Written evidence submitted by Cardiff University with contributions from the Cardiff Women in Science Network (WSC019)

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1 Written evidence submitted by Cardiff University with contributions from the Cardiff Women in Science Network (WSC019) 1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The reasons why numbers of women in STEM academic careers decline as they go up the career ladder are likely to relate to unconscious gender bias, both institutional and societal, lack of female role models higher up the career ladder, and difficulties that arise in combining family and caring activities with a sometimes contractually precarious and long-hours academic culture. Women who leave academia for any of the above reasons are likely to be able to transfer their skills effectively to other professions but this increases the gender disparity in academia still more and their unique contributions and their ability to act as role models to aspiring female scientists are lost. To retain women science graduates and PhD students in academic careers, potential gender bias should be addressed throughout the system by policies and mechanisms applying to all university staff that embed equality and diversity into the culture of an institution, by effective mentoring for early career researchers and by effective implementation of family-friendly policies. To encourage retention of women in academic STEM careers, government should look for a way of giving greater security to early career researchers and others on fixed-term contracts and should make sure that initiatives such as Athena SWAN and Project Juno are being effectively implemented. 2 CARDIFF UNIVERSITY Cardiff University is among the top tier of Britain s research intensive universities and is a member of the Russell Group of Universities. The University has 17 STEM Schools (including the School of Medicine) within two of its three Colleges: the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences and the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering. Of its 27,744 students, 14,754 are in STEM (58.3% female, 41.7%male). The number of academic staff in STEMM schools are 2065 of which1230 Males (59.5%) and 835 females (40.5%)The University is committed to addressing the historic underrepresentation of women across the sector at all levels of academic employment, and believes that the best way of undertaking this is through embedding equality and diversity into the University culture. The university has a structure that aims to tackle stereotyping and gender bias and provide ways to embed equality into everyday activities. It starts with the Vice Chancellor and the Deputy Vice- Chancellor leading on equality and diversity and implementing a strategic equality plan which includes mandatory equality and diversity training.

2 3 INFORMATION AND COMMENTS ON RELEVANT MATTERS (a) Why do numbers of women in STEM academic careers decline further up the career ladder? 1 It is often said that there is some kind of built-in bias against women in STEM subjects. Though Cardiff University is not aware of any conscious bias operating in the institution against women in job application and promotion processes, we cannot be certain that no unconscious bias exists. This may be especially the case in that, with the best will in the world, the majority of those making the judgements are likely to be male. 2 The same may well be true when male academics are mentoring or otherwise supporting more junior female colleagues and, again in a more or less unconscious way, may identify with those who are male like them. Just as in society generally STEM work and the qualities needed for it are often perceived as a male domain, academics too many, if again unconsciously, share such a perception. This may also apply to the idea that a woman can be a suitable head of department or authority figure. 3 Such an idea may be reinforced in female STEM academics by not seeing many women in top academic/research positions around them who they can aim to emulate. 4 Some women academics may also effectively have two jobs, their professional role and their role in starting a family and looking after its members. This means that being present at work sometimes after normal working hours, as academics, including scientists, are often called upon to do, can place disproportionate strain on female scientists. This makes it more likely they will not keep up with male colleagues in producing research outputs, keeping up with their field and submitting grant applications. So when new posts are advertised or promotion applications are made, they may present less strong applicants than some of their male counterparts. 5 For reasons to do with caring commitments, it is also often difficult for women STEM academics to transfer to new, and perhaps more career-enhancing, posts in other places. The fact that expiry of fixed-term contracts sometimes actually makes this necessary is a further potential bar to career advancement for women. In other words, they cannot just up sticks at short notice. This is especially troublesome for women in the early part of their careers, when they are most likely to encounter these problems owing to the fixedterm nature of external funding and the difficulty of securing posts which give them ongoing contracts of employment. In addition, evidence suggests that this influences women before the time they actually have these commitments. 6 One of the consequences of the above issues is that universities tend to have on their staff a relatively small number of female professors to act as role models. This imbalance is unlikely to have a positive impact on the confidence of female staff seeking to make their

3 way in academia and may have a vicious circle effect in that if there are no female academics in a particular department, females may not choose to apply there but go somewhere where the culture already looks more balanced (within or outside academia). 7 For women taking maternity leave, there is sometimes great pressure to come back as early as possible. This was felt necessary in order for individuals to retain the same teaching duties and administrative responsibilities, and also keep up their publication output or research productivity in this highly competitive arena. Some female academics on maternity leave feel pressured to maintain regular contact to continue to run projects, manage their manuscripts within the peer review system, and work with PhD students. (b) When women leave academia, what careers do they transition into? What are the consequences of scientifically trained women applying their skills in different employment sectors? 8 Research tends to show that some women who leave academia due to family commitments have periods at home before attempting to move into other careers. Both these and others who leave academia for other reasons may move into administrative roles within a higher education institution, into science teaching at secondary or further education level or into roles in business and commerce. In all cases they are likely to put their scientific training to positive effect by using their scientific knowledge, and their ability to view problems in general from an objective, scientific point of view. 9 This means that scientifically trained women who leave academia are unlikely to be lost to productive employment and indeed are likely to make important contributions to the educational, social, business and economic good of the country. However, given the relatively low number of women in academic science employment, it is the case that this under-representation is exacerbated by every woman who takes the decision to leave scientific academia. It also means that the unique contributions and perspectives these women could bring to academic science are lost, at the same time representing a missed opportunity to encourage and stimulate the scientific aspirations of other young women. (c) What should universities and the higher education sector do to retain woman graduates and PhD students in academic careers? Are there examples of good practice? 10 Throughout undergraduate study, steps should be taken by institutions and by individual university departments and schools to make clear to female science students that their contribution is valued entirely on a par with that of their male counterparts. Any

4 suggestion of gender bias in the culture should be addressed at this early stage by thoroughgoing equality and diversity training for all staff and by having a system that offers support if ever such bias, or indeed discrimination of any kind, seems to manifest itself. A contribution towards this would be an inclusive curriculum aiming to support academic schools in reviewing the inclusivity and accessibility of their practices in learning, teaching and assessment, and in implementing an action plan to promote equality. 11 It goes without saying that this culture should continue at postgraduate level, since this is the point at which many female students will decide whether they wish to become paid researchers and make a career in academic science. Their experience at this stage will therefore be crucial. 12 Once female postgraduates are taken into employment, either as postdoctoral researchers and/or as lecturers, the process whereby their value is clearly demonstrated to them by the institution should continue, by effective mentoring by either female or male colleagues who are fully and consciously aware of the need to support them and foster their confidence in every area. Universities could also consider the way fixed term appointments are managed and look at alternative options to extend them after expiry, if necessary by the use of bridging arrangements. 13 Universities should promote the academic career and the many benefits associated with it, such as the flexible working arrangements / generous annual leave entitlement, at events to its own undergraduates and PhD students. 14 University appointment committees could look for a new way in measuring the output of an individual, such as normalising by the number of years working in the post, which takes into consideration part-time work and maternity leave. 1 This is currently used in evaluating research output in the Research Excellence Framework (REF). 15 As mentioned earlier, women in academia can be disproportionately penalised by out-of hours working patterns, since they are more likely than men to have caring commitments. For this reason, it behoves institutions to take into account the need that women scientists may have to keep regular hours and to accommodate work arrangements that allow this. Nor should such accommodation be seen as women receiving particular privileges but rather as a necessary quid pro quo for the diversity of talents, approaches and innovation that a diverse workforce necessarily brings to a discipline and to an institution. 16 Universities should seek to give special prominence to women who have gained positions of leadership and academic authority in the institution in order to provide role models for other aspiring female academics. 1 See Monash University system as outlined in paper How many papers is a baby worth?. Klocker N and Drozdzewski D, 2012 Environment and Planning A 44, pages

5 17 On a practical level, universities should make sure that events essential for normal participation in academic life (meetings, outside lectures, etc.) are held at times of day that are not likely to disadvantage female scientists with family commitments. 18 Examples of good practice at Cardiff University: Confidence building training for female academics as well as promotion workshops. Support for early career researchers such as training, career advice and mentoring. Conferences, seminars and lectures that raise the profile of women in STEM subjects. Women s mentoring scheme and dedicated STEM Schools mentoring. Mandatory equality and diversity training for all staff including training for all Chairs of interview panels. Woman professors group and other female networking groups to allow academics to exchange ideas and learn from one another. Culture of university committees being scheduled a year in advance and held, wherever feasible, during normal working hours. Work-life balance policies and action to promote a gender-equal workplace (e.g. access to flexibility in working patterns, career breaks, parental and dependents leave, childcare provision on site). Representative publicity materials providing a positive message for both men and women. Inclusion of women on interviewing panels wherever possible. Workload models that ensure that work is allocated transparently and equitably and rewarded and recognised in appraisals and promotions. Springboard Women's Development Programme, a 4 day course delivered over 3 months, aimed at women from all backgrounds and stages of their careers. This development programme is aimed at meeting the needs of women who work in university administration. Dedicated support for women returners from maternity with protected time to focus on research. Participation in schemes focused on support for female scientists such as Athena SWAN and Project Juno. Inclusive curriculum project aiming to support academic schools in reviewing the inclusivity and accessibility of their practices in learning, teaching and assessment. Fostering a culture where bullying, harassment and discrimination are challenged and eliminated. For example, dignity at work and study policy supported by E&D training, Leadership training, Heads of School training as well as visible top management commitment to a positive working environment for all.

6 Cardiff University Research Opportunities Programme whereby undergraduate students are given a paid opportunity to work for 8 weeks in a research group over a period of the summer. (d) What role should the Government have in encouraging the retention of women in academic STEM careers? 19 Can the government find a way of mitigating the precarious material situation that many postdoctoral and early career science researchers find themselves in? If a central fund were available to offer more secure, or longer-term, employment to these staff it would benefit both men and women. But, crucially, it would almost certainly mean that proportionately a larger percentage of female than male staff would feel sufficiently comfortable not to contemplate the possibility of leaving academic research. This would especially be the case for female staff with family commitments on whom pressures can already be great without the added stress of not being sure if contract renewal is likely in the near future. 20 The government could also consider setting up a body to investigate the issue of gender equality in the universities and the extent to which it is being implemented and achieved. Such a body could praise, publicise and recompense good practice while sanctioning institutions where unsatisfactory approaches or lack of progress were found. 21 The same body could also investigate how effectively dedicated schemes for women in science (e.g. Athena SWAN, Project Juno) are being implemented and utilised to change the gender culture of universities and the historic under-representation of women in STEM disciplines. 22 Government could investigate the possibility of requiring funding bodies to make the achievement of a proven demonstrable level of equality and diversity necessary as a condition of full funding awards to those bodies. 23 As a positive action measure the government could help in dismantling the barriers that women face by giving the same opportunity to women as men in Research Councils grant submissions. This would mean in cases where grants are evaluated with the same academic score, priority is given to grant where applicants in STEM subjects are female or from a minority group. 24 Government could investigate the possibility of having some kind of adjustment for people who have taken periods of leave/career breaks to care for family members. This would apply equally to men and to women. 25 Government could investigate the possibility of funding mentoring and networking opportunities to set up these networks.

7 4 RECOMMENDATIONS Universities need to mainstream and make mandatory equality and diversity training, with particular emphasis on the phenomenon of the potential consequences of unconscious bias in recruitment and promotion. Universities should ensure that their family-friendly policies are fully enacted and, in particular, that women are not disadvantaged by important events taking place at hours when family commitments may make it difficult for them to attend. Universities need to have exit interviews and / or a mechanism for collecting information on reasons for leaving and future destination. Female science academics who gain positions of leadership and authority should be given special prominence in order to encourage other female scientists in career development. Efforts should be made, both at institutional and government level, to secure funding streams allowing greater security of employment for science researchers, especially in the early parts of their careers. A dedicated government body should investigate the implementation of equality and diversity policies in universities and the effectiveness of various initiatives (e.g. Athena SWAN, Project Juno) which have the purpose of increasing female participation in academic science teaching and research. August 2013

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