First University in Ireland to Achieve Practitioner Award
NUI Galway’s School of Physics’ work in promoting equal opportunities in science has been rewarded by the Institute of Physics. The School has been made a Practitioner under the Institute’s Juno Project, the first university in Ireland to achieve this status.
The Juno Project, established by the Institute of Physics in 2007, aspires to redress the long-standing issue of the under-representation of women at the highest levels of physics academia in the UK and Ireland. The aim of Juno is to recognise and reward departments that can demonstrate that action has been taken to address the under-representation of women in university physics and to encourage better practice for both women and men.
While women make up 20% of physics undergraduates across Ireland and the UK, this number drops to 7% further along academia at the level of university professor, suggesting female physicists are less likely than their male counterparts to progress into the most senior positions in physics. The Juno principles improve working culture for all departmental staff, creating, for example, flexible working arrangements, provision for childcare and a more transparent organisational structure. The potential for improvement has driven high levels of engagement amongst Irish and UK physics departments.
Dr Miriam Byrne, Co-ordinator of the Juno project in NUI Galway, said: “Whilst this is a significant achievement within NUI Galway, the first university in Ireland to attain this status, it must also be acknowledged that both nationally and internationally, women at every level in physical science are under-represented. We have a reasonable proportion of women in our undergraduate cohort but at postgraduate and senior academic staff level there are far fewer women. This is a concern if female undergraduates do not see role models to encourage them to take up careers in science.”
Professor Andy Shearer, Head of the School of Physics, NUI Galway, said: “The School of Physics is committed to increasing the number of women taking Physics courses and our participation in the Juno project is part of this. We hope that in future years this will increase the number of female graduates coming out NUI Galway with a Physics degree.”