NMS Women in Science Initiative
The Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences is actively working to support women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in order to address the current imbalance of women working and studying in these areas. In 2013, the NMS Women in Science Initiative was established to assess, address and challenge the inequities women face in their academic careers.
Professor Michael Luck, Dean of the Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences, talks about the importance of the NMS Women in Science Initiative.
Why do we need an NMS Women in Science Initiative?
There is substantial evidence highlighting gender imbalance within science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) careers. In 2010, the Athena ASSET survey showed that at every stage of their career women either still perceive disadvantage, or there remain differences, relative to men. These differences accumulate over the course of an individual’s career to create differences in opportunity and experience.
Women are significantly under represented within the Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences (NMS): only 30% of our students are female and less than 20% of our academic staff are female. If we consider only the top professorial positions, things are even bleaker: the proportion of our male academic staff who are professors is over twice as big as the proportion of our female academic staff who have achieved this position (38% vs. 16%).
Why might a woman's experience of a career in science be different from a man's?
Some of the biases that under-represented groups can face include:
- Unconscious bias
- Conscious bias
- Homophilia – people like to be with people like themselves
- Ambivalent prejudice – hostility towards people in non-traditional roles
- Stereotype threat – underperformance through stereotype anxiety
- Confirmation bias – tendency to favour information that confirms our preconceptions
- Halo effect – one trait influences our perception of another
- Conflict of interests – bias towards people who have helped or can help us
How does this present itself?
- Less likely to be selected/nominated
- Less likely to self-nominate
- Less time to work extra hours, travel, network
- More likely to have had a career interruption
- More likely to be part-time or fixed-term contract, less likely to be appraised
How can we make a difference?
How can we find out more?
The main areas where good practice can make a difference are:
- Appointment and selection
- Outreach with schools
- Career Development
- Early Career Researchers
- Workplace Flexibility
- Career Breaks
- Organisation and culture