Last week She Figures for 2012 were released by the European Commission. Published every three years, they provide a wealth of data on the gender breakdown at different levels, and in different sectors, within research and innovation. The numbers bring mixed news, with hints of progress largely obscured by the depressing reality of the widespread underrepresentation of women in research, particularly in STEM fields.
Science and engineering are fields that everyone can and should be encouraged to explore, without exception. Our campaign puts accessibility and equality in the spotlight, examining the current state of ethnic diversity, gender equality and provisions for those with disabilities across sectors engaged with science and engineering, as well as reporting and scrutinising measures being introduced to secure opportunities for all within these sectors.
Here you will find blogs, reports, briefings and consultations on Diversity. To see only CaSE reports, briefings and consultations, use the button to the right.
The UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, last week suggested that more women should go into engineering to help solve the skills shortage. He highlighted the vital role that women represent in engineering and the need to shift the mindset and reputation the industry has about engineering being a ‘dirty hands’ business suitable only for men.
The STEM Disability Committee, of which CaSE is a founding member, launched its new website. The site is set to become the sector’s main resource and portal for people studying or working in science and engineering.
Speaking at the launch, Khan commented:
“The UK is going to need smart and driven scientists and engineers – and lots of them. We need to be including as many children as possible in science at school, and hopefully this BSL project will help take down some of the barriers which exist right now.”
“We’re still in the early days of really tackling the disability agenda in science, and hopefully the new website will be a big part of our efforts in the future. The resources on there should mean that there are fewer people who have to reinvent the wheel when working, or studying, in our sector.”
“The science and engineering sector wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for taxpayer support, so it’s crucial that our institutions improve accessibility for everyone.”
The STEM Disability Committee’s members are the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, Society of Biology, Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Physics, and CaSE. It was first formed in 2010, after a call for action from CaSE.
The hurdles facing women in science were addressed by MPs in the House of Commons yesterday, as part of an adjournment debate organised by Valerie Vaz MP. Ms Vaz called on the Government to heed CaSE’s recommendation that a strategy and specific targets for increasing inclusion should be developed by the Government.
Attended by the Universities and Science Minister David Willetts, the debate touched on a number of issues across the diversity agenda, including subject take-up at school, employment opportunities, and research career structures for women. Read More
Access to science and engineering, whether through employment or simply understanding and engagement, should by the same for everyone. At CaSE, we also believe that improved social diversity leads to a more innovative and responsive science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) workforce. With the price of Higher Education rising, it is especially important to ensure that social background does not effect opportunities to pursue STEM study. Access to STEM – and all – subjects should be entirely merit-based.
Unfortunately, lower socioeconomic status may still be a barrier to STEM education. In a new report (see full version here), we used data collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), to investigate the socioeconomic diversity of UK students taking STEM degrees between 2004 and 2010. We’ve summarised our findings below.
The following is CaSE’s submission to the Liberal Democrat science policy review, dated 20th February 2012. You can access a PDF version of the submission here.
Thank you for your letter of 31st January 2012 inviting CaSE to contribute to your update of Liberal Democrat science policy. I have enclosed some of our reflections on the current state of UK science policy in the three keys areas you identified – money, people, and science in policy – as well as recommendations which we hope your party will be able to implement in Government and for your next manifesto. I hope they are of use to you.
The challenge of the leaky pipeline in SET – employment rates and “attrition”
In 2008, there were 620 thousand female STEM graduates of working age in the UK, but 70.2 per cent of these were not using their SET qualifications to work in SET occupations because they were working in non-SET occupations, inactive, or unemployed. In 2006/07, twice the proportion of men graduating with undergraduate qualifications in STEM entered SET professional or associate professional occupations (41.8 per cent) compared with women (21.0 per cent). Moreover, male graduates who enter SET occupations are much more likely to enter at higher levels than women – six months after graduation, there are clear signs of a gendered labour market and of gendered choice amongst graduates.
Science, engineering and technology are central to our lives, our economy and our future. But at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the analysis in the UKRC’s Guide reveals that only 5.3 per cent (674,000), or about one in twenty, of all working women are employed in any SET occupation, compared to 31.3 per cent for all working men (nearly one in three), in a total of 5.5 million women and men in SET occupations. This means that a man is six times more likely to work in a SET occupation than a woman.
Dr Hilary Leevers is Assistant Director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering.
Education is undergoing a huge overhaul – perhaps even more so than other areas of government. We will be posting blogs on specific issues in science, technology, engineering, or maths (STEM) education in schools and colleges over the coming weeks and months – kicking off with one from Peter Main, Director of Education and Science at the Institute of Physics, on physics teachers in schools. But in advance, here we provide a few links to recent papers and developments on the issues.
The Education White Paper: The Importance of Teaching, was published on 24th November. It throws up a breadth of issues, from curriculum reform and teacher recruitment and training to restructuring schools themselves. CaSE has already met with a small group of colleagues working in STEM education policy to share thoughts and discuss what actions should be taken. We and others will be blogging on them in more detail as things develop.
Jennifer Dyer is the Diversity Programme Leader and Frances Ling is the Diversity Programme Coordinator at the Institute of Physics
On 23 November, the Institute of Physics hosted a highly successful and engaging one-day conference on the barriers to disabled students in science and engineering, It was attended by a wide range of delegates, including staff from professional bodies, academics, HEI disability practitioners and those working in widening participation.
The conference was in follow-up to the Institute’s publication in 2008, Access for All, which provided information to physics departments on how they can better recruit and support their disabled students in all areas of university life, from admissions through to teaching and learning and exams. With the advent of the Equality Act, it was timely for the Institute to kick-start discussions on how disabled people can be better recruited and retained in the sciences and engineering.
The following article by CaSE Director Imran Khan originally appeared in the Imperial College newspaper Felix on Thursday 11th November
Science and engineering have serious institutional problems when it comes to diversity. I say this as head of an organisation whose purpose it is to champion this sector.
Only one in ten graduate engineers are women. Disabled people make up 5.9% of the total workforce, but only 3.8% in science, engineering, and technology. Only one in twenty chemistry lecturers isn’t white. Amongst our international competitors, the UK ranks disappointingly badly when it comes to how student performance in science and maths correlates with socio-economic background.
Annette Williams is Director of the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET (UKRC )
The language of struggle is common when talking about equality. Yes – it has been a struggle. And there is still much to be done. While progress has been made over 40 years of initiatives and modernisation, some of the current facts and figures about the participation of women scientists, engineers and technologists remain shocking.
This imbalance matters – not only for reasons of fairness, but because gender equality is good for business and innovation in science, engineering and technology (SET). It values and nurtures talent, builds a more inclusive and diverse workforce and can lead to better business performance, helping unlock economic recovery.