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Physics department recognised for reducing gender inequality

Posted on 21/05/2010
The Department of Physics at Royal Holloway, University of London has been recognised by the Institute of Physics (IOP) for efforts made to reduce gender inequality among academic staff.

The IOP’s Juno Code of Practice seeks to redress a long-sustained issue of under-representation of women at the very highest level of physics academia in the UK and Ireland.

Following in the footsteps of Imperial College and University of Warwick – the inaugural Juno Champions – Royal Holloway and the Universities of Glasgow and York have now been awarded the status of Juno Practitioner, which is a large step towards becoming fully-fledged Champions.

While approximately 20% of England’s physics undergraduates and lecturers are female, the same can only be said of 5% of professors. This shows that not only is the proportion of female undergraduates still disappointingly low, but also that it gets worse as academics move further up the university ladder.

The Juno Practitioner level was designed to reward progress made by departments towards ensuring equal opportunity to all – to be seen as a staging post towards becoming a Juno Champion.

Jennifer Dyer, Diversity Programme Leader at IOP, said: “We are delighted to recognise and reward physics departments on their journeys towards becoming Champions. Embedding the Juno principles across the department will have a positive impact on the working lives of all staff. Examples of change in working practice that have been proven to reduce gender inequality, like increasing the transparency of procedures involved in promotion, are the sort of things that departments must do to gain recognition. All the departments involved have found that frank and open discussions about gender issues in the workplace have led to a happier workforce.”

Professor John Saunders, Head of Physics at Royal Holloway, University of London, said: “We are delighted to receive the Juno Practitioner Award. Applying for Juno Practitioner has promoted discussion of gender and other equality issues at a variety of events within the Department of Physics at Royal Holloway. The award recognises that the Physics Department has been developing and demonstrates our equitable working culture in which students and staff, men and women, can realise their full potential. We look forward to achieving Juno Champion status in the future.”


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