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.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

All Royal Society Journals are open access until 30 November 2015

During 2015 we have been celebrating the 350th anniversary of Philosophical Transactions, the world's first science journal.
Philosophical Transactions, first published in 1665, pioneered the concepts of scientific priority and peer review which, together with archiving and dissemination, provide the model for almost 30,000 scientific journals today.
The anniversary officially comes to an end on 30 November and, to commemorate a highly successful year of activities and events, we are pleased to announce that all our content will be free to access for the duration of this time.

Click here for more details.

AAAS Marion Milligan Mason Awards for Women in the Chemical Sciences

A chemist and long-time AAAS member, the late Marion Tuttle Milligan Mason wanted to support the advancement of women in the chemical sciences. She also wanted to honor her family's commitment to higher education for women, as shown by her parents and her grandfather, who sent several daughters to college.
The fund will provide grants every 2 years, for the next 20 years, to outstanding women researchers in the chemical sciences. “Marion Milligan Mason understood how she had benefited from being born into a family that understood the importance of and supported the science education of women. It is that legacy that we come here to recognize and to continue,” said Shirley Malcom, director of AAAS Education and Human Resources. 
At the ceremony, each of the winners thanked their mentors and supporters, and gave a brief description of their research. While Whittaker-Brooks is a materials chemist, Fout and the other winners are working on topics that blend chemistry and biology.
Fout builds synthetic and organic molecules and studies models of them in her lab. One of the questions she is investigating is how hemoglobin reduces nitrite, a process that affects blood pressure.
Parent uses cryoelectronic microscopy to determine the three-dimensional structure of large, complex viruses. This information sheds light on how viruses recognize and infect their hosts.
Mackey studies how marine phytoplankton respond to changing nutrient and light conditions. She is particularly interested in how climate change is affecting these microscopic organisms, as the oceans become more acidic and the vertical mixing of water layers becomes more sluggish. 

Read more here.

Science editorial - Zero tolerance. Period.

By Bernard Wood

Earlier this month, famed astronomer Geoff Marcy's sexual harassment of female students was exposed. He has since resigned from the University of California, Berkeley, in the face of concerted pressure from peers and students. It is unconscionable for someone to use academic power to be a sexual predator, but the reality is that Marcy operated in an academic culture that turned a blind eye to such behavior.

Male professors have a special responsibility to be strong allies of the women affected by sexual misconduct. Many women who have been the target of inappropriate behavior, or have even heard of such incidents, believe that their careers will be jeopardized if they speak out. To work toward something for years, only to have it derailed by an unscrupulous superior or by malicious rumor, is a frightening prospect. Equal academic opportunity will not exist as long as individuals have to adjust their careers to avoid exposure to sexual predation. Women must be supported by their male colleagues, especially those with the greatest influence, when they speak out, make formal complaints, or press criminal charges. We should not wait for traumatized junior colleagues to demonstrate the greatest courage before those with the greatest power show any.

Read more here.

Taking Control of your Career as a Female Physicist

Taking Control of your Career as a Female Physicist
Wednesday 11 November, 10am–4.30pm
Hallam Conference Centre
44 Hallam Street, London, W1W 6JJ

The Institute of Physics invites you to a special careers event aimed at postgraduate female physicists. Focusing on PhD students and postdocs, this event will give an insight into the broad range of career paths open to you. Whether you want to stay in science, decide to use your skills and knowledge in a related field, or apply them elsewhere, you will find no shortage of challenging and rewarding careers.
This event aims to help, inspire and motivate you to explore the careers options open to you in a welcoming and friendly environment. You will hear from a range of speakers, all holders of PhDs in physics, who have gone on to pursue interesting, successful careers in diverse areas – both in and outside academia.
You can also sign up on the day for a free careers drop-in session and CV-writing clinic with the IOP’s careers service.
Places are limited to 50 attendees, so book now to avoid disappointment.
Professor Dame Athene Donald DBE FRS FInstP will provide the keynote address and there will then be parallel sessions throughout the day, featuring speakers from the world of intellectual property, meteorology, government policy, education, medical and academia. You will be asked to choose which session to attend when you register.
Speakers include:
Valerie Berryman-bousquet, R&D Manager, Sharp Laboratories of Europe
Annabel Cartwright, Industrial Liaison Officer, School of Physics and Astronomy Cardiff University
Emma Chapman, RAS Fellow, Imperial College London
Val Gibson, Professor, Experiment Group Leader, LHCb, Cambridge University
Lydia Harriss, Science Adviser at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
Deirdre King, Senior Medical Physicist in Diagnostic Imaging and Nuclear Medicine, Hermitage Medical Clinic
Clare Lynch, Government Operational Research Department
Jenny Wooldridge, Associate Programme Manager at National Physical Laboratory

There will be plenty of opportunity to network throughout the day. Lunch will be provided and we will be hosting an informal drinks/networking reception.

The IOP will cover your travel costs, so please keep your receipt to claim your expenses after the event.
Book now
If you have any questions please email

Monday, 26 October 2015

American Scientist magazine - Taking the Long View on Sexism in Science

By Pat Shipman

My first lesson in the harmful power of sexual innuendo and stereotype was when I was a new PhD in the late 1970s. I wrote a manuscript for a book based on my thesis, an analysis of fossil animals in Kenya. A major academic publisher turned it down because it was “too controversial.” Stunned that this analysis could be seen as controversial, I pressed the editor for specifics. Eventually, he admitted that one reviewer had said that I could only have been awarded a PhD if I had slept with my committee.
A few years later, I discovered by accident that I was the lowest paid associate professor in my institution—the same year I began working as an assistant dean. My underpayment was so pronounced that the dean of the entire institution told my chair to give me an immediate 20 percent raise. A friend in administration, congratulating me, said she had once overheard my chair remark that he didn’t need to give me a raise because my husband was well paid. 
The culture of discrimination is far-reaching and ongoing. This year I learned of two public instances of overt sexual harassment directed at junior women that took place at a professional anthropology meeting in April. The accounts became a major topic of discussion in anthropology circles, so much so that I was able to check the stories with both subjects as well as with others who had witnessed the incidents. In one case, a senior male in the field apparently believed commenting on a junior colleague’s breasts was acceptable behavior and possibly even flattering. In the other, a senior male researcher invited a junior female colleague to sit on his lap.
The quick reactions to Hunt and Huang indicate progress—albeit of a reactive nature. But as long as the leadership in science is so overwhelmingly oblivious to discrimination, the fight to root out conscious and unconscious bias against women will continue.

Read the full article here.

Letters to a Pre-scientist

Over on Twitter, I have just heard about a pen-pal scheme in the US called 'Letters to a Pre-Scientist'. The idea is that scientists of all stripes write letters to middle school students (years 7-9) in underprivileged communities to describe life as a scientist, the types of careers available, what gets them excited about science - anything that broadens students' experiences beyond the (sometimes) mundane nature of classroom lessons. Letters are exchanged 4 times a year through the students' teachers, with helpful advice available to scientists and teachers throughout. For the really keen, you can also do an online chat with a class of students!
Since the programme runs for a full school year, this year's assignments are already under way, but if you think this is a project for you - perhaps you want to get involved in outreach, but don't have the time to visit during school hours? - then they always welcome interested scientists to get in touch. Given the varied backgrounds of the students, the organisers are keen to attract scientists from around the world - so much the better if you are from an underrepresented group yourself.
For more details, and to register, visit the site here.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Age - Women must learn to be disliked on the long, lonely path to equality

Earlier this week a new study was published by psychologists at Arizona State University, who found that women who show anger are taken less seriously and deemed less influential than men. However, an angry man will have his colleagues rolling out the red carpet towards the chief executive's office. His ire makes him seem more authoritative.Academics refer to this social phenomenon as the dominance penalty. When women display characteristics of traditional leadership – such as decisiveness and strength – for which a man would be rewarded and respected, she will often have to deal with being disliked. By men and women.
The forces that stop Western women gaining equality with men both at home and at work are usually subtle social norms, which make us curb our behaviour or modify our desires without even realising it in an attempt to be accepted and hopefully loved. But awkwardness is par for the course on the tricky road to gender equality. Awkward conversations, awkward silences and, sometimes, awkward shouting matches. I've been there – as have many of my female friends.

Read more here.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Men And Women Biased About Studies Of STEM Gender Bias – In Opposite Directions

IFLScience blog, by David Miller

In 2012, an experiment on gender bias shook the scientific community by showing that science faculty favor male college graduates over equally qualified women applying for lab manager positions. Though the study was rigorous, many didn’t believe it.
“This report is JUNK science. There is no data here,” said one online commenter. Others justified the bias saying, "In every competitive situation, with a few exceptions, the women I worked with were NOT competent.”
Now, a study published in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) provides crucial clues about why some people were critical of the original finding – and other studies that have followed. The new study’s authors reasoned that men especially might devalue the evidence because it threatens the legitimacy of their status in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Men might also be critical because of prior beliefs that gender bias is not a problem in STEM.
To test these ideas, the researchers recruited 205 people from the general public and 205 Montana State University tenure-track faculty. These participants read and then evaluated the abstract of the now-famous 2012 study also published in PNAS.
Men rated the research quality of the abstract less favorably than did women in both samples. This gender gap was especially large for STEM faculty, potentially suggesting that evidence of bias might threaten men in STEM seeking to retain their status.

Read more here.

Fellowships ‘succeed in getting female researchers back into scholarship’ - THE

Taking a break from academia need not prevent scientists returning to research, according to an organisation that helps scholars back into the lab.
The Daphne Jackson Trust supports mainly female researchers who have taken a career break for family, caring or health reasons by securing retraining and a new position for them in a UK university through a two-year fellowship.
According to a new survey from the trust, nine out of ten of those who have completed the fellowship stay in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics related career.
Fewer, although still a majority, continued in research-based jobs. Seven out of ten were still in such positions in the first year after the fellowship, and 57 per cent five years afterwards.

Read more here.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Skills help for our Faculty of Science readers (particularly undergrad/early postgrad)

Just announced for the autumn term - skills workshops available to all, but particularly those early in their academic writing careers (final year undergrad/early postgrad). And if you think of something not already on offer, be sure to get in touch with the Learning Support office!

Learning Support Workshops for autumn 2015 (Faculty of Science)
These workshops are for anybody in the Faculty of Science to attend.
Each Workshop lasts around 50 minutes. The sessions are relaxed and friendly and provide knowledge to help you to develop your academic skills and gain good marks in your coursework.
If you want to attend any session just turn up on time in St Michael’s Building, room 0.10.
There is no booking needed. Attendance will be on a first come, first served basis. There will be no admission after the session has started.
For any topic with multiple dates, they are repeats, not a course. Only attend one session.
If you can’t make a session you really want to attend, please contact me at and I will try and arrange a session for you. If there is a subject (such as poster presentations, reflective writing, project proposals) that you’d like a workshop on, please also get in touch.

Essays; planning, structure and editing
4 pm – 4.50pm
Essays; introductions, paragraphs, conclusions
11am - 11.50am
Referencing using APA 6
3pm - 3.50pm
Planning and organising a literature review
3pm - 3.50pm
Critical writing
11am - 11.50am
Planning and organising a primary research project
3pm - 3.50pm
Referencing using APA 6
11am - 11.50am
Critical writing
11am - 11.50am

Essays; planning, structure and editing
An interactive look at how to plan, research, structure and polish your essays, so that they stand out.

Essays; introductions, paragraphs, conclusions
What makes a great introduction? How should I structure paragraphs? How do I write a good conclusions paragraph? This session will explore all these questions.

Referencing using APA 6
Why do we reference? What and when should I reference? How should I reference? How do I deal with unusual sources? This is a dynamic session tailored to answer your questions about using APA (sometimes referred to as Harvard APA).
(If you are on a course which uses Vancouver and would like an equivalent session, please contact

Planning and organising a literature review For year 3 (level 6) students and above.
A literature review is a very specific type of task and one which is hard to carry out well. This workshop will discuss methods, approaches, analysis, structure and function of a literature review, using a practical perspective. It will highlight what a literature review should do, where students go wrong in writing

Critical writing
When a lecturer asks to see critical analysis or critical thinking, what do they actually want to see? This workshop looks at ways of analysing academic texts and writing critical analysis.

Planning and organising a primary research project
For year 3 (level 6) students and above. Organising and carrying out your project or dissertation can be a daunting task. How do you plan a task like this? How much time is there? How much work should you do? How is it organised and what should it contain? This session will give you the answers that you need.

Do men really use sexism to bond with each other at work?

By Martin Daubney, The Telegraph

In 1995, when I started as a researcher on a women’s magazine called Bella, I entered a hotbed of sexual tension.
The features desk – who called themselves “the Bella Babes” – would routinely swoon over the heartthrob-of-the-day, George Clooney, who had just burst onto our screens (and, often, out of his clothes, it seemed) in hospital drama ER.
Pictures of the lantern-jawed hunk – smouldering and topless – were plastered all over the office: on computer monitors, cork boards and even by the tea and coffee making facilities.
We cannot allow the aftermath of Sir Tim Hunt’s “the trouble with girls” incident to become “the problem is men”. Yes, some sexism still exists in the workplace, and it needs to be stamped out when it’s serious.
But to suggest that men routinely use anti-women banter as some form of crass workplace bonding exercise is not only insulting, it’s deeply sexist – and this time it’s men who are being taken for a ride.

Read more here.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair - Weds 14/10

The annual Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair, organised by the Department of Employability, will be taking place at the Portsmouth Guildhall on Wednesday 14 October between 11am and 3pm.

This event will provide an excellent opportunity for our students to meet a variety of employers and find out further information on the wide range of placement and graduate opportunities available to them.

Menzies LLP are the fair sponsor this year and there will be 65 employers in attendance including, PwC, Royal Mail, Microsoft, BMW Group, New Look and Capgemini.

Please would you promote and encourage students to attend this event.

Many thanks
Professor Paul Hayes, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education & Student Experience)

What is so exciting about physics?

From Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge:

We are pleased to announce the launch of 'What is so exciting about physics?', a short booklet written by young female physicists to explain why we think physics is the most exciting subject to study beyond GCSE (not that we are biased in any way...). 
The booklet showcases several young women with backgrounds in physics, who now work in a wide range of fields- from law to online games and medical research. We hope you enjoy reading their stories as much as we have! It also includes a quiz and some more information on what physics is really about. 
If you're part of a school or other organisation and would like hard copies of the booklet to distribute, please contact us.

Download the booklet here.

6 year fellowship for female scientists at TU Delft

You are a highly talented and motivated pioneer holding a PhD in a relevant discipline, with the ambition necessary to become a full Professor. You have a proven drive for scientific excellence demonstrated, for example, by publications in first-rate, international scientific journals, the ability to compete for external research funding and an extensive international network. You have a few years of post-doctoral working experience in industry or academia, preferably including experience outside of the Netherlands.

Depending on your level of experience you either are, or have the clear potential to develop into, an academic leader who guides and inspires her group. You have excellent communication and social skills, a coaching leadership style and experience in supervising research projects. You are self-critical and able to align your personal ambition with being an inspiring member of a team of first-rate colleagues.

You have educational experience and an affinity for teaching, as you are expected to participate in and contribute to the development of the department’s teaching programme.

The fellowship programme is open to scientists currently not employed by TU Delft.

Duration of contract 
6 years with evaluation for permanent employment after max 5 years
Salary ranges
Assistant professor           3324-5171 gross per month
Associate professor          4607-6160 gross per month
Full professor                   5103-8971 gross per month

The application procedure is open until 8 January 2016.

More details here.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Student Travel Bursary - Deadline 15th Oct

Student Travel Bursary

The Geochemistry Group offers bursaries to postgraduate researchers registered at UK universities or research institutions to aid travel to a geochemistry meeting either in the UK or internationally. In previous years, students have received bursaries to support travel to conferences such as EGU and Goldschmidt, as well as a number of smaller meetings. Students must meet the following criteria to be considered eligible:
  • The student must present either a talk or a poster. Oral papers will be given precedence.
  • The student’s research must fall within the remit of the Geochemistry Group
  • Preference will be given to members of the Mineralogical Society or The Geological Society

There are three application rounds each year. These deadlines are 15 January, 15 May and 15 October. Any applications received will be considered after the ensuing deadline, unless explicitly requested otherwise. 

More details at and

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

New guidebook aims to help (all) postdocs

Although pitched as being for female postdocs, this guide offers advice to all early career scientists trying to navigate new freedoms as an independent scientist. In particular, it offers practical steps to promote yourself both in and outside academia, something not all academic advisers are willing or able to offer. Although it has a US-slant, this guide can offer new ideas or opportunities to postdocs on both sides of the Atlantic, if they are willing to pursue them.

It’s no secret that women pursuing careers in science face various challenges, and those related to having children can be particularly pronounced for female postdocs. To help address some of these issues, the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) has released the Advancing Postdoc Women Guidebook. And while the guidebook is primarily intended for women, much of the information—including chapters about career planning and building good mentoring relationships—is relevant for all readers, regardless of gender.
One of the guidebook’s primary aims is to make readers aware of the many resources that are available to them, particularly from professional societies and associations, such as mentorship programs, career development workshops, and funding opportunities. “There are a lot of really great resources available that I don’t believe people know about, so this guidebook is intended to shine a light on them,” says NPA Executive Director Belinda Huang, who edited the guidebook and wrote a chapter. Different societies and associations offer different programs and resources, so seeing them all in one place can also alert postdocs to opportunities they might not have realized were lacking in their disciplines and empower them to advocate for themselves. “If you don’t find the program or resource offered, ask your society for it,” Huang advises.

Article here and PDF guide here.

Athena SWAN committee meeting, October 2015

Dear all,

The next meeting of the Athena Swan committee members of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Portsmouth will take place on Wednesday, the 7th of Oct. 2015. We welcome any staff members interested in participating. The meeting details and agenda are:   

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Portsmouth
  Athena Swan Committee Meeting

Wed 7th of Oct. 2015, 16.00 - 17.00, Location: HoD's office

 1. Apologies

2. Update on the SEES Athena SWAN Faculty committee meeting

3. Discuss and review the latest AS application draft. New deadline Nov. 2015. 

4. Discuss and review the Actions Plan

5. Plan the next focus group meetings in SEES   

6. Concluding remarks and agree a date for the next meeting