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Royal Holloway trail blazes for women in physics

Posted on 07/10/2011

The Department of Physics at the award ceremony

Royal Holloway, University of London has been officially recognised by the Institute of Physics (IOP) for efforts made to ensure gender equality among staff and students in the Department of Physics.

The Department has been awarded the status of Juno Champion after meeting the five principles set out in the Juno Code of Practice, a set of actions recommended by IOP to address the under-representation of women in physics higher education. Last night (6 October) Royal Holloway, together with the Universities of Glasgow and York, joined the Universities of Cambridge, Imperial and Warwick to become one of only six UK Physics departments to be accredited.

Dr Tracey Berry, the Department’s Juno lead, was presented with the Juno Champion certificate at last night's IOP Awards Ceremony.

The 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. While approximately 20% of physics undergraduates and lecturers are female; the same can only be said of 5% of professors.

James McNish, Diversity Programme Leader at IOP, said: “To effectively tackle the barriers to the progression of female physicists in academia, a department must undergo fundamental cultural changes.

“For this, a department needs to examine all aspects of how it operates to identify how to make changes in policies and practices for the benefit of all staff and students.

“This is a challenging process, but our new Juno Champion has shown how much can be achieved – Royal Holloway’s approach to tackling the issues will act as a beacon of good practice for others in the physics community.”

In particular, the Department has established effective engagement and communication mechanisms which have enabled the whole Department to be involved and contribute to the Juno process.

Professor John Saunders, former Head of Department, said: “At Royal Holloway we are enthusiasts for the IOP’s Juno project; it is necessary and will have real impact.

“Our Juno journey has had a transformative influence on our own Department, to the benefit of all, promoting a stronger sense of inclusivity and engagement of all groups. We believe the evolving framework will help attract the very best women scientists, and support them in reaching their full potential."


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