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Home Article New ECU research shows women in STEMM academia are underrepresented in senior posts

New ECU research shows women in STEMM academia are underrepresented in senior posts

Today Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) publishes research on experiences of gender equality focused specifically on biosciences and medicine, engineering, and physical sciences.

In all three disciplines, women experience consistent disadvantages across multiple aspects of their working lives, while black and minority ethnic (BME) men in physical sciences had less leadership and management training.

Key findings include:

  • Across all three disciplines women were underrepresented in senior positions and overrepresented in early-career posts.
  • Men were more likely to have gained their current position via formal promotion across all three disciplines. The largest gender gap reported was in engineering where 7.5% of women compared with 15.6% of men had gained their current position via formal promotion.
  • Men were also more likely to say that they had been invited or encouraged to apply for promotion:
    • Biosciences and medicine: 47.1% of women compared with 58.9% of men
    • Physical sciences: 48.3% of women compared with 60.2% of men
    • Engineering: 55.1% of women compared with 60.0% of men

These disadvantages are compounded when gender intersects with other protected characteristics:

  • BME women in biosciences and medicine experienced a similar degree of compounded disadvantage as reported in the full ASSET 2016 report published by ECU in April 2017.
  • Across all three disciplines, female academics who disclosed as disabled were particularly negative in their ratings of how having a disability had impacted their career progression. They were similarly negative about their intentions for their future careers: for example, 7.4% of female engineers reported that they did not want to continue their career in STEMM ((science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) compared with 1.4% of female engineers who had not disclosed as disabled.

The experiences of BME men in the physical sciences contrasted with findings from engineering and, biosciences and medicine. In the physical sciences:

  • Proportionally fewer BME men had training experience in administrative tasks related to management, postgraduate supervision, leadership, grant application skills, project planning and financial management compared with white men.
  • 8% of BME men said that they would like to continue working in STEMM but outside of higher education, compared with only 4.0% of white men.

Responding to the findings of the report, Sarah Dickinson Hyams, ECU’s Head of Equality Charters, said:

‘These findings reinforce the importance of ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter and Race Equality Charter as mechanisms for positive gradual change towards greater gender and racial equality in UK higher education.’

Full details

ECU (2017) ASSET 2016: experiences surrounding gender equality in biosciences and medicine, and the intersections with ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and age.

ECU (2017) ASSET 2016: experiences surrounding gender equality in engineering, and the intersections with ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and age.

ECU (2017) ASSET 2016: experiences surrounding gender equality in physical sciences, and the intersections with ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and age.

ECU (2017) ASSET 2016: experiences surrounding gender equality in STEMM academia and the intersections with ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and age.

Published date: October 26, 2017