Athena Swan

Athena Swan promotes and supports the careers of women in Science, Engineering and Technology (STEM), and aims to address gender inequalities and imbalance in these disciplines and, in particular, the under-representation of women in senior roles.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

In the news - Only men at your event? This blog will shame you

BBC Trending reported this week on a blog called 'Congrats! You have an all-male panel', which posts photos of all-male conference or discussion panels stamped with a photo of David Hasselhoff giving a thumbs up. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it has gone viral on Tumblr, Twitter and the like, being shared tens of thousands of times and collecting contributions from around the world. As its author comments in the article, sometimes simply raising awareness of the scale of a problem leads to more long-lasting solutions than direct pressure itself.

How often have you looked around at a meeting or in the office, lecture hall or event space and seen a room full of just men?
Now one website is pointing out this phenomenon by publishing photos of all-male panels, or "manels". The site is a Tumblr blog, sarcastically called, Congrats! You Have an All-Male Panel.
It started in February and features 200 photos, submitted from people from about 10 countries. The simple but now-viral idea is a project of the Finnish feminist researcher and artist Saara Sarma, who specializes in internet parody images and memes.
Whether it's a Global Summit of Women with only men on the panel or back-to-back male panels in conferences, the images on the site bring home the message that gender equality among rostrums of leaders or experts is in short supply. 

Read more here.

In the news - Why “Praise Publicly, Correct Privately” is not always the best option

Managing other people - whether under or over us - is a fundamental part of work life, but the skills required are often learned in an ad-hoc manner. One piece of advice frequently passed around is “Praise Publicly, Correct Privately” - praise builds group and individual morale, but criticism is better received without an audience. However, one HR consultant argues that if there is no obvious public response to inappropriate behaviour, it becomes an accepted part of the workplace culture. She goes on to provide advice on when and how to carry out public admonishment. So if you manage other people, keep these principles in mind, and help create a more civil work environment for all staff.

If you are a devout follower of the “Praise Publicly, Correct Privately” rule, I invite you to reconsider.
I realize that in suggesting this, I’m bumping up against a time-honoured tradition. As early as 35 BC, Publilius Syrus asserted: “Admonish your friends privately, but praise them openly”.  In the 18th Century, Russia’s Catherine the Great stated that she likes to “praise and reward loudly, to blame quietly. And Vince Lombardi, the famed football coach, stated that his recipe for team success relied on a “praise in public, criticize in private” paradigm.
There are good reasons why this rule has gained such traction. It helps maintain people’s sense of dignity. It helps avoid resistance and anger amongst team members in response to criticizing a colleague in public. And let’s face it, people respond better to criticism when there is no ‘observer effect’.
But here’s the catch: when it comes to maintaining a civil, respectful workplace, the ‘correct privately’ notion is not only flawed, it is potentially harmful. In fact, in the respect arena the opposite applies:  “what’s done in public is corrected publicly”.
When public behaviour that is uncivil or offensive takes place with no managerial response, employees will rightfully conclude that this behaviour is condoned. Furthermore, by responding in private and not publicly, you miss invaluable opportunities for setting the standard, for all to grasp and follow.

Read more here.

In the news - Women reveal all the sexist questions they've been asked at job interviews

Yes folks, it does happen - women's bodily functions are still considered legitimate topics of conversation in job interviews at some companies, no matter how illegal it may be. While the most egregious were turned into a photo series by employment law firm Thomas Mansfield, the breadth of inappropriateness documented by the responses to their survey of UK graduates indicates just how deep and ingrained these attitudes remain.

Employment law firm Thomas Mansfield asked graduates from 20 British universities to share the most bizarre and offensive things they’ve ever been asked whilst applying for jobs. Many of the women’s responses show that sexism is very much alive some workplaces.
Sexist questions asked of the women include whether they would be willing to flirt with customers as part of the job, if they are planning on having children and intimate details about their periods.

Read more here and here.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Resources - Athena Forum

Complementing the Athena Swan charter is the Athena Forum - a board group set up to form and support policy decisions that affect women in scientific professions. Their latest statement concerns the tax status of childcare costs during conference and training attendance. After seeking guidance from HMRC, it has been confirmed that childcare costs incurred during 'work-related training' - including conferences and research visits - are indeed tax free.
For more details, read the full statement here.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

In the news - Mounting Evidence of Advantages for Children of Working Mothers

Nearly three-quarters of American mothers with children at home are employed. That fact doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for mothers to drop a toddler at day care or miss school plays. The mommy wars might seem like a relic of the 1990s, but 41 percent of adults say the increase in working mothers is bad for society, while just 22 percent say it is good, according to the Pew Research Center.
Yet evidence is mounting that having a working mother has some economic, educational and social benefits for children of both sexes. That is not to say that children do not also benefit when their parents spend more time with them — they do. But we make trade-offs in how we spend our time, and research shows that children of working parents also accrue benefits.

Read more here.

Friday, 8 May 2015

In the news - More Women Find Room for Babies and Advanced Degrees

Despite recent articles comparing the availability of family-friendly policies in the US and the EU, and generally finding the US coming up short, an article in today's NY Times suggests women are finding ways to manage, with the numbers of childless women in their 40s dropping to the lowest level in over two decades. 


The share of highly educated women who are childless into their mid-40s has fallen significantly over the last two decades, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Census Bureau.
The decline is steepest among women in their 40s who have an M.D. or Ph.D. Last year, 20 percent reported having no children, compared with 35 percent in 1994. Among those who have a master’s degree or higher, 22 percent are childless, down from 30 percent in 1994.
Demographers said that as the ranks of female professionals have grown, so, too, has the sense that career and motherhood need not be mutually exclusive. While finding the right balance of work and family may not be easy, they say, it has become an everyday challenge, rather than an unusual strain.
And many women who delayed childbearing as they were building their careers often find themselves wanting a family as they near the end of their reproductive years.

Read more here.

Meeting - Addressing the Women in STEM Funding Gap

Via the ScienceGrrl mailing list:

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to invite you to an evening workshop to discuss the funding crisis amongst groups that work with and for women in STEM and to devise a practical plan to financially support the essential work being done by grassroots and industry-focused groups.

When: Thursday 18 June 2015, 6:30pm-9pm
Where: Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL www.conwayhall.org.uk  (nearest tube: Holborn)

For many years, we’ve heard about how the number of girls and women studying and taking up careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is woefully low. And for years, there have been calls to action, pleas for something to be done.

We’re now at a point where there are many grassroots and industry-focused groups are working incredibly hard to support, inspire and celebrate women in STEM. But despite their success, they all lack one thing: Funding.

This evening workshop will tackle this problem head-on. Using a facilitated, open space format, attendees will drive the discussion, defining their own agenda and then breaking into groups for in-depth conversations, before finally sharing ideas with the group.

If you would like to attend, please sign up on our Eventbrite page, and please do feel free to pass this invitation on to anyone else you feel would be interested, especially representatives of large businesses, corporate social responsibility experts, philanthropists, funders, grant-givers and charitable institutions.


You can read more about the background to this event on the Ada Lovelace Day blog:

We look forward to seeing you.

Best regards,

Suw Charman-Anderson, Founder, Ada Lovelace Day
Dawn Bonfield, President, Women’s Engineering Society

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Over on Twitter - #IAmAScientistBecause

Although #RoyalBaby has now taken over the charts, the hashtag #IAmAScientistBecause is making steady waves of its own. Started by the L'Oreal For Women in Science programme, female scientists around the world have taken it to heart, posting their reasons for studying and working in every branch of STEM. These explanations are as varied as the women and their career paths, but tend to fall into one of 10 categories, summarised by L'Oreal on their discov-her.com website. So how about you? Why did you enter science? What keeps you going? Join the discussion - and don't forget the hashtag!

Job opportunity - NASA Postdoctoral Fellowships

For those willing to live in California for 1-3 years, the NASA Postdoctoral Fellowships scheme offers those with an interest in planetary and Earth sciences a fantastic opportunity to pursue research on the cutting edge of science. Anyone with a background in biology, chemistry, physics or geology (very broadly defined) is eligible, and, unlike most US government-funded schemes, does not require US citizenship to apply. Highly competitive, application deadlines are the 1st March, July and November each year. For more information, head over to the Program website.