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UK politicians demand action over dearth of female scientists

An influential group of UK politicians has demanded that more be done to increase the number of women in scientific careers.

In a report released today, the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee points the finger at universities. Many universities are devolving their responsibilities to deal with this issue down to the level of research groups, the report says, and are thus failing in their obligation to improve science careers for all researchers.

Among the committee’s recommendations are diversity and equality training for all undergraduate and post-graduate science students; a focus on mentoring for women and other under-represented groups; and “positive action” by recruiters to encourage qualified female candidates for senior roles.

“It is astonishing that women still remain under-represented at professorial levels in academia across every scientific discipline,” said Andrew Miller, the chair of the committee, in a statement. “It’s time for universities to pull their socks up.”

The committee also declared itself “disappointed” that funding for diversity activities via the government’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has fallen in real terms from £6 million in 2008-09 to a predicted £2.5m in 2014-15 (see graph).

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  1. Report this comment

    Uncle Al said:

    One is profoundly curious about advantages to be had for engaging objectively competent scientists as a concept versus female scientists as a class. Margaret Thatcher was a chemist. She got out. Society is structured to reward taking and penalize making: LGBT, LGBTI, LGBTQQ, MSGI, GSD, SGL, GLBTA, GSM, MSM, FABGLITTER, LGBTQ+, and especially unknown acronyms. Diversity is qualification by proven disability.

    Being chained to the oars means you go down with the ship. Banging the big drum is much nicer overall, and guarantees a flotation device.

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