Action already being taken for Women in Scientific Careers

6 February 2014

The Institute of Physics (IOP) is already implementing many of the recommendations included in today’s, Thursday 6 February, House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee Report on Women in Scientific Careers through its successful Project Juno and its long-running Girls in Physics programme.

Whilst the Institute welcomes the recommendations from the Science and Technology Committee, it also believes that more needs to be done at the grass roots level to tackle culture change in STEM careers.

Professor Helen Gleeson, from the University of Manchester and the Acting Chair of the Institute’s Juno Assessment Panel, said, "Addressing culture change is crucial to ensuring that the recommendations in the Science and Technology Committee report on Women in Scientific Careers can be successfully implemented.

“The Institute's Project Juno has enabled many physics departments to address this by providing a framework to tackle the major barriers that can affect the recruitment and retention of female academic staff. We have already seen massive advances in those departments that have worked incredibly hard to be Practitioners and Champions."

Project Juno is the IOP’s award scheme designed to recognise and reward physics departments which demonstrate that they have taken action to address the under-representation of women in university physics and to encourage better practice for both women and men.

Departments work through three levels with the aim of being awarded the status of Juno Champion, which means that they have demonstrated that they have developed an equitable working culture in which all students and staff, men and women, can all achieve their full potential.

Professor Val Gibson, who has led the Juno work at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, said, "Through Project Juno we have already implemented many of the recommendations that are included in the Science and Technology Committee’s report, particularly those relating to early career researchers and women returners.

“This has resulted in whole-scale culture change in our department, which has reaped benefits in terms of recruitment, retention and promotion for all staff, not just our female academics."

The Institute has also been running a Girls in Physics programme for nearly a decade and in December 2013, it released the highly-publicised Closing Doors report, with analysis of student subject choice showing that more than 80% of England’s co-educational schools appear to be doing little to counter gender stereotypes

IOP’s Director of Education and Science, Professor Peter Main, said, “IOP has already undertaken a gender analysis of subject choice through its well-publicised report, Closing Doors, which demonstrated that to encourage more girls into physics and engineering, schools must address gender stereotyping in all subjects, not just in mathematics and physics.

“The Institute will be working with a number of schools over the coming months to finds ways of combatting gender stereotyping across the whole school.”

You can find out more about Project Juno here or about the Closing Doors report here.

The Committee’s report is available from Thursday 6 February here.

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