Women in Science
According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, fewer than 20 percent of all UK staff who hold the title of professor are women, though women make up nearly 45 percent of the sector's academic staff. Women in non-academic roles constitute the majority, but few occupy the most senior roles, and the high loss rate of women in science has become an urgent concern.
Medical schools in the UK now have a majority of women undergraduates and at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) 71 percent of our junior researchers are women. However, this is not reflected in the leadership of our organisation. The obstacles in achieving gender balance lie in both personal and institutional culture and attitudes and these need to be recognised to facilitate women career progression and recognition.
An important push for change has come from the Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, who in 2011 announced that the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) would only expect to shortlist medical schools for Biomedical Research Centre and Unit funding if the school holds a Silver Athena SWAN award. The Athena SWAN Charter sets up a framework to recognise commitment to advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education. The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience was awarded a Silver Athena SWAN award in May 2015.
We strongly believe in the benefit that gender balance can bring to science and society as a whole and is fully committed to promote and implement initiatives and practices that ensure senior women are recognised, while junior researchers are encouraged, mentored and trained to transition into more senior, leadership roles.
The Race Equality Charter is a national framework developed by the Equality Challenge Unit which aims to improve the representation, progression and success of BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) staff and students in higher education. Out of a total of 30 institutions that started the process, only 21 completed it and King's was one of only eight who received the Bronze Award.
The IoPPN's ongoing equality programmes and initiatives demonstrate its continuing to work to improve equality.
Stephani Hatch is Race Champion for Diversity and Inclusion at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.