The research findings will be formally launched at an event at our London headquarters later today. The report identifies three key barriers to women’s progression in the chemical sciences:
- A poor management culture, including unequal workloads, a lack of recognition opportunities, and bullying and harassment
- The way research posts are funded creates uncertainty and unnecessary pressure
- Practical barriers, such as a lack of opportunities for part-time and flexible working.
Our report’s conclusions call for academic funders and employers to create a better balance between short and long-term funding structures, improve working cultures and management, share data and best practice, and enforce a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment.
Meanwhile, 74% of respondents said that similar problems exist in industry, with 93% of respondents saying it is up to the chemical science community itself to tackle the issues of attrition and progression.
Dr Helen Pain, our Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Talented, hard-working people should not be made to feel that they cannot progress in their field. Yet it is clear from our research in the community that barriers exist when it comes to progression and retention in the chemistry profession, most acutely in academia.
“As the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists, we are using our position, influence and connections to take the lead, push for accountability and develop best practice.”
As well as these two initiatives, our five-point plan includes launching annual recognition for chemistry departments that demonstrate significant progress in inclusion and diversity, improving the exchange of best practice between peers, including those in industry, and launching a gender equality forum to accelerate culture change.
Professor Dame Carol Robinson, our president and the first female professor of chemistry at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, said: “The culture within academia and industry can be problematic for women but there is also an impact on work/life balance for men and we should not overlook this.
“It is essential that every part of our community works together to make sure chemistry really is for everyone.”
This latest publication follows our 2018 report Diversity Landscape of the Chemical Sciences, which showed that only 9% of chemistry professors in the UK are women. The figure highlights that, between undergraduate study and senior positions in academia, female representation drops by 35 percentage points. That report also found that, at the current rate of progress, there will never be gender parity in the chemistry academic community.
Read our full Breaking the barriers report online and download a digital pack of resources to share the findings