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.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

In the news - Science doesn’t only need sprinters

Individual fellowships are one of the key ways post-docs become independent researchers, but nearly all come with time limits post-viva. So what happens if you take a year off to start a family? What if you're moving labs to keep up with mobility requirements? What happens if your first experiment fails, but your second - better - one is brilliant, and won't be published until your current contract ends? In nearly all cases, the answer is 'tough.' Today, the UK's Medical Research Council announced that it was scrapping time limits from all fellowship eligibility requirements. Those of us outside its remit can only hope that other research councils and funding bodies see the light as well - because a science career is a marathon, not a sprint.

One of the best things about my job is getting the chance to meet so many brilliant and talented researchers who are doing jobs they love. But, for all its wonder, pursuing a research career is competitive and challenging.
In particular, moving from being a postdoc to an independent investigator in your own right is hugely challenging. It’s usually done by securing a personal fellowship which pays your salary and research costs.
But whether a researcher has built the track record needed to successfully apply for a fellowship can be affected by whether they’ve moved labs or countries, whether they’ve changed discipline, how much support they have had from his or her supervisor, and the nature of their research project. None of these factors are related to an individual’s scientific potential.

Read more here.

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