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Key UK gender and science organisation loses funding

Key UK gender and science organisation loses funding

The UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology is to lose its funding from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills from April 2011. This is part of the latest round of spending cuts being carried out by the UK’s Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition government.

Since it was established in 2004, the UKRC has been the UK Government’s lead organisation for the provision of advice, services and policy consultation regarding the under-representation of women in science, engineering, technology and the built environment (SET). The UKRC worked across businesses, universities, government and the third sector. They have funded a huge range of initiatives including Geek Girls (networking for women working in IT) and the Women of Outstanding Achievement Photographic Exhibition. Like GEA they support practice informed by research evidence.

Responding to the announcement, Annette Williams, director of the UKRC said “the loss of central funding will reduce capacity and expertise for this agenda and will result in reinvention and damage progress. We aim to work closely with the Government and partners in the sector to highlight why and where investment is still needed.”

Like Annette, I feel that this move by the government is short-sighted and through it we will lose much of our expertise in this area. It takes a long time to rebuild this sort of expertise once it is gone. This is another example of how destructive these cuts are.

(Heather Mendick, Goldsmiths, University of London)

 

One Response to “Key UK gender and science organisation loses funding”

  1. Heather says:

    I just wrote to my Member of Parliament about this cut using the site http://www.writetothem.com. This is what I wrote:

    I’m writing to you about one of the many damaging cuts to public spending made by the coalition government: to the UKRC (the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET). As an academic who researches on issues of STEM and gender equity I have worked with the UKRC over a number of years and feel that the Conservative/Liberal-Democrat decision to withdraw their funding will be a huge loss and will be regressive in terms of UK gender equity (as indeed will be many of the other cuts).

    We have had concentrated work on gender equity and STEM since the 1970s. However, much of it was ad hoc. What is so impressive about the UKRC is that they build on the experience gained so that their policies and practices are genuinely evidence based. The proposed switch to the ‘mainstreaming’ of gender issues in STEM will lead to a loss of this experience, expertise and knowledge. Organisations will be reinventing the wheel in an uncoordinated, uninformed and ineffective way.

    Further the proposed mainstreaming focuses on recruitment of women into STEM subjects and careers and leaves the vital are of retention of women in STEM largely untackled. By contrast the UKRC have a strong track record of: supporting networking and mentoring among women and women returners (e.g. through training and funding other schemes such as Geek Girls Dinners), promoting women-friendly employment practices (e.g. through the Athena Swan charter scheme), celebrating female success (e.g. through the Women of Outstanding of Achievement Award and Photography Exhibition).

    The UKRC also has a vital coordinating role collating statistics and resources that are used by teachers, researchers, employers, journalists, policymakers and individual women.

    I hope that you will do what you can to reverse this cut.

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