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Mind the gap! Discrimination contributes to science pay disparity

Discrimination plays a significant role in the pay gap between men and women scientists working in UK universities, according to new research carried out at the University of East Anglia.

Dr Sara Connolly, of UEA’s School of Economics, has undertaken research which reveals for the first time what proportion of the pay disparity is due to women being younger, more junior or employed in different types of institution or subject areas. Her preliminary results suggest that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of the pay gap is “unexplained” and may be due to discrimination against women.

“This confirms what many working women scientists have long felt,” said Dr Connolly. “My research provides sound facts and figures, rather than anecdotal evidence and hearsay, which I hope will be used to develop and implement effective policies to tackle this problem.”

Dr Connolly’s findings will be presented at the BA Festival of Science on September 5 at UEA as part of a discussion on the problems facing women scientists chaired by Jenni Murray of BBC’s Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

Her new analysis of the latest Athena Survey of Science Engineering and Technology (ASSET) findings shows:

- an average pay gap between men and women academics working in science, engineering and technology of £1000, rising to over £4000 for professors.

- women only represent 29 per cent of permanent academic staff in the sciences (despite women being employed in increasing numbers in universities and gender equality existing among science students).

- the gender gap widens with seniority – with women accounting for just 16 per cent of professors in the sciences.

- there is evidence of a ‘glass ceiling’.

Women in science: fulfilment or frustration? will be held in the UEA Drama Studio on Tuesday September 5 from 4-6pm. Jenni Murray of BBC Woman’s Hour will chair a panel including Prof Jocelyn Bell Burnell (Oxford), Dr Jo Dicks (John Innes Centre), Dr Ian Gibson (Norwich North MP), Dr Irene Lorenzoni (UEA) and Prof Peter Main (Institute of Physics).

BA president, Frances Cairncross will also be launching the next Athena survey 'ASSET 2006' at this event. The survey is open to anyone working in the fields of science, engineering, technology and medicine in the UK and runs until the 20 October 2006. It is hoped the findings will identify and gain a better understanding of the differences between men and women's career progression experiences and ambitions.

Press Office | alfa
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