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Challenging the Leaky Pipeline in Science, Engineering and Technology

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Presentation on theme: "Challenging the Leaky Pipeline in Science, Engineering and Technology"— Presentation transcript:

1 Challenging the Leaky Pipeline in Science, Engineering and Technology
Dr. Ita Richardson FP7-SCIENCE-IN-SOCIETY , Project No

2 Importance of having Women in SET
European and National Agenda “We need to address these issues, not only for the sake of fairness and equality, but for the sake of science and research itself – we need to build our research capacity in Europe.” Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.

3 Importance of having Women in SET
Diversity Economic Growth Social Justice Provision of Role Models Provision of Choice Photographs: Eoin Stephenson, UL

4 Diversity Diversity promotes creativity and innovation
Do we want to continue living in a world built by men for men?

5 Economic Growth Dependent on having an educated workforce
Can we afford to eliminate 50% of the population from SET?

6 Importance of having Women in SET
“The Grand Challenges facing Europe (including climate change and demography) require the full participation of women in its science and technology system…” European Commission, 2012

7 Challenges for Women in SET
Lise Meitner, Nuclear Physicist, Germany, c. 1900: Professor Emil Fischer “did not allow women in his building”. Meitner worked there, “Provided she stay in a converted carpenter’s shop in the basement and never enter any part of the building used by men” Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, 1998

8 Challenges for Women in SET
“I very much wish to be considered together with Madame Curie with respect to our research on radioactive bodies.” Pierre Curie, 1903, when he heard of his Nobel Prize for Physics nomination with Henri Becquerel, but without his wife, Marie Curie, Physicist and Chemist, Poland and France

9 Challenges for Women in SET
Barbara McClintoch, Geneticist, USA, 1936: Mistaking Barbara for someone who had recently announced her engagement, her Dean “threatened her, ‘If you get married, you’ll be fired’” Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, 1998

10 Challenges for Women in SET
Someone else was made first author on a paper “because he was a young man and had a family to support.” Christiane Nusslein-Volhard, early 1970s, Germany.

11 Challenges for Women in SET
Astronomy classes in the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, same percentage of women in 1982 and “Womenfolk play the larger part in the decision. It has been my experience that it is other women who ask (too frequently) whether one really enjoys doing physics.” Jocelyn Bell Burnell, 1982, Belfast.

12 Challenges continue: Gender Audit @ UL
No institutional barriers to one’s career development at university level. Women spent more time generally during the week and weekends on domestic chores than male counterparts. Women in the University appeared to take on more work than their male colleagues. Examples given included the development of new courses and student support. Wilson & Richardson, 2008

13 Research Gender Audit Results % Female % Male
Keynote /plenary/invited speaker external conference/workshop 36 63 Editor of scientific/technical journal or book 17 28 Member of the Editorial Board of an Academic Journal 15 32 Reviewer for International Journal 44 78 Assessor for grant giving bodies 22 55 Appointment to National/international bodies 24 42 Research

14

15 Current Situation

16 Why women leave academia
Women more negatively affected by men regarding ‘string of post-doc positions’ Concerns about competitiveness are fuelled by a relative lack of self-confidence Nature of available role models Perceived by female PhD candidates as aggressive and competitive (male characteristics) Often childless Women are told that their gender ‘will work against them’ UK Resource Centre for Women / Royal Society of Chemistry, 2012

17 Retain and fully employ the competencies and capacities of the whole research force, regardless of gender Women do not lack researchers’ essential characteristics Academic environment is lacking essential characteristics to foster women’s research potential UL Principal Investigator – Prof. Pat O’Connor

18 FESTA: Building on Previous Initiatives External and Internal Funding:
Atlantic Philanthropies, Science Foundation Ireland, UL Human Resources Gender (Science Foundation Ireland) Equality Opportunities Manager Introductory Courses for Women in SET Research in Gender Studies and Sociology Role Models for School Girls

19 Led by University of Uppsala, Sweden
University of Limerick - Faculty of Science & Engineering Universities in Denmark, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria March 1st 2012 to 28th February 2017

20 Qualitative Research Methods: Interviews and Focus Groups
Analyse UL and other Universities Qualitative Research Methods: Interviews and Focus Groups Research Questions: Can we raise awareness regarding career paths? How are formal and informal decisions made? How is excellence defined? What power-plays exist in PhD supervision? (UL not researching) Can we understand resistance? (UL not researching) Implement and Measure Recommendations Analyse Published Research Develop Recommendations from outcomes

21 Encouraging SET female researchers to make a career in academia
Implementing changes in the working environment of academic researchers Encouraging SET female researchers to make a career in academia Remove some of the hurdles which makes this difficult for them Analyse UL and other Universities Implement and Measure Recommendations Analyse Published Research Develop Recommendations from outcomes

22 Human Resource involvement
Analyse UL and other Universities Human Resource involvement Implementation in Faculty of Science and Engineering Results from other Universities implemented in UL Results from UL implemented in other Universities Implement and Measure Recommendations Analyse Published Research Develop Recommendations from outcomes

23 We as a University have to change!
It is not women who are lacking essential characteristics for being good researchers, but it is the academic environment that is lacking essential characteristics for fostering the research potential of women Management Faculty and Women themselves

24 Future Current Situation Thank you! 50/50

25 Acknowledgements University of Limerick team members: Prof. Pat O’Connor, Principal Investigator, FESTA, Dr. Ita Richardson, Principal Investigator , Lero, Tommy Foy, Director of Human Resources, Marie Connolly, HR Shared Transition Services Manager, Alison O’Regan , Learning, Development and Equal Opportunities Officer, Caroline Neylon, HR Officer, Research, Clare O’Hagan, Research Fellow, FESTA FESTA has received funding from the European Union, Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/ ,  under grant agreement No Colleagues in Lero – the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre and the second year B.Sc. In Digital Media and Design students

26 References European Commission, Structural change in research institutions, Enhancing excellence, gender equality and efficiency in research and innovation, 2012. Wilson, D., and I. Richardson, SFI Development Grant Report, 2008. UK Resource Centre for Women / Royal Society of Chemistry, The Chemistry PhD: the impact on women’s retention, 2012. Bertsch McGrayne, S., Nobel Prize Women in Science, 1998.


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