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Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges


ASSET 2016

National survey examining STEMM academics' experiences of gender equality

The Athena Survey of Science, Engineering and Technology (ASSET) is a national survey that seeks to examine academics’ experiences, expectations and perceptions of gender equality in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) disciplines and in their HE institution.

ECU’s annual statistical reports consistently show an underrepresentation of women among STEMM academics, particularly in disciplines such as engineering and physics departments. Moreover, gender differences in relation to recruitment, retention, promotion, pay and committee representation outcomes are commonly observed in the sector.

In order to understand and measure progress toward gender equality, ASSET 2016 will explore STEMM academics’ experiences, perceptions and expectations of working life, and examine whether these differ by gender and discipline. These results will enable us to better identify where gender inequality may persist, and provide figures on which to base national benchmarks for the HE sector.

The Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, Society of Biology and the Academy of Medical Science are jointly funding ECU to redevelop and manage ASSET 2016.

What the survey covers

The survey has run three times before, in 2003/4, 2006 and 2010. While building on previous versions of the survey, ASSET 2016 will adopt a revised questionnaire and a new sampling strategy in order to enhance our understanding of the state of gender equality in STEMM.

The survey is split across seven sections, each of which contain questions that measure attitudes toward and experiences of gender equality in a certain aspect of working life. These are:

  • General perceptions of gender inequality
  • Experiences of current post
  • Research and research outputs
  • Caring responsibilities, career breaks and leave
  • Recruitment and retention
  • Promotion and development
  • Training and leadership

Participants

A sample of higher education institutions (HEIs) have been selected to take part in the national survey. This means that unlike in previous years, only academics working in the selected HEIs will be eligible to participate in ASSET 2016.

We will be approaching additional institutions to take part in the second wave of data collection in the coming weeks. If your institution has already received an invitation to take part in ASSET 2016, but has not yet confirmed your participation, please do so now by emailing Dr Amanda Aldercotte, Researcher and ASSET 2016 lead.

A cluster sampling approach has been taken to ensure that the selected HEIs appropriately capture the diversity of the sector.

This approach will:

  • Allow for more detailed analysis
  • Enable sector wide inferences about the STEMM academic population to be made, for example identify whether differences between male and female respondents are statistically significant
  • Minimise survey fatigue of HE academic staff, a commonly surveyed group
  • Ensure sufficient resource is available to effectively execute the survey

More information on the sampling strategy can be downloaded on the right.

Lessons from the survey

Because its survey sample will be representative, results from ASSET 2016 will provide a national picture of the state of gender equality that can inform the work of all institutions.

Once ASSET 2016 closes, we will make the full questionnaire available so that HEIs who have not been selected for this year’s collection may gather and compare their own data against the national results.

A full report of national results will be published in early 2017. Participating institutions will be able to obtain institutional summary reports shortly afterwards.

Further information

If you have any more questions about ASSET 2016, please contact Dr Amanda Aldercotte, or @ECUAmandaA on Twitter.

ASSET 2016 is now closed.