A new network has been formed by TEU members at the University of Otago to promote female scientists and address equity issues for women working in the sciences.
The new Women in Science Network was established last week at a TEU meeting featuring a presentation by Nicola Gaston, Associate Professor at the University of Auckland, whose book Why science is sexist warns of the damaging consequences of unconscious biases against female scientists.
Gaston’s presentation looked at everything from the under-representation of women in science to the argument that mental capabilities are gendered.
A lack of opportunity and appropriate career structure were part of reason there are fewer female scientists, Gaston argued.
Gaston also pointed to a culture where young women are afraid to speak out about discrimination for fear of what it might do to their careers.
The discrimination female scientists experience can be explained by unconscious biases and hidden hurdles women have to confront that are rarely faced by men.
Drawing attention to some of these biases in order that they can be addressed is one of the aims of the Women in Science Network, which plans to meet to discuss how the lessons from Gaston’s presentation apply to the University of Otago.
The network will then look at the most effective way to address these issues in the tertiary sector, including working with TEU members to develop similar networks at other institutions.
Kris Smith, one of the TEU organisers at the University of Otago, welcomed the new network, saying
“it provided a valuable opportunity to explore the reasons why there aren’t more female scientists especially at the senior levels and to look at how we work as a union to remove the barriers between women and a career in science.”