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Filtered on Author (John Jackson), Date (Feb 2014).
The UK parliament's House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has published the report of its inquiry on Women in Scientific Careers. Key points:
- Despite imperatives and attempts to improve the under-representation of women, only 17 per cent of STEM professors are women.
- The UK economy needs more STEM workers and cannot meet the demand without increasing the numbers of women in STEM.
- The lack of gender diversity in STEM is the result of perceptions and biases combined with the impracticalities of combining a career with family.
- Diversity and equality training should be provided to all STEM undergraduate and postgraduate students. It should also be mandatory for all members of recruitment and promotion panels and line managers.
- Early career short term contracts are a barrier to job security and continuity of employment rights. This career stage coincides with many women considering starting families - they are more likely than men to end their STEM career at this stage.
- Government should work with the higher education sector to review the academic career structure and increase the number of longer-term positions for post-doctoral researchers.
The UK parliament’s House of Lords Science and Technology held an inquiry in 2013 on Scientific Infrastructure. Their report was positive, but argued that the UK lacked a long-term strategy and investment plan for scientific infrastructure; and failed to provide adequately for operational costs at facilities.
The report also recommended a more active role for the UK in developing EU infrastructures. There were concerns that the benefits of Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) in providing national capabilities and acting as custodians of data, expertise and facilities, was being eroded by an over-emphasis on profit margins and uncertainty over long term funding.
The UK government has now responded and has announced a consultation on long term science and research capital and an advisory group that will inform a roadmap on long term science capital – this is seen as a central element of a Science and Innovation Strategy to be published in Autumn 2014. The UK Research Councils also provided a short response.