Initiative encourages female scientists back to workplace

January 25, 2002

The government has launched a raft of proposals designed to help women carve out careers in science, engineering and technology.

Trade and industry secretary and minister for women, Patricia Hewitt, this week launched Maximising Returns , a report highlighting the low number of women returning to science after a career break.

The report, prepared by Warwick University's Institute for Employment Research and People Science and Policy, showed that around 50,000 female SET graduates were not working at any one time. Of these, only half are expected to return to work and only a third of these will go into SET occupations.

In 2000, almost 40 per cent of these women who were not working had been out of employment for five years or more.

"This is a waste of women's talents," said Ms Hewitt. Other initiatives announced were:

  • Baroness Greenfield, professor at Oxford University and director of the Royal Institution, will lead a group addressing the under-representation of women in science and engineering
  • The government is providing £105,000 over three years to the Women in Science and Engineering campaign and £80,000 towards a mentoring scheme with industry to encourage female scientists and engineers back to work
  • The Royal Society will run an annual women's competition for the Franklin Medal, which comes with a £30,000 award for exceptional innovation in research.

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