WITS ACTION MANIFESTO
Women in Technology and Science (WITS) would like to introduce their four-part action manifesto*. These actions are vital to improving gender balance in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM), and encouraging women to consider STEM careers.
(1) Advance women’s leadership and participation in decision making – local and national
by supporting women in STEM careers to stay in industry and academia, and to progress to managerial and executive level. Women also need to be supported in research through gender fair review and evaluation processes. One mechanism that WITS suggests to achieve this is through women-only initiatives, such as the L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Fellowships.
(2) End the gender pay gap and deliver equal opportunities for women
by ensuring that women have access to STEM education at all levels, which will help women out of poverty by pursuing STEM careers. Support of active strategies to recruit women into STEM is also needed. Female-led startups and companies need to be supported, and initiatives need to be introduced to encourage women to develop their own enterprises in the STEM sector. Actions to encourage women to stay in STEM and show them the breadth of opportunities available in these careers are important. The gender pay gap should be addressed by ensuring transparency of contracts at all levels in STEM, especially at the corporate level where the pay gap is largest.
(3) Promote family friendly STEM workplaces
by taking into account the impact of maternity leave, childcare, and elderly parent care for women in STEM careers. A maternity allowance for research grants and academic positions should be introduced by all institutions and grant bodies in Ireland. The culture of STEM across the board, both in industry and academia, needs to change to include family friendly policies. Policies need to be implemented to encourage women back to work after maternity leave and child rearing, and help manage work-life balance to make this transition easier. WITS supports shared parental leave, the sharing of maternity leave between both parents. Policies are needed so that researchers can have flexible working hours to fit in the care they may need to give to dependents, such as elderly parents or a disabled spouse.
(4) Strengthen social protection, training and employment supports
by supporting and encouraging mentoring projects such as REENTER and MinT, which are essential for women in STEM. Female-led enterprises have increased to 22% in 2015 but this is still low and more needs to be done to improve this area, especially in the STEM sector. Family friendly policies in STEM are needed to retain women. Support including networking, and events, is needed for women completing PhDs and postdocs in male-dominated STEM areas. More programmes such as the SFI Advanced Award Programme are vital to support women after career breaks. More training days and events, such as those offered by WITS, are vital for women in STEM to reach their full potential.
*Inspired by the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) Election Manifesto.
POLICY RESPONSES AND INITIATIVES
CEDAW is the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Each UN member has to report on progress and Ireland is ten years late with its report. The draft state response to a list of issues was circulated and WITS was invited to attend the civil society consultation on 19 July 2016. At the event, WITS spoke on stereotyping, the role of unconscious bias, education leadership at all levels and the gender differences. It was a very interesting consultation.
STEM Yfactor Survey
WITS is supporting this international Yfactor survey, and encouraged its members to take the survey through its newsletter in July 2016. Look at the 2015 report and the call for action focused on key actions to enable women to step up in STEM.
Irish Software Association (ISA) and Gender Imbalance in Tech
The ISA is very concerned about the gender imbalance in tech. As part of the Tech Manifesto, it has set a target of Ireland being a world leader in addressing the gender imbalance. They have set up a working group Tackling the Gender Imbalance in the Tech sector and Mary Carroll WITS Vice-Chair has been invited to the meetings. The group is working with SFI and women in STEM groups such as WITS.
NWCI Strategic Plan
WITS was invited to, and attended a meeting on 12 April 2016 to help devise the National Women’s Council of Ireland Strategic Plan 2016-2020. WITS is a member of the NWCI and ensured that Women in STEM was on the agenda.
HEA Review of Gender-Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions
Women in Technology and Science (WITS) has identified four actions that are vital to improving gender balance in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) higher education. These actions are based on the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) Feminist Manifesto. HEA Gender Review WITS Opinion Paper March 2016
Consultation Paper for Successor to Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation
The HEA announced plan for a successor strategy to the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006-2013 on 17 February 2015. The consultation paper was available and responses invited by 23 March 2015. WITS reviewed the consultation paper and responded by the due date. WITS was disappointed by the paper and calls on the Interdepartmental Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation to revise the consultation paper and to set out systemic actions to enable open access to science, technology and innovation for all.Gender equality in publicly funded research can be enhanced by adequate reporting of data in terms of gender, by requiring female participation along the lines of that required for state boards and by identifying the pervasive unconscious bias about science, technology and innovation. SSTI Consultation paper WITS response March 2015