International Women in Science Conference

Abstracts

Jan Peters

SET Fair and Beyond: an examination of the impact and challenges of UK policy for women in SET

Attracting and retaining women in science, engineering and technology is a complex task with no 'magic formula'. Decades of effort have produced minimal results, although effecting a workplace transformation is not necessarily a single generational target. The UK took the stance in 1999 that no single effort would solve the skills shortage and that an integrated strategic effort was required, mobilising all sectors of the science and engineering community. One of the biggest challenges was engaging the science community with the equality and diversity or mainstreaming community and encouraging organisations to move on from simply producing posters and booklets to encourage more girls to do science.

This presentation will briefly review the motivations for the UK SET Fair report, presented by the Baroness Greenfield to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in 2002. The UK policy agenda for women in science was lit in 1993 with a simple statement in a government White Paper. This presentation will examine the progress and the initiatives that appear to have had most impact in the intervening 14 years, including outsourcing the SET for Women unit. The challenges and benefits that are faced by outsourcing such an important policy role will be explored. In particular, the task of balancing a paid, professional equalities workforce, a motivated volunteer community and an established research and business sector facing daily pressures.

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