Is tech addiction making us far more stressed at work?

‘The Quality of Working Life 2016 report from the Chartered Management Institute earlier this year found that this obsession with checking emails outside of work hours is making it difficult for many of us to switch off.’

Could now be the time to try and find that balance?



Women ‘nearly twice as likely to have anxiety’ as men

Yesterday the BBC News website posted a discussion piece on a recent review of 48 published studies indicating that women are nearly twice as likely to experience anxiety as men.  ‘Its authors from Cambridge University say that as well as women, young people under 35 and those with health problems are particularly affected. They estimate that four in every 100 people have anxiety.’

Help is also at hand:

  • ‘Before you begin any treatment you should discuss your options with your doctor.
  • There are self-help books and online courses that can offer ways to manage your anxiety.
  • Your doctor may also recommend that you avoid too much caffeine and alcohol, and stop smoking.
  • Taking regular exercise may also help you relax.
  • You may be advised to try psychological treatment, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) or mindfulness. CBT aims to challenge negative thoughts and behaviours, while mindfulness encourages the individual to focus on the here and now.
  • There are also different drug treatments that your doctor may prescribe.’

Related links:

The difference between anxiety and panic attacks

Women ‘nearly twice as likely to have anxiety’ as men

Call You and Yours: How has anxiety affected you?

Seeking sanctuary from social angst in the toilet

People aged 65 to 79 ‘happiest of all’, study suggests

Anxiety disorders – Mind

Hand pointing at a Anxiety word illustration on blue background.

In pictures: Women Create Change

British documentary photographer Alison Baskerville is displaying her latest work at the Oxford Festival of Arts. This exhibition highlights pioneering women of the 21st century who are connected to the Oxford area.  The BBC News website is currently showcasing some of her work.

“The conversation around equality and representation has never been stronger,” says Ms Baskerville. “In meeting these women I realised that we are a society obsessed with gender and capability. “These women prove that this is only a small factor in the path to become change makers and that their success is down to determination, focus, passion and love. “This is something that we can all learn from, regardless of our gender.”

Susan Greenfield: Neuroscientist and first female director of the Royal Institution

Susan Greenfield: Neuroscientist and first female director of the Royal Institution (photograph by Alison Baskerville)

Women take record number of university places

According to new figures ‘women are 35% more likely to go to university than men.’ In an article by Sean Coughlan published today on the BBC News website:

‘The admissions service has highlighted the big differences in the characteristics of who gets places. The most likely are:

  • women
  • those living in London
  • those from more affluent families
  • those in non-white ethnic groups

Those most likely to be under-represented at university are poor, white males. White people, proportionate to their numbers in the population, are the least likely ethnic group to go to university, the admissions service says. And there would be an extra 36,000 male students at university if they entered at the same rate as female students.’

women at uni


Sexist banter ‘should be tackled’ in schools

Published on the BBC News Website on the 20th October Hannah Richardson reports that ‘Schools are being urged to tackle the use of sexist language to avoid youngsters being gender stereotyped. An Institute of Physics (IoP) guide argues schools do not take sexist “banter” as seriously as they do racist or homophobic language. This can lead to gender stereotyping and turn girls away from studying science subjects as often as boys. “No woman should feel that their gender is a barrier to their success,” the government said……… Interestingly, the report referred as much to the gender stereotyping of boys as much as girls. It said: “Lack of confidence and resilience can present a barrier for girls taking subjects perceived to be the most challenging and boys can get caught up in a culture of not working hard.”

Gender stereo

Early stereotyping can put women off certain careers, the report suggests.

More women researchers needed ‘to deliver food security’

Reported on 17th October by Mark Kinver on the BBC News website – ‘policy and business leaders have used a major food conference to highlight the need for more women in the global agriculture sector’

…….. “It is a global problem so we have to change the global culture surrounding science and who can be a scientist.  A report produced by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (Case) that examined diversity in UK Stem said that just 9% of those involved in non-medical Stem posts were women. However, it also highlighted that the problems facing the science sector in the UK went beyond gender equality. The authors reported that there was an annual shortfall of 40,000 skilled Stem workers. Dr Kamau-Rutenberg told the BBC the shortfall illustrated why it was critical to attract more young women to pursue careers in the Stem sector. We need to expand the pool of talent and increase the number of scientists. Investing in women scientists is a really good way to solve the problem of not enough scientists being available to do the work.”

Women account for only a small proportion of skilled scientists worldwide

Women account for only a small proportion of skilled scientists worldwide

Plans to tackle gender pay gap

One of the main stories on the BBC News website today is about plans to tackle the gender pay gap.

‘The government is to press ahead with plans to force large firms to disclose data on the gender pay gap among staff.  A consultation on the measure – introduced in the final months of the coalition – is to begin on Tuesday.  David Cameron will say the move will “pressure” firms into boosting women’s wages, as he vows to eliminate the gender pay gap “within a generation”.

gender pay gap








Although not covered by this initiative, at the University of Reading there is a 25% pay gap between genders at Grades 9 and above.  This was highlighted at a recent ‘Ask the Board’ event as an issue which needs to be tackled.  How can this be changed?  In the long-term how can this be prevented from happening again?

Can you prescribe nature?

Featured today on the BBC news website, Helen Briggs discusses the benefits of taking a walk through a green-space (as opposed to an urban environment). ‘After decades of research, the scientific world is moving closer to pinpointing how exposure to nature seems to promote well-being.  A recent US study found that being close to nature might soothe the mind by reducing rumination – when negative thoughts get stuck on repeat, playing over and over in the mind.’

Can you prescribe nature?

You can read the full study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)









We have the Harris Gardens on campus.  This is a great place to walk and escape from the pressures of work.  Keep a look out for me there!

To find out more visit the Friends of Harris Gardens website –

Garden highlights include:

•The garden is set in an area which contains many rare and unusual trees and shrubs from around the  world, some dating from the original 18th and 19th century gardens. These include the veteran Turkey Oaks of which only five now remain.
•Under the Turkey Oaks you will find the stream flowing through small pools into the pond. It has spring and summer planting on its banks.
•Beyond the stream is the Flower Meadow featuring mainly native wild flowers which provide a magnificent sight that is enhanced by the addition of bulbous plants such as narcissi, camassias and alliums when they are in bloom.
•The Crab Apple Orchard and the Cherry Bowl provide a wonderful sight in the spring. Most of the ornamental apples have colourful autumn foliage and decorative fruit which provide a feast for birds and squirrels.
•Several large herbaceous borders in the Formal Garden and elsewhere provide colour from spring to autumn and contain a wide range of plants. The Conifer Circle provides a wonderful backdrop.
•The gravel garden is a recent addition and was created around two large eucalyptus trees. It contains many drought tolerant plants which give texture and structure and are attractive to bees and butterflies.

The women whom science forgot

On 19th June Jawad Iqbal published this article on the BBC Science and Environment page –  The Women whom science forgot

‘A quick web search for the world’s most famous scientists lists, among others, Galileo, Einstein, Newton, Darwin, Stephen Hawking and Alexander Fleming.  One of the few women to receive a mention is Marie Curie, a physicist and chemist who basically discovered radiation and helped apply it in the field of X-rays.

The Nobel laureate Sir Tim Hunt was heavily criticised for his disparaging remarks about women in science last week, which for some raised the issue of where women stood in the scientific community. But many female scientists in the past were not given the credit they deserved for their achievements. As a result, their names have all but disappeared from public consciousness ……..’

sther Lederberg  - an American microbiologist

Esther Lederberg – an American microbiologist









The list includes:

  • Esther Lederberg – a microbilogist who undertook groundbreaking research in genetics
  • Rosalind Franklin – a biophysicist who pioneered X-0ray crystallography
  • Ida Tacke – conducted groundbreaking research in chemistry and atomic physics
  • Lise Meitner – her research led to the discovery of nuclear fission
Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin













Jawad Iqbal notes that ‘the Royal Society, swift in its condemnation of Sir Tim’s remarks, was founded in 1660 and has yet to elect a female president.  Some say that the comments from Sir Tim, a prominent fellow of the society will damage the efforts it is making to improve diversity.  It has been reported that only 6% of its fellows (a prestigious title in the world of science) are women.  That statistic, some say, sums up the scale of the wider problem of the difficulties faced by women in the scientific world’

What do you think?  Have any female scientists in your field of research disappeared from public consciousness?

How to have a life beyond work

Katie Hope (Business reporter for the BBC) has published a feature based on interviews with different business leaders examining issues around discussing work life balance.  While not focused on academia many of the comments still apply!

‘Research suggests that advances in technology giving employees the ability to check their work emails 24 hours a day have made it even harder for people to separate work and life. Management consultancy Deloitte’s global survey of 2,500 business leaders found two thirds of employees were feeling “overwhelmed” with 80% wanting to work fewer hours.’


‘Yet for those at the top, admitting they need a break can be perceived as a weakness………..’  This doesn’t necessarily just apply to those at the top!








‘John Mackey, co-founder and co-chief executive of supermarket chain Whole Foods says in the US a “workaholic” culture means people often boast about how long they work, seeing 80-hour weeks as a badge of honour. He admits he himself has worked such long hours, but says it’s not sustainable in the long term. In an effort to reduce the workload of being the boss, he divides the top role with co-chief executive Walter Robb, and they are part of a seven-strong executive team which all earn the same salary and share executive responsibilities. “Walter and I may be the leaders of that group but we all are working together,” he says. This approach continues throughout the firm, with individual stores having control over budgets and staff having the power to make decisions. This structure, gives him time, to meditate, exercise and eat well, he says.

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