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 ……..’
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
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?
On 11th May the Vice-Chancellor published a message on diversity and inclusion. To see the full statement follow this link – http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/staffportal/news/articles/spsn-632929.aspx
‘We want talented women to rise top of the institution and to close the gender pay gap. Real change will take time and will not happen overnight. We need to see big structural and cultural shifts within the University. But the case for change is unarguable. We have a diverse community and must do more to ensure that all students and employees fulfil their full potential and talent’
Stuart Black has highlighted 2 articles in the recent edition of Geoscientist (May 2015). Firstly, the Editorial by Ted Nield where he reflects on diversity in relation to his graduation group photograph (from 1977) – https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Geoscientist/May-2015/Enabled-bodies, and secondly, an article by Alison Stokes (Plymouth University) and Christopher Aitchison (University of Cincinnati) examining strategies for providing greater opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in geoscience fieldwork – https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Geoscientist/May-2015/Getting-out-more
Join other researchers for a live online #vitaehangout on 26 March (Thursday) between 2-3pm UK time to discuss equality and diversity in research, share knowledge about the initiatives in place and ask our panel of experts about the issues that affect researchers in higher education.
This event is part of Every Researcher Counts, a series of activities addressing equality and diversity in research including conferences, training and resources – https://www.vitae.ac.uk/events/equality-in-research-vitaehangout
The challenge to achieve equality remains clear with still only 21% UK Professors being female and 0.4% of UK Professors being black. Alongside these statistics, the rhetoric supporting equality and diversity and the need to improve make real change to ensure maximum success has never been clearer. This is supported by established law and a group of well know initiatives for example the UK Equality Act 2010, the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and Athena Swan. Alongside these forthcoming new initiatives will ensure that mainstreaming equality and diversity will become a priority for UK HEIs in the forthcoming years.
Vitae’s Every Researcher Counts programme operates across all nine protected characteristics in order to tackle equality and diversity in research. The recently published Actions for All lists the ten things that institutions should do now to tackle equality and diversity. This hangout aims to realistically discuss the challenges individuals face in their institutions.
So how can we continue to make real progress in tackling inequality in the research environment?
Our panelists will join our moderator to discuss this and many other questions, such as:
- How can we as a research community work to improve equality and diversity?
- Do you think we can ever achieve a true diversity of opportunity?
- What key things would you like to see addressed in your institution?
- Why is it important to address inequality in research?
- What do you think are the main challenges?