Female scientists underrepresented at senior roles in the UK

Female scientistA new report has put figures to the already known problem of the “leaky pipeline” in the British science. Although female and male scientists are almost equals in the overall scientific workforce, women are highly underrepresented at the most senior roles.

The report, titled “A picture of the UK scientific workforce“, describes a “glass ceiling” situation, where female scientists are constrained at lower managerial and professional roles. Women have only a fourth (25,4 per cent) of the higher managerial jobs in the UK science sphere -excluding health jobs-. 

A similar situation was found at the scientific workforce that also included health professionals. Women in this group only represented the 33,1 per cent of the highest roles, according to this document, published by the Royal Society this month, and funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Female scientists also struggle for longer than men to start their professional career after finishing their studies, and find more difficult to remain in science throughout their lives, highlights the report. This affects to the number of breaks they take: women working in science enjoy fewer and shorter career breaks than the rest of women, mainly due to a birth of a child. The report also looks at the ethnicity, disabilities and age disparities at each field of science and stage of the scientific career.

“The focus needs to move away from generalities of getting more women into science but looking at the data and seeing at what levels and particular disciplines/sector they are underrepresented,” explains to DatAddicts Polly Williams, Acting Head of Scientific Engagement at The Royal Society, who has taken part in the elaboration of this report.

The findings will feed into recommendations for the development of work programmes to increase the diversity of the scientific workforce, she adds.

Click here to open this chart:

Infographic: UK Scientific workforce by gender



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