by Professor Carron Shankland, University of Stirling
21 February 2017
We know that women are not well represented in our discipline. The 2016 Women in IT scorecard shows that while all girls get Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at an early age in school, the number of women drops throughout education to 36% at GCSE level, 26% at GCE level, and just 17% at degree level. This 17% is maintained in industrial jobs, although there is wide variation within different specialisms. In academia we find a similar leaky pipeline: from 17% graduating at first degree level, we rise to 25% at postgraduate level, 22% at lecturer/senior lecturer level, and 12.5% at professorial level (HESA 2013/14 figures).
Clearly there’s a problem getting women into the subject in the first place, but why do many women, having trained in computing, not continue their career? EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) are particularly interested in why research careers are not pursued by women, and other under-represented groups, in Computing/ICT (Information and Communication Technologies). If we assume women are equally able to do computing research (and why wouldn’t we?) then the implication is that there are barriers faced by under-represented groups. In which case, what are those barriers and how can we break them down? It seems clear that for the health of our discipline we need to get better at retaining talented people.
These are among the questions being considered in a diversity and inclusion study commissioned by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/newsevents/news/ictdiversityinclusionresearch/
The review is investigating what the barriers are, how they manifest themselves and what can be done to support underrepresented groups in ICT. Some issues may cut across minority groups, whether those groups are identified by gender, race, sexuality, age, disability, religion, pregnancy and maternity, or married or partnership status. Therefore the study starts with an an inclusive online survey across the whole ICT research community.
We need to hear from everyone to get a full picture of our research environment (postgrad students to professors, and not only representatives of minority groups). We’re also interested to hear the experiences of those who have left academia: if you are still in touch with ex-colleagues please forward the survey to them.
Take the survey today – right now: https://www.research.net/r/diversityICT
The survey will be open until 28 February and takes around 15 minutes to complete. Questions are around career aspirations and the support you get to pursue your career, your day-to-day environment, the effect of your life on your career, and so on.
Remember, we want to hear from everyone in this survey