The Commission on University Career Opportunity (CUCO) is to launch an initiative to improve the participation and promotion of women in science at graduate level and beyond. Project "Athena" will give financial incentives to higher education institutions, offering start-up funding for transferable pilot schemes and annual awards.
Nancy Lane, on the CUCO committee and at the University of Cambridge, announced the UK-wide initiative on Monday at the British Association Festival of Science. The project is due to be launched in November and already has backing from all the funding councils in Great Britain and the Office of Science and Technology. The sum of money involved is expected to be hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The aim is to get academic appointments of women in science, engineering and technology representative of women undergraduates. The original proposal, put to the English and Scottish funding councils, outlines a goal of a 10 per cent improvement on current rates of academic appointments in high-er education, at all levels, by 2003.
The proposal explains: "On the basis of the turnover of posts and the available pool of women in SET this target is achievable on a sector-wide basis if one in two/three SET departments appoints or promotes one more woman."