Balancing the STEM equation

This latest short film/documentary (A chemical imbalance) from a group of 5 chemistry professors at University of Edinburgh, Prof. Polly Arnold and colleagues, again brings up the issue of such few women in STEM especially at higher levels.

Also read this article about why there are such few female VC’s (in the UK) on the Times Higher Education website.

We need a change. That has been said many time by many people. Yet the change in not really coming through. What is the bottleneck?
I think that even now not everyone fully apprecaites the value of gender balanced departments, management teams and leadership in academia. Several research studies have shown that gender balanced teams out perform teams that are predominantly male/female. So why does this not permeate into STEM leadership?

One thing that I have seen cause some change is the decision of certain research councils to refuse to accept grant proposals from universities that are not signed up to the Athena Swan charter. This suddenly prompted several universities to start applying for membership and Athena Swan awards, while also (hopefully) improving things for female academic staff in their STEM departments.

Perhaps we need more funding bodies (read all government funded grants) to require that institutes demonstrate real committment to equality for women, in order to be eligible for any research and even teaching related funds.

We also need effective tools to measure this. Mere box ticking exercises that dont engender positive change really need to be on their way out.


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