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06 Nov | Gender Equality | Women in Science

breaking the barriers

The Royal Society of Chemistry publishes its new report on the barriers facing women in the chemical sciences. These barriers disproportionately affect women’s retention and progression, but affect everyone working in academic chemistry.

The Royal Society of Chemistry recently carried out a major survey, including interviews and focus groups, to gather data from across the chemical science community. Their findings have recently been published in Breaking the Barriers: Women's retention and progression in the chemical sciences. Addressing these barriers will have a positive impact on the entire chemical sciences community. 

Talented women, interested in an academic career, are leaving the sector before reaching their full potential. Many excellent female scientists who stay in academia are not progressing to senior grades in the same proportion as their male peers

In his foreword, Robert Parker, Chief Executive of the RSC, expresses his concerns, "Talented, hard-working people should not be made to feel that they cannot progress in their field. There is no acceptable reason to stop someone achieving their potential. Yet it is evident from our research in the community that barriers exist when it comes to progression and retention in the chemistry profession. Our recent report, Diversity Landscape of the Chemical Sciences, highlighted
that while this is the unfortunate truth for more than one group, it is a particular challenge for women working in academia.

"Gender balance is not a target in and of itself but an outcome of an equitable system. As our survey respondents say, the academic system should be focused on retaining the best talent, 'regardless of gender or any other protected characteristic.I am encouraged by the strength of feeling in the community on this issue, demonstrated by the level of engagement and number of in-depth answers we received in response to this study. The reports, evidence, ideas and recommendations you shared with us capture different perspectives and a wide range of circumstances, but all have the same underlying message.

"There is plenty of evidence, and not enough action. We must acknowledge and applaud the progress made so far. But there is so much more that must be done to break the barriers down for good – and to make a genuine difference, we must all act now.

"We are ready to take the lead on driving this change – and indeed, we are already putting our plans into action. But we cannot make the impact required alone. Bringing down the barriers will require everyone to work together.
We can all do something to ensure that every person in the chemical science community has the same opportunity to use their talent and make a difference for the benefit of all.

"Let’s make sure that chemistry really is for everyone".