Athena Swan

Athena Swan promotes and supports the diversity of all staff in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and aims to address gender, race and sexual orientation inequalities and imbalance in these disciplines and, in particular, the under-representation of certain groups in senior roles.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Taking Control of Your Career as a Female Physicist

The IOP will be holding a one-day careers event in London for undergraduate and PhD students, and those in the very early stages of their career in physics. The aim of the day is to have female speakers inspiring female physicists to consider a range of careers open to them, and to provide practical advice and information about the skills and experience they need to progress in their careers.
Dame Athene Donald, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge, has agreed to give the keynote talk and then host questions and discussion afterwards. Information on the day's agenda and speakers will be provided in the next couple of weeks.
They will also be running parallel sessions of speakers, and, alongside this, Sara Shinton (careers consultant and author of forthcoming IOP publication ‘Navigating the Funding Landscape’) and the IOP’s Careers & CPD Manager, Vishanti Fox, will be providing bespoke one-to-one careers sessions, helping students with their CVs, interview techniques, etc).
Travel grants will be available to delegates, as the IOP appreciate the difficulty that many students face in accessing events like these.
There will be plenty of opportunity to network throughout the day. Lunch will be provided and they will be hosting an informal drinks/networking reception.
Event Title
Taking Control of Your Career as a Female Physicist
Wednesday 11 November 2015, 10:00 – 16:30

Click here to register for the event:


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Researcher's Network - funding help

Post by Nicola Haines to the Researcher's Network:
Aspiring European Research Council Starting Grant applicants might be interested in a talk from Dr Jessica Meyers (University of Leeds) taking place on Friday 9 October 5pm, Milldam LE0.6. Jessica’s research interests lie at the intersection of the histories of gender, warfare and medicine, with a focus on British masculinities during and after the First World War. Jessica was recently awarded an ERC Staring Grant to explore the gendering of formal and informal caregiving in Britain in the aftermath of the First World War. Jessica will speak about the process of making her application. If you’re wondering what you need to do to be in a position to compete for a Starting Grant, especially as an arts/hums/social sciences researcher, come along and hear from someone who’s done it already.

Book review - A Singularly Unfeminine Profession: One Woman's Journey in Physics

The brilliant theoretical physicist Mary K. Gaillard has made major contributions to the standard model of particle physics and to superstrings, a candidate theory of everything. In 1981, she became the first woman with a tenured position in the physics faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. Her frank autobiography, A Singularly Unfeminine Profession, is an honest, revelatory account of her many discoveries, made as she battled gender bias and faced the demands of raising three children.
Born in New Jersey in 1939, Gaillard has a “survival mechanism” born from an inherent belief in equality, nurtured by her parents and school, and a rebellious tendency to question the world around her. Having fallen in love with physics at school, she won a scholarship to Hollins College near Roanoke, Virginia. It included a year in Paris at l'École Polytechnique — her first exposure to the culture that was to become her nemesis.

Read more here.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Blog - How women in academe can avoid being pulled in too many directions?

Pulled in too many directions? Conflicting roles may be holding you back. Leslie, a researcher and endocrinologist, was frustrated after losing a weekend morning to painting furniture at her kids’ school. Leslie sighed and told me, as part of my academic career-coaching work, “We really shouldn’t have taken this on. We thought it was something we could all do together, but the kids couldn’t help much, and they ended up playing in the next room while Jeff and I worked. I’m disappointed because we didn’t have much time with the kids this weekend, and with school starting, things will get even more hectic.”
To understand why it is hard for someone like Leslie to say no to volunteering, one needs to consider role conflict. Leslie’s gender socialization told her that as a caring mom, she should be actively involved at her children’s school, but the demands of her academic career left her with limited time. The school’s culture of volunteering created external pressure, but there was internal pressure as well. In the end Leslie realized that although she could not take on big projects or weekly commitments, she could occasionally take off a couple of hours to volunteer in the classroom or watch a performance. This middle ground fulfilled her desire for involvement without causing undo stress.

Read more here.

Earth Science Women's Network

An international peer-mentoring network of women in the Earth Sciences, many of whom are in the early stages of their careers. Our mission is to promote career development, build community, provide opportunities for informal mentoring and support, and facilitate professional collaborations. 

The Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) is an organization dedicated to career development, peer mentoring and community building for women in the geosciences. We have over 2000 members worldwide, spanning large research universities, small liberal-arts colleges, government agencies, and research organizations in the U.S. and more than 50 countries. Membership has grown through grass-roots member networking and includes upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, professionals in a range of environmental fields, scientists working in federal and state governments, post-docs, junior and senior academic faculty and scientists.

Read more about them here, or follow them on Twitter at @ESWNtweets.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Book review - Why women in science are lonely — and shouldn’t be

Current (and future) women in science should be immensely grateful. In “The Only Woman in the Room,” an accomplished creative-writing professor at the University of Michigan, who also happens to have a bachelor’s degree in physics, has chronicled her travails as an undergraduate at Yale some 40 years ago, offering an engrossing look at the barriers still facing women in science. Rather than dwell on the dry statistics found in so many essays on this topic, Eileen Pollack draws attention to this important and vexing problem with a personal narrative, beautifully written and full of important insights on the changes needed to make those barriers crumble.
If Pollack had been a boy, she would have faced no obstacles at all in nurturing her math and science talents in elementary and high school. Boys less skilled than she were promoted to accelerated classes, but she was barred from taking them. “A girl who got skipped ahead in math might find her social life had been destroyed,” she writes about the philosophy of her Upstate New York school. It didn’t help that she was the smartest person in the room; her teachers were annoyed by her “unladylike” behavior of asking too many questions in class. Under social pressure to hide her accomplishments, she developed the habit of making self-deprecating jokes about herself. “At first, I didn’t believe what I was saying,” she confesses. “After a while, I did.”
Not until 2005, when Harvard University’s then-president, Lawrence Summers, infamously asked why so few women achieved tenured positions in the hard sciences — physics, mathematics, engineering and computer science — did Pollack reexamine her story to find answers. She started by conducting a sort of academic “autopsy,” going back to her old haunts at Yale. She learns from one of her past professors that her senior thesis was “exceptional.” But he never directly said that at the time, a validation she had vitally needed in deciding between science and the humanities. What she desired more than anything else was a virtual pat on the back. Another professor honestly admitted that he wasn’t equipped to mentor at the emotional level, that encouragement wasn’t in his nature. He figured those truly passionate about physics would persevere on their own.

Read more here.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Science Careers blog - Funding woes for early-career female scientists

Early-career female scientists have a harder time obtaining funding than their male colleagues do, according to two recent independent studies. Female postdocs who apply for a prestigious independent research fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) are less successful than their male counterparts, although the difference is relatively small. And on this side of the pond, a small-scale study suggests that the startup support for newly hired female faculty members in the United States is less than half of what their male colleagues receive. The generalizability of these results remains to be determined, as do their underlying causes, but both studies suggest that the observed funding disparities may be a factor in the persistent underrepresentation of women in the sciences.

Read more here.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Calling NERC-funded PhD students! Deadline Monday the 21st September!

NERC offer the opportunity to board the RRS Discovery, the UK's state-of-the-art research ship, to help shape the future of equality in environmental science.
In an open discussion/workshop format, you will get to combine your brainpower with (amongst others):
  • Dr Helen Czerski, Physicist, oceanographer and BBC broadcaster
  • Professor Jane Francis, current Director of the British Antarctic Survey
  • Dr Paola Crippa, atmospheric scientist, Newcastle University

NERC's 50th anniversary programme will reach a high point in October 2015 with the arrival in London of RRS Discovery - the UK's state-of-the-art research ship - when a series of events and activities will be hosted on board (
As part of the series, female NERC-funded post-graduate students are invited to apply to take part in an exclusive on-board event to:
  • Meet inspiring scientists to celebrate the successes of women in environmental sciences
  • Consider the challenges and future opportunities to the equality agenda
  • Participate in an open workshop, with a view to helping inspire the next generation of female scientists. Your ideas will help shape the future of NERC’s Public Engagement approach.
Application Process
To apply for a place please complete the following application form answering the two-fold question:
  • What do you see as the key barriers to women in science?
  • How would you inspire the new generation of women in science?
Your application form may be supported by additional material, such as a video clip or infographic, which must be uploaded within the form.You must be available on the 11th October for this event.
Applications must be completed by midnight (BST) Monday 21 September 2015. Applications will be judged by an independent panel week commencing 21 September. All applicants will receive notification of the outcome of their application 5pm Friday 25 September 2015, via email.

Application and contact details here.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

From the Researcher's Network - Portsmouth Café Scientifique

Every fourth Tuesday of the month the University hosts the Portsmouth Café Scientifique at Le Café Parisien. The Portsmouth Café is part of the Café Scientifique international initiative ( Groups have been set up all over the world, meeting regularly to explore and debate scientific research questions over coffee or a glass of wine.

The Portsmouth Café attracts a diverse audience of academics and members of the public and provides a great opportunity for researchers at any career stage to talk about their work in an informal environment, while gaining valuable CV points for ‘public engagement’. Previous speakers include Pete Rowley (SEES), Jie Tong (Engineering), Jerome Micheletta (Psychology) and Karen Masters (ICG).

If you think you might like to be a speaker (or want to nominate someone), want to find out more, or are interested in getting involved in organising the events, please get in touch!

Maricar Jagger

Update 19/9: Portsmouth Café Scientifique have replied to point out there is no meeting on the 22nd September, but the schedule for the rest of term is nearly complete. Keep checking their website for updated info!

Valentina Tereshkova: USSR was 'worried' about women in space

The first woman in space has revealed that the Soviet authorities thought it was "too dangerous" to send more female cosmonauts into orbit.
Valentina Tereshkova told BBC News that she protested, writing a letter to the central communist party committee.
It took the authorities 19 years to send another woman into space.
Ms Tereshkova was speaking at the launch of an exhibition about the Soviet space programme at the Science Museum.
She told me: "On Earth, men and women are taking the same risks. Why shouldn't we be taking the same risks in space?"
"We had been preparing for another female flight but it was (the head of the space programme) Sergei Korolev's decision not to risk women's lives because one of the women in the space corps already had a family."
I asked her whether she and the five other trained female cosmonauts disagreed with the decision.
"We were against that decision," she told me firmly. "We wrote to the central party committee disagreeing with the decision."

Read more here.

And for something different.....'Women of Rock' images

For those with a mineralogical bent, an upcoming art show, entitled ‘Women of Rock’, exhibits the mixed media work of female artists working with geology, including some amazing crystal paintings. Some examples are at, while more details on the motives and artists being exhibited are at
Thanks to the Mineralogical Society newsletter for the link.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

'People like me' Resource pack and app

SEPnet has sponsored a new career resource for girls age 12 - 15 based on the 'STEM - Not for People Like Me' report .and allows girls to use a quiz to find 'people like them' and where they are happy and successful in their careers.
The platform including the App via the App store can be downloaded from:

 The revolutionary element is that it focuses on the aptitudes, attributes, characteristics and personalities of people who are happy and successful in their work in science.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Postdoc awards from the Geol Soc's Geochemistry Group

As announced at Goldschmidt, the Geochemistry Group would like to present two new prizes, targeted at post-doctoral researchers:

1) The Early Career Prominent Lecture Programme (sponsored by Agilent) 
The Geochemistry Group welcomes applications from all Early Career Researchers (ECR’s) registered at universities or research institutions within Great Britain or Ireland for the ECR Prominent Lecture Program, sponsored by Agilent Technologies. The award is open to any researchers who hold a PhD and are currently based at an eligible institution without a permanent contract.

2) The Geochemistry Group Postdoctoral Researcher medal.
The Geochemistry Group welcomes applications for the Geochemistry Group Medal for an outstanding peer-reviewed scientific geochemical paper, published by a UK and Ireland-based post-doctoral researcher. The medal is open to researchers who hold a PhD, are on a temporary research contract that is not an independent research fellowship, and are currently based at an eligible institution.

Submission deadlines for both are 15 Jan. 2016.

Remembering Rosalind: Sister recalls DNA pioneer brought to stage in Kidman play

When scientist Rosalind Franklin, who helped discover the structure of DNA, died in 1958 she was largely unknown. A play about her life starring Nicole Kidman is now on in London, but Ms Franklin's sister warns against seeing her as an undervalued victim.
It is 57 years since Jenifer Franklin (now Jenifer Glynn) lost her elder sister Rosalind to cancer. With interest in Rosalind now so great, Jenifer has published an intimate memoir of growing up with the bright, sometimes difficult girl who became an emblem of female attainment in science and medicine.
"But all her career my sister thought that as a woman scientist she had to try a bit harder. Undoubtedly she could be hard to get on with at times. Perhaps she suffered because Crick and Watson were prepared to go out on a limb - Rosalind wanted to be terribly sure of her facts before going public.
"I suspect that as a woman she was given less room to experiment and fail. But Rosalind never saw herself as a victim.
"People want her to be a feminist icon but one has to accept that when she died in 1958 there were still only the first stirrings of feminism. You can't rewrite the history of a whole era. But now Rosalind has become a public figure, in the way we could never have imagined."

Read more here.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Opening Doors Conference - An interdisciplinary conference on gender in education

Presented by the IOP and GEO, this conference aims to bring together practitioners and academics to discuss the important issue of gender and education.  As you may be aware, the Institute has done a lot of work on gender issues in STEM subjects. The factors determining student choices are connected to much broader issues and our most recent project Opening Doors, funded by the GEO, had no such subject emphasis and instead focussed on whole school culture. The conference will be chaired by Dame Barbara Stocking and will launch the findings of our project. This will be followed by reviews of current research in the fields of social science, neuroscience and psychology from Professor Louise Archer, Dr Stephanie Burnett Heyes and Dr Gijsbert Stoet and an afternoon panel discussion.

Date: 20th October 10am - 4pm
Location: 8 Northumberland Ave, London, WC2N 5BY
Cost: £60

Delegates at the conference will represent a range of learned associations, academics, educators and policy makers. We would like to invite you and your colleagues to join us at the conference. Those interested in attending the event should visit for more details and registration