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.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Science Careers - Women left behind as scientific enterprise grows

The number of researchers at work today throughout the world—about 7.8 million—has grown 21% in the past 6 years, according to the UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030, published 10 November. “This remarkable growth is also reflected in the explosion of scientific publications,” which increased by 23.4% between 2008 and 2014—from 1,029,471 to 1,270,425 a year—the report adds.
Many of the world’s students are women, including 53% of those earning bachelor's or master's degrees, “but their numbers drop off abruptly at PhD level,” the report notes. At that level, men constitute 57% of those completing degrees. “The discrepancy widens at the researcher level, with men now representing 72% of the global pool. The high proportion of women in tertiary education is, thus, not necessarily translating into a greater presence in research.” Overall, “[t]he glass ceiling [is] still intact,” with “[e]ach step up the ladder of the scientific research system see[ing] a drop in female participation until, at the highest echelons of scientific research and decision-making, there are very few women left.” In addition to constituting a minority of only 28% of researchers worldwide, women “also tend to have more limited access to funding than men and to be less represented in prestigious universities and among senior faculty, which puts them at a further disadvantage in high-impact publishing,” the report observes.

Read the full article here.

AGU blog - Women don beards for documentary about inequality in the geosciences

By Lexi Jamieson Marsh

“I want to be a paleontologist,” I thought as a kid, probably like many others who yearned to go outside and hunt for fossils. But as the years went on and my dinosaur wallpaper faded in my childhood bedroom, paleontology seemed to be a job for people in books and on television. Then I met Ellen Currano.
When Ellen confided in me that she doesn’t feel like she fits the image of a paleontologist, I was speechless. Ellen can never just be one scientist among many, she told me, because she is a woman. She has to disprove the stereotype that women are weak while exhibiting herself as a success story – a woman who can make it in a man’s world – adding pressure to an already intense workload. She can’t just do her work, she has to somehow be more. And, she isn’t the only woman in science to feel this way: only five percent of officers at the Paleontological Society, a professional organization for paleontologists, have been women over the society’s 100-year history.
We women can reference numbers like these to concretize our personal experiences of being outsiders, but the truth is, very few of those in a position of power will look to these numbers as the inspiration to enact the change we so desperately need. We need something more, something a bit avant-garde, and yet something that can still inspire.
One evening while discussing this issue, Ellen exclaimed “I wish I could just walk into the room with a fake beard on my face. That would make my life so much easier!”

Read the full blog post here.

NY Times - Learning to Deal With the Impostor Syndrome

By: Carl Richards

On paper, your investments in stocks, real estate or even cash may look like your greatest assets. While all those things are superimportant, you have something else that’s even more valuable. It’s the investment called you.
Finding ways to increase your value while doing the things you love may be the most important thing you do. Maybe you pursue more training to qualify for a raise. Maybe you find a way to sell the photography you did as a hobby. Maybe you find a way to turn your freelance writing into full-time work.
They all involve doing something new for you, but when you head down this path, you are probably going to run into this thing, this fear that you’re bumping up against the limits of your ability. Then, the voice inside your head may start saying things like:
■ “Who gave you permission to do that?”
■ “Do you have a license to be an artist?”
■ “Who said you could draw on cardstock with a Sharpie in Park City, Utah, and send those sketches to The New York Times?”
I think you get the idea. It’s at the moment when you’re most vulnerable that all your doubts come crashing in around you. When I first heard that voice in my own head, I didn’t know what to make of it. The fear was paralyzing. Every time I sent a sketch or something else into the world, I worried the world would say, “You’re a fraud.”

Read the full article here.

Student Bursaries from the VMSG - deadline tomorrow!

The Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group awards bursaries for student researchers from the VMSG community. We run two bursary schemes, one to attend conferences at which the awardees are presenting an oral or poster presentation; and one to support students wishing to attend international technical and field workshops.
Bursaries are awarded up to a maximum of £300.

DeadlineBursary Period
1st June1st August - 31st January
1st December1st February - 31st July

The bursary schemes are intended to support students who are active members of the VMSG community. To be eligible for an award, you must be a research student, must have presented (talk or poster) at a VMSG annual meeting, and have not been previously awarded monies from the scheme. [Any qualifying individual may offer separate applications to both the Conference Bursary and Workshop Bursary].

Application details here.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

THE - The postdoc’s dilemma: when to give up on romance and file for divorce?

An unusual, but strangely pertinent, way of viewing the transition from post-doc to permanent post - as a relationship with a power imbalance. The author of this article wondered how people with outside perspective of tricky situations would see the problem, and so reframed it as a women with a partner who just wouldn't commit. After posting it on two online fora, the responses covered the full gamut - from 'what the f***?' to 'do you still love him?'

Everyone knows how tough it is to climb the ladder as an early career researcher.
It was a point that was spelled out again in a recent Times Higher Education article (“Postdoc blues: how do you know when it is time to give up?”), which described the inner conflict that keeps many postdocs trapped in an “endless mental loop” of unfulfilled aspiration.
The conflict exists between their hopes for a future in scientific research on the one hand and the reality of academia on the other. And sooner or later, young researchers have to decide what to do about it.
The established powers within academia keep telling us that something will work out eventually, as long as we do not give up and keep working as hard as possible. But is it realistic to expect brutal honesty from mentors who are themselves part of the system?
Wouldn’t it be better to seek advice from external experts? From people who are familiar with tricky situations in another context, perhaps?
In some ways, the postdoc question has parallels with those in an unhappy relationship. The love-match in question is between young researchers and academia: a great romance blighted by commitment fears and threatened by harsh reality.
So where better to ask for help than in the online forums where the lovelorn go for romantic counsel?

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

In the news - Unthinkable: Is science being skewed by a gender bias?

It has been a sobering time lately for men who are being collectively accused of unconscious gender bias. The representation of women on ballot papers, in theatre programmes and on the airwaves is under scrutiny like never before, and it’s only right that this column join in that process of self-examination.
A count of contributors to the column since it began two years ago shows that only 19 of 79 contributors (24 per cent) were women. A reprehensible total, albeit today at least marks number 20 thanks to Helen de Cruz, assistant professor of philosophy at VU University Amsterdam.
De Cruz, who is addressing the annual conference of the Society for Women in Philosophy Ireland in Dublin at the weekend, points out that biases are “difficult to counteract even if one is aware of them”. In this she references philosopher of science Helen Longino who, through her writings on the way in which knowledge evolves, provides today’s idea: “The greater the number of different points of view included in a community, the more likely its scientific practices will be objective.”

Read the full interview here.

From the Researcher's Network - 1-2-1 career coaching

Interested in having a 1-2-1 coaching session to discuss your research or career goals?

On Tuesday 8 December Dr Sarah Robins-Hobden an independent researcher developer and coach will be available to meet with researchers. We normally offer coaching only to research staff on limited term contracts but since we still have a few spaces left Researchers’ Network members have a special opportunity of access a session this time. Coaching can be really beneficial in helping you gain clarity on your goals, plan a research or career strategy or get a new perspective on issues you are having in your professional life. All session are totally confidential. More information about coaching and our coach Sarah are in the pdf here (UoP only). Send me an email ( if you want to book a session or have further questions.

Early career funding to attend EGU 2016

For those planning to go to EGU next year, time to get your skates on! Anyone who is within 7 years of their last degree (plus parental leave, if appropriate) is eligible to apply for financial support to attend the annual meeting (up to €300). This year, €110k has been set aside, with 80-90% earmarked for early career researchers. But the deadline (abstract submission is the application) is 1 December!

Blog post with background:

Application details on the EGU site:

Friday, 20 November 2015

Call for nominations: PhD thesis prizes - Royal Astronomical Society

For any PhD students whose projects fit within the remit of geophysics:
Each year the RAS recognises the best PhD theses in astronomy and geophysics completed in the UK. The deadline to nominate theses completed during 2015 is 31 January 2016.
Two prizes are available: one for astronomy, and one for geophysics. The winners receive £1000 and an invitation to present the results of their thesis at a meeting of the RAS. The runners up will receive £50 book tokens. The prizes are sponsored by Oxford University Press, who also publish the RAS journals.
Nominees must have completed their PhD (viva held and all corrections completed) at a UK university during 2015. For more details and to submit a nomination, see the pages on each prize:
  • The Michael Penston prize, for theses in astronomy and astrophysics, including cosmology, astrobiology etc.
  • The Keith Runcorn prize, for theses in geophysics, including seismology, solar physics, planetary science etc.
A separate Patricia Tomkins thesis prize for PhDs in instrumentation is also available, but will be the subject of a separate call for nominations.

Application details here.

On the Twittersphere - Benevolently Sexist

One of these days, I will have to have a talk with a colleague, who has an administrative role in a physical science field. His heart is in the right place and he is one of the men who really support women and their advancement in the physical sciences, as evidenced by him propelling his female colleagues and students. However, I think he might have inadvertently gotten lost in the thick forest of benevolent sexism.
There are several things that are sexist about this attitude. First, it assumes that, deep down, all women want to be nurses, and that one has to appeal to a smart woman’s inner nurse in order to bring her — nay, trick her! — into the physical sciences. It also assumes that while men are naturally geeks, women could not possibly be real geeks or like the physical sciences for the same reasons as men, or for any reasons unrelated to their inner nurse.
I don’t know what one has to do to get this through people’s skulls: There are women geeks. Honestly, they exist.  *raises hand to be counted* There are women who like and are very good at math, physics, chemistry, computer science; who play video games; who like science fiction and fantasy.
Women geeks and men geeks do not necessarily look and act as the stereotypes. One can be into math, physics, chemistry, or computers, and at the same time also look perfectly presentable and be perfectly socially adjusted. One can be into math, physics, chemistry, or computers, and also have long hair, boobs, and/or lipstick.

Read the full blog post here.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Student support from the EAG

For our geochemistry students, the EAG offers up to €500 for help towards attendance at geochemistry related short courses, summer schools, workshops or conferences located in Europe (but not Goldschmidt). Students do not need to present any talk or poster at the event. Deadlines are 4 times a year, with the next one being 1 Dec. So what are you waiting for? Head on over to the EAG website, become a student member for only €15/yr, and submit your application!

News from the Researcher's Network

For those early career (post-doc to Senior Lecturer) staff not yet in the Researcher's Network, a couple of useful notices sent round this morning.

First, a reminder that anyone thinking of applying to the NERC July 2016 standard grant round needs to send a 2-page proposal summary to by 4pm Tuesday 19 January 2016 for a place in the pitch to peers selection event. A flyer with more details is available (UoP network only) here.

Second, for those doing outreach, or who want to develop their public speaking skills more broadly (conference talks, anyone?), the British Science Association's Hampshire branch will be holding a session called 'Engaging with Science: using improv techniques to get your message across' in Southampton on the 24th Nov. More details, and sign up, here.

And finally, for those who haven't signed up, be sure to check out the Researcher's Network Google+ page here.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Careers advice for all

Two articles published today drew my attention to different aspects of life as a career woman. The first, called 'When women are missing from peer review,' summarises a new study into the unconscious biases that can affect one of the key forms of academic citizenship. The authors found that, although the number of female reviewers chosen by the journal Functional Ecology was small, it had improved over the period of the study due to the selection of more female editors (even so, they only selected female reviewers ~35% of the time). However, problems remained with the reluctance amongst male reviewers to accept invitations from female editors, and the greater reluctance of late-career male editors to invite female reviewers relative to their younger colleagues (female editors invited more women the further into their careers they were). Progress in the right direction, but more work to be done to address everyone's biases.

The other article, 'Nice girls don't finish last: why empathy isn't a business liability,' reminds us all that courtesy and consideration for others isn't anything to do with gender, but a life skill that strengthens business teams and ultimately garners you genuine respect from your peers. Confidence is not the same thing as being pushy; apologising when you are wrong demonstrates maturity and responsibility. Bending down to meet those who don't abide by such maxims only does you and your company a disservice. To quote the author, 'Staying authentic and maintaining integrity is a lot easier said than done. It takes guts and shows real backbone. In my opinion, this is what commands respect and demonstrates the mark of a great leader.' Something for us all to live by.

Finally, the news that tomorrow is International Men's Day. The University of York found itself in the midst of a Twitterstorm by publishing a press release promoting the day. The initial release appeared to suggest that there were serious imbalances and biases against men, and, in particular, stated that in academic positions, women were more likely to be hired, without any supporting evidence. Since the recent debate, and debunking, of several academic studies which made similar claims, people from the University and beyond cried foul in an open letter, ultimately leading to a retraction and apology by the University. As the correction notice pointed out, men are still much less likely to seek help for some issues, such as mental health, and are underrepresented in some fields, such as nursing. I hope the negative reactions to this event do not stop people of all stripes from tackling bias and inequality, wherever and however it presents itself. See articles here and here.

Guardian Women in Leadership - Parental leave: what to expect on the return to work

By: Paula Parfitt
For new mums – and dads making use of shared paternity laws – returning to work after parental leave can be a daunting experience.Taking this step requires support and understanding from partners, employers and colleagues, as well as pragmatism and courage from the person returning. Re-entering working life is a very different experience for each individual, and many find it understandably challenging. I have two children, but each time I returned to work following maternity leave couldn’t have been more different.
Inevitably, a long period of absence means that the business moves on. What I saw was that people change, priorities shift and team dynamics alter. Re-entering the workplace can often cause angst or confusion among colleagues – understandably, it’s difficult to have to pick up responsibilities from mums-and-dads-to-be, then hand them back once they return from parental leave. All this is incredibly unnerving for the person returning.
Over an extended period of time certain tasks become an integral part of a person’s job role, and it isn’t always a relief to hand them back. So I made it my mission to find out what had happened while I was away and where the main frustrations lay, so I could integrate back into the business and rebuild my team. Never is emotional intelligence as vital as when you are navigating your own complex feelings about work, as well as trying to understand how your return affects those around you.

 Read more here.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

BSRG awards - deadline 20 Nov.

Each year BSRG presents a series of Prizes and Awards at its AGM. These cover the breadth of BSRG activity across all career stages. These awards are:
  • The Perce Allen Award recognises a substantial body of research in any field of sedimentology. Candidates of any age may be nominated for the award;
  • The Roland Goldring Award recognises noteworthy published research in any field of sedimentology. Candidates must be within ten years (full time equivalent) of the commencement of their research career;
  • The Harold Reading Medal is awarded annually for the best publication by a current or recent postgraduate student (normally within 2 years of doctoral award) from a PhD project in the field of sedimentology and stratigraphy. The paper would normally also have been presented as a talk by a postgraduate student at a UK BSRG-sponsored meeting;
  • The BSRG Award for Undergraduate Sedimentology is awarded annually to the best final-year undergraduate sedimentological project at a UK or Irish University;
  • The BSRG Award for Masters Sedimentology is awarded to the best sedimentological project completed by a student on a one-year taught Masters course at a UK or Irish University.
  • The Poster Prize is awarded annually to a postgraduate student, based on their research-in-progress presented at the BSRG AGM. The prize is sponsored by the PESGB.
Nominations received for the Perce Allen and Roland Goldring Awards are put to an online vote by the BSRG membership prior to the AGM each year.
Judging of submissions for the Harold Reading Medal, BSRG Award for Undergraduate Sedimentology, and BSRG Award for Masters Sedimentology and the BSRG Poster Prize, is shared across the BSRG committee. The panels for each of these four awards would normally include the Chair, Secretary or Awards Secretary.

Submission details here.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

GSL Janet Watson Meeting: The Future of Hydrocarbon Exploration - abstracts due 27/11

This two-day meeting aims to bring together early career geoscientists with leading industry and academic experts to discuss and show case recent and potential future innovations in hydrocarbon exploration geoscience. The meeting will provide an excellent forum for networking and an opportunity for graduate students and young professionals to present their research. The conference offers more experienced hydrocarbon exploration geoscientists new research, ideas and concepts plus the chance to add their experience to the panel discussion.

Conference themes

  1. The challenges of career development at $50 - $70 oil: rethinking training, and exploring Chartership.
  2. Adapting established techniques to enhance exploration potential
  3. Building effective links between Industry and Academia: successful joint Industry projects and Academic consortia.
  4. The future exploration tool box: new techniques and software solutions
A panel discussion on the “Future of Hydrocarbon Exploration” will be chaired by Prof. John Underhill (CDT)

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

  • Robert Hall (Royal Holloway)
  • Gary Nichols (Nautilus)
  • Jenny Omma (Rocktype)
  • Bryan Ritchie (BP)
  • Mike Simmons (Halliburton)
  • Zoe Shipton (University of Strathclyde)
  • John Underhill (CDT)
  • Oonagh Werngren (UKOG)

Call for Papers

We welcome oral and poster presentations on the Future of Hydrocarbon Exploration featuring the four themes outlined above.

Oral Abstract Deadline: Friday 27 November 2015
Poster Abstract Deadline: Friday 26 February 2016


  • Dr. Isobel Sides (Neftex-Halliburton) - lead convenor
  • Dr. Mike Cottam (BP)
  • Dr. Caroline Gill (Shell)
  • Dr. Lucy Slater (Actis Oil & Gas Ltd)
  • Dr. Helen Smyth (Neftex-Halliburton)

Taking Control of Your Career as a Female Physicist

Taking Control of Your Career as a Female Physicist    Wednesday 11 November 2015, 10:00 – 16:30

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
Organised by
Vishanti Fox
Requires registration
Contact details
Click here to register for the event:
Further information

Friday, 6 November 2015

Over on Twitter - help needed from those who studied A-level Physics

Jessica Hamer has alerted us to the Institute of Physics (IOP)'s upcoming conference in support of female AS/A level students studying physics. It will be held on the 23rd January 2016, at IOP Head Offices in Portland Place, London. If you can help, head over to either @DrJessicaHamer or @PhysicsNews for contact details.

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Small grants from the Edinburgh Geological Society

For all those with a Scottish link - either birth, residence or fieldwork - the Edinburgh Geological society offers two grants and two awards with monetary prizes. If you fit the bill, be sure to submit/nominate before the upcoming deadlines - or pass on to someone who does!

1. Grants to projects that further the aims of the Society - stimulating public interest in geology and the advancement of geological knowledge. Each application is judged on the excellence of the project, on its relevance to the Society's aims, and on its affordability. Grants that are matched by funding from other research bodies or relevant sources, and funding requests under £500, are more likely to be awarded. Deadlines: 30 April and 31 October

2. The Society makes small grants to support fieldwork from the Clough and Mykura Funds. Grants from these funds, normally of the order of a few hundred pounds, are available to support geological field work at home or abroad provided there is a Scottish link. Applications from PhD students are welcome but we expect that the costs of routine fieldwork will be met by your institution or your grant-awarding body. Therefore you will need to make a clear and compelling case for additional support. The funds do not generally support mapping as part of an Honours degree course. Deadline: 31 January

3. The Society recognises excellence in geology by awarding the Clough Medal and The Clough Memorial Award. The Clough Medal is the Society's premier award, presented annually to a geologist whose original work has materially increased the knowledge of the geology of Scotland and/or the north of England, or who is Scottish by birth or by adoption and residence and has significantly advanced the knowledge of any aspect of geology. The Clough Memorial Award, which is a monetary award, is given to a geologist of British nationality and normally under 35 years old whose research on some aspect of the geology of Scotland or the north of England is considered as having outstanding merit. It is awarded biennially in even years (i.e. 2016). Deadline: 31 January

Submission details here.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Rosalind Franklin Appathon

This national app competition is funded by the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award, won by UCL Professor Rachel McKendry. The Award is in memory of the British biophysicist Rosalind Franklin who pioneered research into DNA, viruses, coal and graphite.

Our competition has two challenges:
Challenge 1: To develop new mobile phone apps to empower women in STEMM. The competition is open to both women and men. Whether you’re a complete novice with a good idea, a wannabe coder or a seasoned app developer, we want to hear from you!

Challenge 2: To recognise leading women in STEMM who have pioneered new apps for research and societal good. Help us identify and support the female role models who are making a difference by submitting a 200 word nomination statement.

Deadline for submissions: 4th January 2016
Short-listed entries: Contacted by 20th January 2016
Mentoring events for Challenge 1: w/c 1st February 2016
Pitch and Prize Awards Ceremony: Tues 23rd February 2016

Judges: Baroness Martha Lane Fox, Andrew Eland (Google), Professor Dame Athene Donald (Cambridge), Dr Alastair Moore (UCL Enterprise) and Professor Rachel McKendry (UCL).
Organising committee: Kailey Nolan (UCL), Ruth Davies (UCL Enterprise), Alastair Moore (UCL Enterprise), Harriet Jones (Athena Swan, UCL) and Rachel McKendry (UCL).

Read more and submit your entry here!

Naturejobs Feature - Networking: Hello, stranger

Excellent advice for all conference attendees from the Nature Jobs site, whether planning for their first or hundred and first:

Conferences can be a professional boon to early-career scientists, offering countless opportunities to meet mentors and collaborators as well as to impress potential employers. But there is also ample opportunity to trample those very chances. Bad behaviour, whether in or outside a session, can harm a junior researcher's reputation and jeopardize his or her job prospects for years to come.
Although neophyte conference attendees may plan out the talks that they want to hear, rarely do they seek advice about the many unspoken rules of proper conference etiquette. Instead, learning often happens by trial and error. “You kind of muck your way through it,” says Jacquelyn Gill, a palaeoecologist at the University of Maine in Orono. “You figure out the cultural norm from watching other people.”

Ultimately, conference attendance is like being in an interactive stage performance, veteran conference-goers say — and every audience member is part of the act. People notice and remember what others do. “Conferences are wonderful opportunities for students and early-career researchers to learn skills, get feedback and find collaborators,” says Shiffman. But, he adds, “your behaviour at conferences affects your reputation in your field”.

Read more here.

Researcher's Network: How to publish in a Nature Publishing Group journal – FREE Webinar

Nature Publishing Group would like to invite you to a very special webinar, hosted by Nature Plants Chief Editor Chris Surridge. This is a webinar open for students and researchers who would like to know more about how to get published in a prestigious and high-quality journal.

• How to get published in a Nature Publishing Group journal
• Article selection and working with authors
• Aims and scope of Nature Plants
• Opportunity to ask questions to the Chief Editor of Nature Plants 

Register here.