• Question: was it and is it hard to work in a male dominated field

    Asked by anon-316920 on 1 Apr 2022.
    • Photo: Veselina Georgieva

      Veselina Georgieva answered on 10 Mar 2022:

      Well, I don’t think is hard in a male-dominated field. My personal view is that is not important the gender, if you work hard, you are confident and you are able to communicate with many people you are going to succeed.

    • Photo: Richa Sharma

      Richa Sharma answered on 10 Mar 2022:

      I have not faced discrimination in my field. In fact, I have always been supported and respected by my male colleagues. But, I a aware of other people who faced bias, and strongly believe the equality is important.

    • Photo: Fiona Fotherby

      Fiona Fotherby answered on 10 Mar 2022:

      It can be challenging, although scientist are smart they should know better than to be irrational and treat people different. I don’t think the sexism is overt, it may be the way one person treats/ jokes with you, the tasks you are assigned, or systematic like lower pay.
      It can feel so frustrating – I think this is more so the case in Computer Science than chemistry industry, at least from what I hear from my friends about the work culture.
      I’m lucky I went to a women’s college (uni) to build my confidence and study where I felt prioritised. I’m thankful for women who paved the way because about 100 years ago women couldn’t even go to my current uni. It must have been so frustrating for the first women – or was it exciting!? The best thing you can do is support other woman and believe in your own dreams! You owe it to yourself and the world! Thanks for your question.

    • Photo: Graeme Barker

      Graeme Barker answered on 11 Mar 2022:

      I’ll preface this answer by pointing out that I’m not a woman, and you should absolutely pay more attention to the others responding to your question – I’m only answering as I do some research alongside social scientists into diversity and inclusion in chemistry.

      I think it’s true to say that the situation was pretty bad in the past – STEM was heavily male-dominated, and could be hard for women, particularly those trying to start a family in a time period where they would be expected to handle most of the childcare. The situation is becoming a lot better though, and there is greatly increased awareness of structural inequality and discrimination. When I was a student, more than three quarters of my graduating class (in 2007) were women, and around half of our current PhD students are women. As young, female chemists progress through their careers, I expect the gender balance in more senior roles to slowly equalise as well. There are also numerous schemes set up to speed up the implementation of equality in chemistry as well, for example by funding summer lab placements by female students, fellowship schemes to support women and ethnic minority academics, and others to support researchers returning to science after a career break (most often to start a family). Some of the major research funders will also only give money to universities who show evidence that they are taking active steps to address inequalities as well.

    • Photo: Sophie Strickfuss

      Sophie Strickfuss answered on 11 Mar 2022:

      My personal view is that, yes, it can be hard, but it really depends on the people you work with and the culture of the company. Throughout my career I have often found myself the only woman in a team or a meeting, and my experience of this has ranged from being completely fine, to feeling very uncomfortable and facing sexism. My personal experience is that as STEM workplaces are becoming more aware of bias, they are becoming more diverse and more inclusive, with regards to gender but also age, cultural background… It will take time to eliminate bias, including gender inequality, and I believe STEM industries are already making a lot of progress.

    • Photo: Mark Ridgill

      Mark Ridgill answered on 11 Mar 2022:

      Thankfully things are changing 30 years ago the management was essentially male but now my company is 54% female and we have a female worldwide head of chemistry.

    • Photo: Stephen Doughty

      Stephen Doughty answered on 14 Mar 2022:

      I really hope that is getting better (but I say that as male … maybe obviously). I ran a University campus where I made sure that my senior management team was more than 50% female. I feel that most departments that I’ve worked in are very keen to support female scientists and I know that I currently work on inclusivity and diversity (as part of an active group) in the department that I currently work in.
      But you should listen to the female voices and answers to your great question.

    • Photo: Andrew Parrott

      Andrew Parrott answered on 16 Mar 2022:

      Great question – I feel it’s improving (but then again I am speaking as a male!) but a lot more could be done! When I started as an undergraduate I can’t remember there being more than maybe 1 female professor in the department. Where I work now there is a more balanced mix of male and female professors. But generally higher up positions at unis are still very dominate by men (and this is not limited to just science subjects), and it is similar in industry (recent reports on gender pay gap reveal this). A recent report by RSC highlights we have a LONG way to go for diversity related issues (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-60708712).

    • Photo: Ioanna Maria Pateli

      Ioanna Maria Pateli answered on 21 Mar 2022:

      Not really. Things have changed quite a lot in academia regarding gender equality. Most universities also support women in the field and all other minorities to be honest which is great and a huge improvement from the past. I have always filled welcomed, supported and actually equal in my groups.

    • Photo: Mahoulo Ahouansou

      Mahoulo Ahouansou answered on 21 Mar 2022:

      Yes it can be difficult. However, things are changing for the better so it will only get easier for the next generation of female scientists regardless of the field.