The gap between men’s and women’s careers in academia in the UK is closing as women become more ambitious, according to the 2010 Athena Survey of Science, Engineering and Technology (ASSET) summary report published earlier this month.
The 2010 survey, which included responses from over 7,000 male and female academics and postdocs from 84 UK universities, found that women are increasingly likely to aspire to senior leadership positions and are as likely as men to hold posts such as head of research and director of postgraduate studies.
Female postdocs are more positive about their career success to date than female academics, suggesting a more positive outlook for younger generations of scientists, and the availability of flexible working is having a beneficial effect on career development.
However, there are still significant differences between men’s and women’s experiences at every career stage. For example, on average:
- Women are more likely to be employed on temporary contracts
- Men are more likely to receive routine appraisals
- Women have less understanding of the promotion process and criteria
- Men feel more valued and visible in their departments and have more control over their employment choice
In the foreword to the report, Royal Society president Paul Nurse said there is still a long way to go before the UK can be confident it is making the most of the talents of female scientists. “It is more important than ever that we ensure the best scientists can flourish,” he wrote. “All groups should be able to participate to the full extent of their abilities.”
What is your opinion on prospects in the UK? Share your thoughts below.