Fair-minded

Lynne Frostick is honoured to receive an accolade, but says men must do their share at home for women to excel at work

April 2, 2009

Lynne Frostick has been named one of six "Women of Outstanding Achievement" for 2009.

The professor of geography at the University of Hull, and chair of the Government's Expert Group for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, joins a growing list of those honoured by the annual accolades, handed out by the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (UKRC) to recognise outstanding women from academe and industry working in science, engineering and technology (SET).

The women, who have all reached the top in the still male-dominated subjects, pose for a portrait with the aim of creating a growing collection to inspire and encourage other women to progress their careers in the fields.

Professor Frostick described her addition to the hall of fame as a "huge honour".

"I have had a great time in science and academia, but I have had my difficulties and I want to be there to help other women," she said.

It is certainly a sentiment she is putting into practice. On top of her day job running Hull's Environment Research Institute and her research into water and waste, she is chair of the group helping the Government formulate policy to encourage more women into science.

She has also been Hull's pro vice-chancellor for research (before she decided she liked the lab too much) and is the mother of three almost grown-up children. It is no wonder she is known as Hull's "environmental superwoman".

She describes the biggest issue facing women in SET as the choice they are often forced to make between having a family or a career (Frostick herself had her children later, after she had her promotions, and she and her husband could afford the childcare).

"The system ought to support women not to have to make that choice," she said. "Men don't face that decision, and I don't see why women should have to either."

She believes the answer is to get men better engaged: they need to see their role as taking an equal share of childcare and caring responsibilities.

"Role models are great and it is important that women see they can aspire, but I think we need to change the men as well. We need to say, 'hey, you lot, it is important that you take your share because we all need to do what we can do best and there are a lot of women who can do best at science and they need to be able to make their contribution'."

zoe.corbyn@tsleducation.com

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