Women set up old-girl network

February 14, 2003

Female scientists are often held back in their careers because they do not have inside information about forthcoming research projects, according to the creators of a website that aims to help them, writes Tony Tysome.

Informal male-dominated networks of academics in science, engineering and technology are frequently the source of important information about projects and give their members an edge in preparing bids for funding.

Women trying to work their way up the career ladder often find themselves shut out from such groups.

The East Midlands Local Academic Women's Network launched the website to provide women scientists with more information and to outline the various skills and strategies needed to pursue research funding successfully.

It was put together after a two-day conference at Loughborough University, where female scientists discussed how to tackle funding proposals, find the best avenues for funding opportunities and set up creative research teams.

Sandra Jasper, Loughborough's personnel adviser, said: "Even today it can still be lonely for women working in some science, engineering and technology subject areas, and everyone at the conference commented on how encouraging it was to share experiences and work things through with others who knew the issues themselves."

Concern about gender balance in the scientific workforce was raised last summer in a report from the Science and Technology Committee.

The report focuses on learned societies including the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering. It notes that disproportionately few women work in these subject areas, and those who do seldom make it to the most senior posts.

Details: www.lboro.ac.uk/admin/personnel/athena_web/index.htm


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