The UK has one of Europe’s toughest ‘glass ceilings’ that female scientists have to break to reach top positions, according to calculations by an EU report.
A report which places the UK below 20 other European countries including Portugal, Bulgaria and France for the relative chance women have compared to men in reaching a top position in science, went through the European Parliament today.
The report addressed a number of social, cultural and other kinds of barriers that account for the under-representation of women in science. These included judging scientific capability on the ‘bulk’ of research rather than the quality, which discriminates against women who have taken career breaks and work part time. And removing age limits for the awarding of grants, which prejudice women who have children early on in their career.
These recommendations will now have to be addressed by all Governments across Europe, including the UK, ahead of the recruitment of an additional 700 000 additional European scientific researchers by 2010.
The UK and Europe’s scientific communities are missing out big-time by failing to retain and promote women. We are losing out on countless research ideas and methods as well as drastically reducing the size of the talent pool of scientific personnel.
Today’s report should be a wake up call to all European Governments to act now to stop the dreadful drip, drip of female talent out of one the world’s most important industries.
The latest Women and Science statistics publication “She figures 2006” (PDF 1 MB)
Motion for a European Parliament resolution on women and science