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Women Physicists Challenge Family Unfriendly Fellowships & Ask Leadership of Science Bodies to Job Share


The team of senior women physicists (including the University of Warwick’s Professor Sandra Chapman) who represented the UK at the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics first international conference on Women in Physics, looking at the under-representation of women in physics world-wide, have now produced a detailed report entitled “Women Physicists Speak” on the issue with recommendations including:

  • Action to involve more women physicists in science leadership. Key science bodies should ensure that young women are prepared for leadership roles and also consider innovative approaches, such as shared positions and term appointments.
  • Pause the ”career clock” and have flexible age limits and rules for grants and fellowships, to not disadvantage people who take time for family responsibilities. Provide funding sources to help people return to physics after a career pause.
  • Solve the dual-career couple problem by facilitating geographically co-located job opportunities and creative solutions such as shared positions.
  • Revise educational curricula and materials to ensure that topics and approaches that are favoured by girls are given due weight and show diverse physics career paths & job prospects.

The report’s authors note that the number of women physicists has increased over the last 50 years, particularly over the last 20, but, in spite of strong encouragement from central government, we are a long way from gender balance. The full report will be launched at meeting at Institute of Physics, 76 Portland Place London, on Thursday September 5th at 3pm. Copies of the report will be available at the launch but the full text has already been posted in pdf format on the AWISE (Association for Women In Science and Engineering) web site. The speakers at the launch will include Sir Brain Fender, Dr Joan Mason (chair of AWISE), Dr Judith Glover (Researcher into Women`s employment in science, engineering and technology) and Dr Helen Walker (Chair of the Women in Astronomy committee).

Peter Dunn | AlphaGalileo
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