Queen’s University Belfast gets £500,000 to boost gender diversity in STEM

29 Aug 2018

Queen’s University Belfast. Image: Nahlik/Shutterstock

Queen’s University Belfast has secured £500,000 to boost the number of women participating in STEM, finding what creates barriers.

As part of an ongoing effort to significantly increase the number of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) has secured £500,000 in funding.

In the UK alone, only 10pc of the population’s engineers are women – the lowest in Europe – while the number of women studying engineering and physics has remained almost static for the past six years.

Now, the university’s academics aim to address this challenge by carrying out interdisciplinary research to understand and address the attitudes among academics.

Getting to know academics

The organisers want to hear from academics who work in engineering and physical sciences, and their attitudes towards gender equality initiatives.

They hope to gain an insight into the potential barriers to gender equality initiatives and build training tools aimed at improving their reception.

To do so, the university will partner with the University of Glasgow and the University of Warwick on the project entitled ‘Inclusion Really Does Matter: Improving reactions to gender equality initiatives amongst academics in engineering and physical sciences’.

It is one of 11 projects launched by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council at universities across the UK to improve equality, diversity and inclusion within engineering and the physical sciences.

“Although gender equality initiatives exist in engineering and physical sciences schools across the UK, there may be ways that they could be more effective,” said programme director Dr Ioana Latu from the School of Psychology at QUB.

“Our vision is that in order to improve diversity and inclusion within engineering and physical sciences rapidly, we need to understand academics’ attitudes towards gender equality initiatives.”

She continued: “We hope that by addressing how gender equality initiatives are received on the ground, it will have long-term effects by accelerating diversity and culture change within engineering and physical sciences, ultimately creating a more inclusive environment for women who study and work in STEM fields.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic