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Daphne Jackson Trust: Getting Women to Return to STEM Research Careers

What are you currently working on at the Daphne Jackson Trust? Are there any projects for 2019 that you can share with us?

2019 is a conference year for the Daphne Jackson Trust, the conference takes place every two years and is on the 16-17th October in London and is free to attend. The conference represents an opportunity to bring together all the current Daphne Jackson Fellows as well as many former Fellows. Taking place over two days, it includes training for Fellows on the first day and for the first time a conference dinner for all delegates. Last time 70 fellows attended the conference. It’s at events like these that you really understand the reality of the great work of the Trust.

There are also lots of other projects coming up, including the post-fellowship survey for next year. Last year the trust launched its new website, this included a new video which truly encapsulates what the trust does.

What tips do you have for women that want to return to STEM research careers?

Never give up on your dreams and what you want to do. The Daphne Jackson Trust works with many women who have experienced a prolonged break from research. The Trust gives them the opportunity to return. If you are motivated, then there is nothing stopping you. The key is to do lots of research on what you want to do and then use an organisation, such as The Daphne Jackson Trust, to help and support you. The Daphne Jackson Trust offers lots of types of support for women who want to return to research, not only whilst doing the Fellowship but also during the application process, this includes help with confidence and mentoring.

Another tip for women that want to return to STEM research careers is to be practical. Question yourself, are you really ready? Is this the right time? Are you ready to return full time or part time? It is really important to plan and be practical about what you can expect from yourself.

What are the major challenges facing women in STEM and how can we help tackle them?

For schools and education there is a need for more inspirational role models and to take an individualised approach. Real role models, women, who are closer in age to those that they are trying to inspire, so that young women can really relate to them. Truly inspiring role models are so important.

In a work environment being a woman shouldn’t be a barrier. Equality of opportunity in the workplace is a major challenge. Determination is key, be single minded and do what you want to do. Never be afraid to report malpractice, point it out and ensure you have the same opportunities as others in the workplace. Communicate and share good practice, if something is going well then shout about it.

Companies and employers should use all the examples of best practice out there to encourage diversity and equality. It is important to bust urban myths and not perpetuate the problem. Employers can encourage their employees to become mentors. Men or women, who have been successful, should know that they can make an impact through becoming a mentor. It’s important to find people to champion each little bit of good work.

Can you tell us a bit about your inspiring fellows, what they do and how they are making a difference for women in STEM?

I absolutely love my job. All our Fellows and fellowship advisers are amazing. The Fellows cover every area of STEM research, including maths, physics, medical research and environmental research. It is a delight to work with the Fellows, they are inspiring in what they’re doing. All of them are returners who have experienced a career break, on average, of 5-8 years. They come back to research and are still juggling lots in their lives, either as carers, parents or their own health issues. It’s important for them to have the right work life balance. The Fellows also support one another, they meet at training courses and have formed geographic networks for peer to peer support. To find out more about the Fellows and their research you can see case studies on the Daphne Jackson Trust website.

Dr Katie Perry will be chairing the Women in STEM Conference 2019, to find out more and book on check out the website here:

This Q&A summary was written by Tatiana de Berg