Call for positive targets for women in science

Call for positive targets for women in science

The civil service, both nationally and in the devolved administrations, is failing to promote equality within science and engineering and to ensure equal treatment of its employees, Prospect’s sector conference in June agreed.

Delegates backed a motion from Scottish Government branch instructing the executive to call for a review of historical recruitment data across the civil service. It should review  the impacts of setting targets for women, with a focus on developing methods to apply these targets to women in science and engineering across the service.

Sarah Hughes said the civil service had come a long way and its achievements should be celebrated. But this was not the case for scientists and engineers, where very few had made it into the upper grades.

“Evidence from other areas shows that targets do work,” she said.

Gordon Hutchinson, for the executive, asked delegates to oppose the motion. Although he agreed in principle, he said there were wider things the union could do.

But Lucy Hibbitt (Ministry of Defence) pointed out that there was a clear gap in civil service pay that needed to be rectified.

Sarah Hughes said targets and aspirations were nothing to be afraid of. She highlighted York University, where one professor improved the situation of women in science by setting targets.

Helen Snaith (Natural Environment Research Council), also supporting the motion, said organisations would lose people unless they took positive action.

 “We have to do something positive – if not, nothing will happen,” she said.