Appendix 1: Government response |
1. The Government thanks the Committee for their
report on this important subject and for their recommendations.
The rewards of diversity are significant: recruiting staff from
the widest possible pool unlocks talent, contributes to the success
of research and brings major benefits to the UK's economy and
society. The Government will continue to promote and support equality
and diversity at all levels.
2. The Government agrees that it is important to
inspire the young to study science and to reduce barriers to retaining
women in scientific careers. The Government also agrees that whilst
research funders clearly have a wide sphere of influence, Higher
Education Institutions (HEIs) and other employers have the most
significant obligation to improve Science, Technology, Engineering
and Maths (STEM) careers for all researchers.
3. Responsibility for tackling these issues lies
with a range of bodies across the UK, including devolved bodies
in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The UK Government is
committed to working in partnership with these bodies to ensure
the best possible opportunities for women in scientific careers
in all parts of the United Kingdom.
Women in Technology and Engineering: A Call to
4. A round table on 17 December 2013, at 10 Downing
Street, attended by educators, business, academics and campaigners
agreed the principle of acting together in a national partnership-led
campaign of activity on Women in STEM.
5. The Women into Technology and Engineering Call
to Action asks organisations to work together in a national partnership-led
campaign of activity to boost female participation in technology
and engineering. The aim of the Call to Action is to support a
step-change in how women and girls are encouraged to consider
technology and engineering careers and the subject choices or
vocational pathways - especially the study of maths and physics
- that lead to them. Many organisations, institutions and campaigning
groups are working to address this problem. However it is clear
that no one organisation can solve this alone. Currently one half
of the population - women - are significantly under-represented
in engineering and technology careers. We believe that we need
to make the most of all our talents, and that means getting more
women to make the choices that can lead to these career options.
By doing this we will be substantially deepening the talent pool
available to employers.
6. The Call to Action asks businesses and other partners
to commit to concrete action in engaging with young people, contributing
to a national campaign and increasing the numbers of women in
technology and engineering in their own organisation. Specific
actions will necessarily differ for each organisation dependent
on organisational priorities, objectives, and on-going activities.
The Women into Technology and Engineering Call to Action provides
a core set of principles and a coordinated vision to help ensure
the widest range of young people are inspired by science and that
the barriers, (practical or cultural) to pursuing a career involving
science are reduced; in particular for girls and women.
7. Call to Action signatories will commit to actions
that support the shared aim of increasing diversity and in particular
female representation in mathematics, physics, technology and
engineering. Thus helping the UK to develop untapped talent.
8. Signatories to the Call to Action overtly demonstrate
their commitment to boosting skills in mathematics, physics, technology
and engineering and to promoting these careers and subject choices
as accessible to all. The Call to Action will develop a network
of organisations committed to these principles, and catalyse
the exchange of ideas and best practice.
9. Whilst the Call to Action initiative is a new
one, Government is already taking action on which it will build,
including work by the Research Councils in Equalities and Diversity
(http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/funding/diversity/); the Department for
Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) funded STEM Diversity Programme
led by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering and
the Equality Challenge Unit (http://www.ecu.ac.uk/) which runs
the Athena Swan Scheme and is supported by the Funding Councils
and UUK. As part of the BIS STEM Diversity Programme, the Royal
Society has published 'A picture of the UK Scientific Workforce'
which provides a diversity data analysis of the scientific workforce.
This will provide a much-needed baseline to measure progress in
this area. http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/policy/projects/leading-way-diversity/070314-diversity-report-executive-summary.pdf
Response to the Committee's Recommendations
10. Responses to the Committee's recommendations
are set out below. Many of them are for Higher Education Institutions
(HEIs) and other employers. As the Committee will know, HEIs are
independent of government. They are entirely responsible for recruitment,
promotion and retention of their staff and students. HEIs, like
other employers, are subject to the requirements of the Equality
Act 2010 and must ensure they do not discriminate in their recruitment
practices. HEIs are also required to meet the Public Sector Equality
Duty and take a proactive approach to advancing equality of opportunity.
11. UK Research Councils expect equality and diversity
to be embedded at all levels and in all aspects of normal research
practice and that those in receipt of Research Council funding
- promote and lead cultural change in relation
to equality and diversity;
- engage staff at all levels with improving the
promotion of equality and diversity;
- ensure all members of the research workforce
are trained and supported to address disincentives and indirect
obstacles to recruitment, retention and progression in research
- provide evidence of ways in which equality and
diversity issues are managed at both an institutional and department
12. As the UK Government is not involved in recruitment
and staff management decisions in HEIs it therefore does not set
'equality' targets for the sector in terms of its workforce.
However, the Government is encouraging universities to promote
equality and diversity in a number of ways. For example, the Government
has encouraged the sector to ensure its senior management reflects
the diversity evident in both the student and UK population. For
instance, in England, this has been done through the grant funding
letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
13. In addition, the recent teaching capital funding
announced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
will require universities in England to provide evidence of a
broad commitment to equality and diversity, such as an Athena
Swan award, in order to access government funding. This will focus
investment in institutions where there is existing good practice
and future plans to address issues of under-representation. Through
1:1 matched funding, the investment will give a £400 million
boost for English universities to promote science and engineering.
14. The Government will be monitoring trends in the
UK HEI Sector to see the effect of initiatives referenced in this
response. It will ask the Strategy Group for the Concordat to
Support the Career Development of Researchers to review recommendations
related to research funding. Of particular interest will be the
equality and diversity analysis of the Research Excellence Framework
(REF) and the impact of schemes like Athena Swan. If significant
progress is not observed over the next three years, Government
will consider further action.
Business case for retention of women in science
Recommendation 1 - The UK economy needs more skilled
scientists and engineers and this need will not be met unless
greater efforts are made to recruit and retain women in STEM careers.
15. The Government agrees with this statement and
believes the economy and our research base misses out when we
are not drawing scientists and engineers from as wide a talent
pool as possible. We are committed to ensuring that the STEM workforce
is diverse, reflecting wider society and makes use of all the
talents available to it. Despite positive progress, there are
still too many groups under-represented in this sector, including
Recommendation 2 - Gender diversity in STEM can
bring business benefits if well managed. The business case for
diversity in science is being reviewed by the Royal Society and
we expect that its findings will highlight how STEM organisations
can maximise the business benefits of diversity in the workforce.
16. The Government agrees that establishing the business
case for diversity in science is essential. As part of the BIS
STEM Diversity Programme the Royal Society is researching the
business case for diversity in the scientific workforce. Although
not yet published, early results show that both external and internal
benefits of diversity were identified by organisations. Increasing
diversity was seen as important for the long term success of an
organisation because a diverse workforce could be instrumental
in creating an environment that fosters creativity and innovation.
17. The study has also found that although integration
of diversity issues with the organisation's business strategy
is seen as important to success, it is not the only essential
factor; cultural and leadership factors and management systems
inhibit progress to diversity. Whilst previous research indicates
that business cases may be business context specific, they may
also depend on specific organisational cultural factors, leadership
behaviours and managerial practices. The study shows that some
training interventions could be beneficial but that embedded cultural
factors and assumptions that underpin managerial systems impede
the success of these.
Recommendation 3 - We suggest that the national
academies, learned societies and research funders review how gender
analysis can improve research findings within different STEM disciplines
and formulate guidance on the matter. Research funders should
encourage the consideration of gender dimensions of research from
18. The Government agrees that this is important.
Research Councils do in cohort and large scale observational
studies stratify to understand effects of disease causative factors
in different populations, Research Councils UK (RCUK) will clarify
communications in this area.
The role of Government
Recommendation 4 - Although we accept that difficult
financial decisions had to be made by the Government in the 2010
Spending review, it is disappointing that spending dedicated to
improving diversity in science was so significantly reduced. While
we have no concerns about the quality of the diversity programmes
of the National Academies, we have not been assured that they
could have the same reach and impact as the UKRC had.
19. The Government would like to assure the committee
that alongside the BIS STEM Diversity programme, diversity is
at the heart of all we do. The range of approaches to encourage
and support diversity is considerable and includes for example
the STEM Ambassador programme, extensions to the Athena Swan and
Daphne Jackson schemes, the National Academies, Research Councils
UK flexible terms and conditions for grants and fellowships, the
breadth of HE Funding bodies and Research Council peer review
panels, the Big Bang Fair and National Science and Engineering
Competition which are all aimed at increasing and encouraging
as diverse a range of people as possible (including women and
girls) to study and work in STEM. Increasing the reach and impact
of these efforts is a priority.
Recommendation 5 - The Government should monitor
the effects of its policies on mainstreaming diversity funding.
If it transpires that cutting UKRC funding and mainstreaming has
had a detrimental effect on the retention of women in STEM careers,
the Government should increase diversity funding.
20. All of the programmes mentioned above have measures
in place for the Government to monitor their reach and effect.
As part of the Spending Review process, progress in this area
will be reviewed.
Recommendation 6 - It would not be practical to
mandate that applicants for research funding must hold Athena
SWAN awards, although we commend the Chief Medical Officer for
taking this step with some NIHR funding streams. We recommend
that all public research funders should require applicants and
recipients to demonstrate that they are taking steps to improve
equality and diversity. Each research funder should publish and
disseminate this expectation and what actions will be considered
sufficient to meet this criterion.
21. RCUK has already mandated that it expects those
in receipt of Research Council funding to:
· promote and lead cultural change in relation
to equalities and diversity
· engage staff at all levels with improving
the promotion of equality and diversity
· ensure all members of the research workforce
are trained and supported to address, disincentives and indirect
obstacles to recruitment, retention and progression in research
· provide evidence of ways in which equality
and diversity issues are managed at both an institutional and
22. Research Councils recommend that the evidence
· Participation in schemes such as Athena
SWAN, Project Juno, Investors in People, Stonewall Diversity Champions
and other similar initiatives to demonstrate departmental level
· Input prepared for the Research Excellence
Framework research environment at unit of assessment level
· input appropriate benchmarking data (e.g.
heidi equality reports from HESA data)
· evidence of the application of the 'Every
Researcher Counts resource' to support this work
· other available and pertinent management
23. RCUK is committed to:
· review the overall effectiveness of the
approach at a Departmental / Institutional level through its Audit
and Assurance Programme
· discuss equality and diversity at Institutional
· reserve the right to introduce more formal
accreditation requirements for grant funding should significant
improvement not be evidenced.
24. The UK HE funding bodies are also committed to
supporting and promoting equality and diversity in research careers.
As part of their broader commitment to promoting equality and
advancing opportunity, they are responsible for monitoring HEI's
progress with regard to equality and diversity. This forms part
of their role as a funder and a regulator, and their commitment
to protecting students' interest in higher education (HE).
Recommendation 7 - The Athena SWAN Charter is
a comprehensive scheme that is widely supported across academia.
With increasing demand, the Equality Challenge Unit may require
additional resources and the Government should respond positively
to any such request.
25. The Government strongly supports the Athena SWAN
Charter and other schemes to improve the diversity within University
STEM departments and is represented on the Athena Forum. BIS has
recently announced that it will be providing funding to enable
the scheme to be extended into research institutes in 2014/15.
This follows a successful pilot funded by the Royal Society through
the BIS STEM diversity programme. As well as this additional funding,
the UK HE Funding Bodies provide support to the Equality Challenge
Unit (ECU) and Research Councils have seconded staff to work in
the team which administers Athena Swan.
26. We note that Committee encourages all HEIs conducting
STEM research to apply for Athena SWAN awards, or similar recognised
schemes. This is consistent with the requirement set out by RCUK
that all those in receipt of Research Council funding must promote
and lead cultural change in relation to equalities and diversity
and provide evidence of ways in which equality and diversity issues
are managed at both an institutional and department level. This
can include for example participation in schemes such as Athena
SWAN, Project Juno, Investors in People, Stonewall Diversity Champions
and other similar initiatives which demonstrate departmental level
Recommendation 8 - We encourage the Government
to work with the STEM community and schools to tackle gender stereotypes
in education, particularly at primary level. In addition, we re-iterate
the importance of engagement with STEM industry being part of
27. The Institute of Physics (IOP) has done some
significant work looking at gender stereotypes in education, most
recently in its "Closing Doors" report. The Government
is funding the IOP Stimulating Physics Network (SPN) £4.3million
over the period 2014-16 to provide support to schools to improve
take up of physics A level. Part of this work will include trialling
a series of interventions in a small number of schools to improve
significantly the number of girls progressing to A level physics.
The IOP has managed and developed the SPN since 2009 have been
highly successful in increasing participation in A-level physics.
To date, schools involved in the programme have seen a 16% increase
in the number of girls progressing to A-Level physics when compared
against non SPN schools.
28. As part of the Women into Technology and Engineering
Call to Action, Myscience (network of Science Learning Centres
and Partnerships, National STEM Centre and other programmes) will
ensure that all continuing professional development provided through
the network of Science Learning Centres and Partnerships, and
other programmes, embeds appropriate support on engaging girls
effectively, including issues around 'unconscious bias' and guidance
on good practice - by end July 2014.
29. The Research Councils support and fund a range
of activities, resources and schemes across the UK to inspire
young people by bringing researchers, schools and young people
30. BIS provides funding to STEMNET to deliver the
STEM Ambassador programme and provide expert advice and support
to schools across the UK. Over the next 12 months STEMNET will
review all of the resources that it has developed to encourage
STEM engagement, enrichment and enhancement to ensure that they
do not give rise to any unintentional gender bias through the
representation of its male and female role models in STEM disciplines
and careers. They will also apply this rigour to any resources
that STEMNET develops in future.
31. Government funded programmes such as the local
science learning partnerships and the Network of Teaching Excellence
in Computer Science already enable teachers to engage with STEM
industry. The Department for Education is funding five regional
science learning centres £8.2m over two years from April
2013 to March 2015 to provide specialist CPD for science teachers.
These centres will additionally coordinate and quality assure
up to 10 local Science Learning Partnerships (SLPs) each to bring
together teaching schools and other outstanding schools and a
range of other local partners including industry experts to deliver
CPD locally. Professional development opportunities offered by
the SLPs include working with scientists or industry partners
such as STEM ambassadors, collaboration with practising scientists
and engineers and active facilitation of education - industry
32. The Department for Education is also funding
Computing At School through the British Computer Society. They
are giving £2.1m over two years from April 2013 to March
2015 to create 400 Master Teachers who will create local networks
and deliver computer science CPD to around 16,000 schools (and
24,000 by the end of the project if the funding is extended after
March 2015). Over 2,000 computing professionals already voluntarily
work with CAS to support schoolteachers, from companies such as
ARM, BT, Microsoft and Google. These professionals are being linked
with the network to maximise their impact in the schools where
Women in academia
Recommendation 9 - Scientists are susceptible
to the same unconscious gender biases as the rest of the population
and it is unfortunate that some are unwilling to accept this simply
because their professional research requires them to be objective.
It is important to recognise that biases that harm women are held
by both men and women.
33. The Government agrees with this statement.
Recommendation 10 - We recommend that diversity
and equality training, including unconscious bias training, should
be provided to all STEM undergraduate and postgraduate students
by their Higher Education Institution (HEI). In addition, such
training should be mandatory for (i) all members of recruitment
and promotion panels for STEM jobs in HEIs; and (ii) all line
managers and supervisors of staff.
34. The Government agrees that equality and diversity
training is important for all including students, researchers
and academic staff. The Government will, through HEFCE [and UUK,
look at existing practice and use our influence to drive forward
Recommendation 11 - All research funders should
also ensure that diversity and equality training is provided to
all members of grant application review panels. This is particularly
important where women are under-represented on those panels and
in the STEM discipline being considered.
35. Research Councils take very seriously the responsibility
of ensuring robust and unbiased peer review. All reviewers, boards
and panels are required to act in a manner consistent with the
Nolan principles of conduct underpinning public life; that is
selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness,
honesty and leadership. Research Councils provide induction for
reviewers in a variety of ways to highlight these obligations
and are currently introducing, in certain areas, training on unconscious
bias. Progress on this will be reported later in 2014.
36. HEFCE provides research funding to universities
in England via block-grant, based on quality assessment through
the RAE/REF, with the HE funding bodies for Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland responsible for providing equivalent funding
to their respective HEIs. The assessment phase of REF2014 is currently
underway, the REF team has ensured that all assessment panels
were briefed on equality and relevant employment legislation that
will affect the REF. Panel members have been instructed to take
account of equality issues that may have a bearing on the volume
of research undertaken and published by submitted researchers
in the REF.
37. The REF Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel
(EDAP) advised on the implementation of equality and diversity
measures, as well as during the development of the arrangements
for the exercise. Institutions were required to develop, document
and apply a Code of Practice on selecting staff to include in
their REF submissions. The EDAP examined these Codes of Practice
and advised on their adherence to REF requirements. All Codes
were approved and will be published in early 2015, following publication
of the REF results.
38. Further information about equality and diversity
in the REF can be found on the REF website: http://www.ref.ac.uk/equality/.
Recommendation 12 - Universities should ensure
that recruiters and search committees identifying potential candidates
for senior roles give particular consideration to encouraging
suitably qualified female candidates, in line with the principles
of positive action.
39. See paragraph 10.
Recommendation 13 - Role models are important
for inspiring males and females to study STEM subjects and pursue
STEM careers. The lack of senior or high-profile women scientists
reduces the availability of female role models, which particularly
affects girls and women.
40. The Government agrees this is an important issue.
As part of the BIS STEM Diversity Programme, the Royal Society's
oral history project will promote accessible role models from
different ethnic backgrounds to inspire people from all backgrounds
to pursue a career in science. The Society also recently put out
a call for best practice case studies in recruitment and retention
which will provide more examples of accessible role models. They
will promote and showcase the best examples in recruitment and
retention where actions, policies, practices or initiatives have
successfully improved the diversity of the scientific workforce,
in particular the representation of women, disabled people and
those from minority ethnic groups.
41. The Government funds the STEM Ambassadors programme
which both raises awareness amongst children of the range of careers
that science and technical qualifications offer and provides stimulating
scientific activities to increase their interest in STEM subjects.
40% of the 27,000 STEM ambassadors are women.
42. Government also welcomes the work of other organisations
to provide role models such as STEMETTES, Science Grrl and the
Recommendation 14 - The National Academies, learned
societies and HEIs should emphasise both male and female role
models who have successfully combined a STEM career with family
life. In particular, highlighting male scientists who have combined
career with childcare and family responsibilities could help to
counter perceptions that these are women's issues rather than
matters that concern all parents.
43. The Government agrees this is an important issue.
The Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin fellowship scheme specifically
provides for outstanding scientists in the UK (both men and women)
at an early stage of their research career who require a flexible
working pattern at the time of application, due to personal circumstances
such as parenting or caring responsibilities or health issues.
The Society is currently carrying out a career tracking study
of the first five years of Dorothy Hodgkin Fellows to find out
what past research fellows went on to achieve following their
fellowships which will include case studies by male scientists
who combined career with childcare and family responsibilities.
44. The Daphne Jackson Trust, highlighted by the
Committee in their report, provides fellowships for both men and
women to help with their return the scientific workforce following
a career break. Case studies of the fellows highlight that there
are similar issues for both men and women returners.
45. Research Councils through the flexibility of
terms and conditions and fellowships provide opportunities to
combine flexibility to manage work and non work commitments. Work
is on-going to highlight useful case studies to better illustrate
this. The Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering also
offer similar flexibility within their Fellowships.
Recommendation 15 - There is strong support for
mentoring schemes and evidence that it encourages women to apply
for promotions and other opportunities. We recommend that HEIs
and other STEM employers should implement mentoring schemes for
all staff, with particular attention paid towards mentoring for
women and other groups that are under-represented at senior levels.
46. The Government agrees that this is an important
issue and will encourage STEM employers to implement such schemes.
This is also a matter for HEIs which are independent of government
(see paragraph 10).
The nature and funding of research careers
Recommendation 16 - Balancing the benefits of
short term contracts with the needs of Post-Doctoral Researchers
was examined by our predecessor committee in 2002. We are disappointed
at the lack of progress in the last decade. The system of short
term employment contracts for post-docs results in job insecurity
and discontinuity of employment rights that is difficult for any
researcher, but disproportionally deters women from continuing
with science careers. It also has implications for workforce productivity.
47. The Government does accept that the nature of
short term contracts can prove challenging for individuals. However,
universities are autonomous and it is for them to decide what
contracts they offer and ensure that they are complying with any
legal requirements. It must be recognised that the short term
nature of some research contracts is balanced against the need
to maintain the competitive edge that UK research is recognised
for. The benefit of the short term contract system is that it
allows the research base to be flexible and responsive.
48. The Government has however taken steps to address
the challenges of short term contracts, through HEFCE and RCUK's
support of Vitae's Concordat to Support the Career Development
of Researchers. The Concordat sets out a vision of working practices,
roles and responsibilities that will further the attractiveness
and sustainability of research careers. The sixth principle of
the Concordat focuses on equality and diversity. It is strongly
recommended that all members of the UK research community actively
address the disincentives and indirect obstacles to retention
and progression in research careers which may disproportionately
impact on some groups more than others. The Concordat recommends
that research posts should only be advertised as fixed-term where
there is a recorded and justifiable reason.
Recommendation 17 - We are pleased that some research
funders are recognising the benefits of long term contracts to
academic careers and encourage others to follow this example.
We encourage Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to provide longer
term posts for post-docs, recognising the benefit to scientific
progress of continuing expertise.
49. In its evidence to this Inquiry, RCUK flagged
the increase in the number of longer, larger grants and the benefits
that these could bring in terms of contract length. HEIs have
significant flexibility to manage these creatively.
50. This is however a matter for HEIs which are independent
of government (see paragraph 10).
Recommendation 18 - We recommend that the Government
should work with the Higher Education sector to review the academic
career structure and increase the number of more stable and permanent
51. This response refers to a number of initiatives
which should help to shape research careers in such a way that
talented women are not deterred from remaining and progressing
in academic STEM careers. These include Vitae's Concordat to Support
the Career Development of Researchers, the HE funding bodies,
Research Excellence Framework (REF) and RCUK's Statement of Expectations
for Equality and Diversity. The Government will continue monitor
the impact of these initiatives and if it does not see significant
progress will consider undertaking a review of the academic career
52. Figure 1 shows the percentage of full-time research-only
academic staff on fixed term contracts from 2003/2004 to 2011/2012
in the UK. It shows a decrease in the percentage of full-time
research-only academic staff on fixed term contracts in all subjects
(actual data can be found at Appendix A). This demonstrates that
progress is already being made in reducing the number of fixed
term contracts. (The data does not extend to 2012/2013 as several
changes were made to the staff record including revised methods
for the reporting of academic staff and professors. Direct comparisons
can therefore not be made with the figures presented for previous
Figure 1: Percentage of full-time research only
academic staff on fixed term contracts from 2003/2004 to 2011/2012
53. This is a positive trend and one which Government
will continue to monitor. There is further evidence that initiatives
are having a positive effect. For example, a three-year review
of the implementation of the Concordat to Support the Career Development
of Researchers, published in March 2012, notes that "despite
being a voluntary instrument, the Concordat is having a significant
impact across the higher education sector". The intention
to implement the principles of the Concordat is now widespread
in institutions, and the corresponding infrastructure is increasingly
in place. The review highlights that the majority of researchers
surveyed believe their institutions are committed to equality
and diversity and are signing up to Athena SWAN Charter, and that
they are treated fairly by their institution. The Concordat Strategy
Group will conduct a further review in 2015 to test that progress
has been sufficient.
Recommendation 19 - International collaboration
brings benefits to science but requiring researchers to relocate
is not the only way to promote it. We suggest that research funders
should remove from fellowship conditions any requirements for
researchers to move institute or country and instead provide funding
for shorter visits to other institutes for collaboration purposes.
We recommend that research funders work with HEIs to create funding
for permanent post-doc positions.
54. The Government has clear evidence that mobility
is healthy for scientists. It's good for science - good for growth
- when our researchers operate in a range of countries, building
networks and identifying potential commercial applications linked
to their work. According to a report by Elsevier those researchers
who spend more than two years working abroad before returning
to the UK are the most productive. UK researchers affiliated with
an overseas institution are, on average, 75 per cent more productive
than researchers without such a relationship. In addition, the
UK benefits significantly as an attractive place for transitory
researchers who are often highly productive during their stay.
55. Research Council Fellowships and studentships
do not require researchers to move institutions or countries.
Applicants can and do request funds to visit other institutions
for collaboration either as part of their fellowship application
or in separate grant applications. The emphasis in on excellence
with impact. This is the same for fellowships from the Royal Society
and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
56. With regard to funding for permanent post-doc
positions, as described in paragraph 47 The Concordat to Support
the Career Development of Researchers states that positions should
only be advertised as fixed term where there is a recorded and
justifiable need. HE funding bodies block grant Quality Related
research funding and the indirect costs from Research Council
grants can be used to bridge the gaps between research grants.
Recommendation 20 - Wherever possible, HEIs should
provide three months of bridging funding for post-docs, to allow
them time to apply for new contracts.
57. HEFCE provides research funding to universities
in England via block-grant, with equivalent funding provided by
the HE funding bodies for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
to their respective HEIs. This funding is non-hypothecated and
can be used flexibly by institutions to fund research in keeping
with their own strategic missions. HEIs therefore have the flexibility
to provide bridging funding to support researchers between grants.
58. As mentioned previously, the UK HE Funding bodies
are signatories of the Concordat to Support the Career Development
of Researchers and the second principle of the Concordat, states
that organisational systems must be capable of supporting continuity
of employment for researchers, such as funding between grants,
other schemes for supporting time between grant funding, or systems
for redeploying researchers within organisations where resources
Recommendation 21 - We appreciate that funding
from research councils and the REF must be based on scientific
and research excellence and support the continuation of this principle.
We are satisfied that HECFE takes seriously the issue of monitoring
the gender impact of the REF.
59. There is a strong focus on equality and diversity
in the REF. We are pleased that this has been recognised by the
Recommendation 22 - We recommend that HEIs and
heads of research groups should ensure that important non-research
activities are recognised in performance appraisals and promotion
60. The Government agrees with this recommendation
and welcomes calls from within the STEM academic community recently
for this to happen. Though not directly linked to performance
appraisals and promotion boards, the Research Excellence Framework
will recognise and reward excellence in research broadly through
the assessment of both academic outputs and broader impact. The
latter recognises and rewards the efforts of researchers to disseminate
research, engage with stakeholders and the public, and realise
the non-academic benefits of research.
Recommendation 23 - There appears to be a lack
of coordination and communication between research funders and
HEIs which, exacerbated by the use of short term contracts, results
in women falling into cracks in the funding system when maternity
support is required. Research funders need to make their maternity
provisions clearer to researchers and their employers.
61. RCUK have recently updated its briefing on support
for Maternity, Paternity, and Adoptive leave and pay for students,
supervisors, researchers and Investigators. This will be published
in Q1 2014/15.
62. There is a strong focus on equality and diversity
in the REF - units must provide information about their research
environment, including staff development strategies and equal
opportunities; and individuals whose circumstances have constrained
their ability to work productively throughout the assessment period
could be returned with fewer outputs without penalty in the assessment.
This would include researchers who have taken maternity leave
but also others with different circumstances.
Recommendation 24 - We have recommended a review
of the academic careers system which should examine how to better
support women taking maternity leave and help them integrate back
into the workplace. A move towards longer-term employment of academic
researchers should encourage maternity provisions in line with
other employment sectors.
63. Employers should recognise that, for parents
and others who have taken career breaks, this may be a time where
the actual and perceived barriers to return to research employment
are most acute. Account should also be taken of the personal circumstances
of groups of researchers. Working conditions should allow both
female and male researchers to combine family and work, children
and career. It is important for employers to respond flexibly
to requests for changed working patterns.
64. Under the Concordat to Support the Career Development
of Researchers, employers should ensure that working conditions
for researchers provide the flexibility necessary for successful
research performance in line with legal requirements, including
the sharing of parental leave, as recently introduced.
Management of research careers by higher education
65. The Government notes that the recommendations
included in this section of the report are aimed at HEIs. As stated
previously (paragraph 10) HEIs are independent of government.
They are entirely responsible for recruitment, promotion and retention
of their staff and students. HEIs, like other employers, are
subject to the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and must
ensure they do not discriminate in their recruitment practices.
HEIs are also required to meet the Public Sector Equality Duty
and take a proactive approach to advancing equality of opportunity.
Recommendation 25 - We support the shared parental
leave system being proposed by the Children and Families Bill,
as shared parental leave is an important step towards creating
equality for everyone in the workplace. However, simply introducing
a new system will not in itself change workplace attitudes towards
maternity, or the difficulties caused by taking parental leave.
Academia will still need to address the real and perceived career
damage which can be caused by taking parental leave.
66. See paragraph 10.
Recommendation 26 - All HEIs should review the
working hours of their academic staff and the management of research
groups to ensure that practices are in keeping with the needs
of those employees with caring responsibilities. Such matters
should not be devolved down to research groups. Line managers
who pressure staff into working unreasonably long working hours
should be held to account by their employer. In addition, every
academic researcher should have a named contact within the HEI's
human resources team to whom they can confidentially direct queries.
67. See paragraph 10.
Recommendation 27 - Scientific research cannot
always take place within regular working hours. However, we recommend
that research departments should determine and operate appropriate
core working hours with flexibility outside of those core hours.
This would ensure that most staff members are available for key
meetings while ensuring that those with caring responsibilities
are not disproportionately disadvantaged. Fellowships and academic
positions should be advertised with the option of working part
time unless there are insurmountable obstacles to such an arrangement.
68. See paragraph 10.
Recommendation 28 - A key way to increase the
participation of women in STEM careers is to enable them to return
following career breaks. We are pleased that the Government is
providing financial support to the Daphne Jackson Trust so that
it can develop a new fellowship in engineering. We encourage more
HEIs to sponsor and host Daphne Jackson Fellows.
69. The Government agrees that enabling women to
return to work after a career break is extremely important to
increase the participation of women in STEM Careers. This is why
BIS is funding the Daphne Jackson Trust to carry out a feasibility
study into extending their fellowship model to industry. This
is part of a package of measures highlighted in the Perkins review
of Engineering Skills aimed at increasing the number and diversity
of engineers. The Government would also encourage HEIs to sponsor
and host Daphne Jackson Fellows and other similar schemes.
Recommendation 29 - Careers advice and support
for academic STEM researchers is important for both men and women,
but a lack of it can affect women disproportionately. HEIs and
learned societies should encourage mentoring, support networks
and seminars at the research group level and monitor this practice.
We note that such activities are encouraged by the Athena SWAN
70. See paragraph 10.
Recommendation 30 - Authoritative and impartial
careers advice on options outside academia should be available
to all undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as researchers.
71. The Concordat to Support the Career Development
of Researchers highlights that a wide variety of career paths
are open to researchers. Vitae also have a range of information
about researcher careers both inside and outside academia and
a wide selection of career stories.
72. RCUK Careers in Research hosts an online suite
of stories providing an insight about life as a researcher and
the different career paths which researchers take. The case studies
highlight the opportunities research skills can give, not only
in academia but also in the wider world of business, industry
and commerce. Research Councils will continue to work to find
new ways of communicating and supporting those working in STEM
in career choices.
Recommendation 31 - Identifying the reasons why
staff choose to end their employment in an organisation is crucial
to identifying and challenging where poor behaviours and practices
may exist. We are disappointed that information on the reasons
why women leave academic STEM careers is patchy and largely anecdotal.
Recommendation 32 - Higher Education Institutions
(HEIs) should routinely conduct exit interviews and/or questionnaires
with all researchers leaving their employment. Each HEI should
publish this data in a suitably anonymised form so that organisations
working to improve diversity in STEM can make use of it. Organisations
such as the WISE Campaign, Equality Challenge Unit and national
academies should advise HEIs on the best way to gather and publish
this data in a consistent manner.
73. The implementation of the Concordat to Support
the Career Development of Researchers has ensured significant
changes to the HESA Staff Record. From 2012/13 academic year data
collections will enable better analysis and support actions by
institutions to understand the profile of the research staff cohort
and track their mobility between institutions and sectors. The
record includes the following new fields: activity after leaving;
location after leaving; parental leave and reason for end of contract.
74. The 2012/13 data was published on 27th February
2014 and HESA is currently assessing the responses provided by
HEIs in these new fields. The Government would welcome a review
of the data by sector specific bodies such as the learned societies
and national academies and would encourage these organisations
to share their findings with the STEM community.
Recommendation 33 - Our inquiry has not uncovered
any new issues on the topic of gender diversity in STEM subjects.
This indicates that the problems and solutions have long been
identified, yet not enough is being done to actively improve the
situation. While competitiveness for jobs is beneficial for science,
careers should not be constructed in such a way that talented
women are deterred from remaining and progressing in STEM. It
is astonishing that despite clear imperatives and multiple initiatives
to improve diversity in STEM, women still remain under-represented
at senior levels across every discipline.
Recommendation 34 - The under-representation of
women in STEM is caused by a wide range of factors. Emphasis is
often placed on inspiring young girls to choose science, which
is commendable, but such efforts are wasted if women are then
disproportionately disadvantaged in scientific careers compared
to men. It is disappointing that biases and working practices
result in systematic and cumulative discrimination against women
throughout STEM study and academic careers.
Recommendation 35 - Universities and other HEIs
are the employers of academic STEM researchers so they have ultimate
responsibility for employment conditions and the greatest obligation
to improve STEM careers for all researchers. While there are many
examples of good practice in diversity management, some HEIs appear
to be too content to devolve responsibility for working hours,
careers support and promotion down to research groups. More standardisation
is required across the higher education (HE) sector. We encourage
all HEIs conducting STEM research to apply for Athena SWAN awards,
or similar recognised schemes.