Discrimination rife, say women scientists

March 20, 1998

A CHARTER to ensure a fair deal for women scientists was launched this week. Valerie Ellis, assistant general secretary of the Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists (IPMS), one of four unions behind the charter, told a London meeting that discrimination against women scientists was rife in universities and institutions, with clear evidence of problems with promotion, peer review and fixed-term contracts.

The Science Alliance, which includes the Association of University Teachers, Natfhe and the MSF, said that across all grades in universities 37 per cent of male scientists and 49 per cent of female scientists are on fixed-term contracts. At all grades, including professors, women are more likely to be on fixed-term contracts.

"These are much less secure but also much worse paid," said Tom Wilson, assistant general secretary of the AUT. "The average fixed-term contract is about Pounds 18,000, while the average non-fixed-term contract is about Pounds 26,000."

The charter has an action plan calling for equal pay, an equal and transparent promotion system, and flexible working patterns.

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