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Women in Research: 3 Key Challenges That We Must Fight To Overcome

We will be discussing these challenges and the next steps in supporting improved access and progression for women entering and advancing in research and STEM careers at the Women in STEM Conference 2020 on 21st May. 

Find out more and join us here:

According to new rankings produced by the Leiden Ranking Team, women are listed as authors on only 30% of British academic research published between 2014-2017. This is only a small increase from 26% for research published between 2006-2009. These new findings are not unique to the UK, with similar trends evident in other research leading countries. Women also occupy very few senior academic roles, only 17.5% in the UK, despite over half of PhDs being awarded to women. So, what are the key challenges facing women in research and academia and how can we help to tackle them?

Gender Bias

Research shows that women are constantly held back in their career progression due to unconscious bias from senior decision-makers. This results in women in research starting their career at a serious disadvantage. However, steps can be taken to try and tackle this challenge, such as creating female-only professorships, ensuring women get to hold senior positions. These types of solutions require government led policy to ensure gender balance within higher education institutions.

Pipeline Progression

A major challenge facing women in research is the leaky pipeline. Girls at school and at university need to be encouraged and taught that women have equal opportunities to pursue an academic career. It is important to create an accessible academic landscape, to encourage more young women into these career paths. Mentors and role models are key in supporting young women through this process.

Career Breaks

Many women take career breaks, but many don’t. Often women experience a lack of opportunity in their career due to this perception that they will be taking a career break. For those women that do take a career break it is often difficult to return to research, especially at a senior level. There are organisations which help women return to research, such as The Daphne Jackson Trust, which works hard to support women who want to return to a research career after a break. But there needs to be a change in perceptions and stereotypes in order to prevent career breaks from hindering progression.

These 3 challenges are only a few of the wider issue’s women in research face. In order to enhance and support the progression of women in research we need to help shape and change perceptions of women in academia and research.