By Paul Richards, BBSRC Policy Fellow at the Society of Biology
This post is the second part of a blog signposting some of the various current initiatives aimed at increasing the diversity of people studying and working in STEM, to coincide with today’s Parliamentary Links Day. The first post covered a broad range of diversity issues; in this post I will focus on more initiatives to tackling gender inequality in STEM. We will be Tweeting from the event with the hashtag #diversityinSTEM.
With women making up 13% of the STEM workforce (WISE 2012) it is clear that there are still many barriers preventing women from participating and progressing in STEM academia and industry; The Royal Society of Edinburgh’s ‘Tapping all Our Talents’ report provides a comprehensive overview of the issues. However, there are now many organisations running a diverse range of initiatives to tackle issues of gender inequality.
WISE have been very proactive in increasing the visibility of women working in STEM. Nominations are open for this year’s WISE Awards for inspiring individuals and organisations that promote women in STEM. Women can also sign up to WISE’s ‘GetSET Women‘ network to help raise their profile and get involved in outreach work.
WiSET also focus on promoting women in STEM and has lots of advice and case studies on progression routes into and beyond STEM education for girls and women, as well as advice for those looking to re-enter STEM employment.
Mentoring schemes offer a useful source of practical advice and support for women in early STEM career stages. Some of our Member Organisations, including the British Pharmacological Society and the Physiological Society, offer mentoring schemes targeted at early stage researchers working in specific fields (the Physiological Society’s is also open to men). The London Mathematical Society, among other activities including grants and a Good Practice Scheme, runs an annual ‘Woman in Mathematics Day’ for students and women in an early stage of their career to meet with other women who are active and successful in mathematics.
Many societies also offer grants targeted at women (but usually also open to men) working in STEM academia, who need to fit their careers family life or caring responsibilities. Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships provide funding to support flexible working for early career researchers.
Several societies, such as the Biochemical Society, which is celebrating 100 years since its first female members joined, have grant schemes to cover childcare costs to allow researchers to participate in conferences and other activities important for career progression and development. Another excellent scheme is run by the The Daphne Jackson Trust, which offers fellowships for researchers who have had a career break to return to work.
Finally, there are several charter and award schemes to formally encourage and recognise proactive gender equality practices in STEM organisations, such as Project Juno from the Institute of Physics. Many organisations are signed up to the WISE CEO Charter and/or the Athena SWAN Charter, recognising their commitments to advancing gender equality. Once again please do check out the links I’ve included in these blog posts, as well as the websites of other STEM organisations, as there are lots of good initiatives and resources out there to promote diversity in STEM. Links to more initiatives are also very much welcome in the comments section!