Athena Swan

Athena Swan promotes and supports the careers of women in Science, Engineering and Technology (STEM), and aims to address gender inequalities and imbalance in these disciplines and, in particular, the under-representation of women in senior roles.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

In the news - monthly round-up

After the deluge of new studies, reports and articles before Christmas, it has been comparatively quiet of late, so flagging up those which are published is all the more important. So here goes with the first news round-up of 2105 - even if it is February already!

The NY Times has been the chief source of articles so far, ranging from the monthly series on 'Women at Work' by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (the CEO of Facebook and a professor at Wharton, respectively), to blatant gender bias in student ratings on ratemyprofessors.com, to the economic perils of a growth in STEM jobs which are still overwhelmingly filled by white men. While it is easy to dismiss these stories as having an American bias, stories from elsewhere make it clear these problems are everyone's responsibility. For instance, Women in Science Australia looked at why one very promising biomedical researcher nearly threw in the towel after 8 years post-PhD - and it was nothing to do with being female/pregnant/Australian.

In the UK, Athene Donald's blog continues to prod and challenge people into action. This year's topics have already included creating a better work culture for all in academe, discouraging the addition of 'lady' or 'female' before the job title when introducing colleagues (it's not a compliment - really!) and a potted history of the Athena SWAN movement, with which she has been heavily involved. The Guardian also has a regular 'Women in Leadership' column, most recently offering advice to those planning conferences on how to broaden diversity in public events (it's really not that hard) and why trotting out the 'obvious' reasons why women can't/won't/shan't succeed in ambitious careers blinds managers to the real reasons.

Finally, on the broader topic of Athena SWAN, several important pieces of news. The University's annual conference will be on the 4th March (register here), with talks by Jane Duncan (President-elect of the Royal Institute of British Architects) and Andrew Miller (Chair of the Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee), as well as an update on the University's Athena SWAN award by Prof. Catherine Harper. In the UK, Worcester Uni has become the 123rd signee to the Athena SWAN charter, while in Ireland the ECU launched a three-year pilot study at a big do in Dublin on the 5th February. Home-grown actions like WiSER at Trinity College Dublin have made great strides, but the framework provided by Athena SWAN should keep up the momentum for the long haul.

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