fab.006

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited


UK seeks to get female scientists back to work

UK seeks to get female scientists back to work

The UK government has announced a £1.5 million package to encourage female scientists to return to science and more women to pursue successful scientific careers.

Women are traditionally under-represented in science, engineering and technology (SET). Only one sixth of SET graduates working in the field are women; it is estimated that 50,000 female SET graduates are not working at any one time; of those who do return, only around 8,000 go back to a job that uses their qualifications and training; and as few as one in 20 SET and maths professors in higher education are women.

The government strategy is a response to Baroness Susan Greenfield’s “SET Fair” report, commissioned by trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt, to look into how Britain can recruit and retain more women in science, engineering and technology.

A new £800,000 science centre will work with employers and female scientists to improve recruitment and retention and there will be more help for women wanting to return to work after career breaks.

Patricia Hewitt said: “I want to see more women starting, staying and succeeding in science. Britain has a world-class science base but we will only keep it if we use all our potential talent and not just half the pool. It is also vital for the success of our economy that we make the most of our female scientists”.

Baroness Greenfield commented: “I am delighted and excited that the government is putting real money into this vital initiative. The measures it has chosen to fund will really make a difference both to women who are already engaged in research and those who are contemplating a career in science”.

The key new initiatives are:

  • An £800,000 science centre will be set up to deliver a range of measures, including: recognizing and rewarding good employers; raising the profile of women in science; a database of expert women; mentoring and net-working schemes; and spreading best practice. The resource centre will also co-ordinate existing activity.

  • £500,000 to encourage women to return after career breaks. The speed at which scientific knowledge advances makes returning after time out difficult. Some 50,000 women science, engineering and technology graduates are not working at any one time. Of those who do return, only around 8,000 go back to a job that uses their qualifications and training.

  • A new independent implementation group to oversee the strategy’s progress and impact over the next two years.