A research centre based at Edinburgh Napier University has been awarded a £600,000 grant by the Scottish Government after its previous funding was rescinded by Westminster.
The Scottish Resource Centre (SRC) for Women in SET will be given £200,000 annually for the next three years.
The aim of the Centre is to increase the number of women working in the fields of Science, Engineering and Technology.
Linda Somerville, the Manager of the SRC, spoke to The Journal about the negative impact that a lack of female workers currently has on the sector: “This represents a huge loss to industry and academia of talented and skilled staff. It also curtails the career aspirations of many of Scotland’s brightest women.
“Both the centre and the university feel it is important to address the under-representation of women in SET to benefit...women and the Scottish economy.”
Patrick McFall, a Senior Media and Communications Officer at Edinburgh Napier, told The Journal that “the SRC are simply delighted to have another three years of funding.”
Established in 2005, the centre has worked with over 60 organisations and employers in related fields, and have received funding from Exxon Mobil, the Institute of Physics and the Forestry Commission.
They have also worked with Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Heriot-Watt universities.
Ms Somerville went on to tell The Journal about the various methods used by the centre to encourage scientific women in their careers: “We offer consultation and advice to employers to raise gender awareness and promote equality and diversity in their workplace.
“This includes focus groups and surveys for staff, reviewing policies and practices and organising women’s networks and mentoring programmes.
“We provide female...students with employability focused events to make links with industry, raise the profile of women in their sector and be inspired by meeting female role models. It makes students more confident in their choice of career and helps motivate students who may be feeling isolated.”
Since its inception, more than 500 women have taken advantage of the services offered.
Marianne McLeod, a Chartered Surveyor, first contacted the SRC in 2009 and is now featured as a successful case study on their website.
She described the contacts made through the centre as “extremely useful – including someone who became my life coach”.
Ms McLeod was also complimentary about the mentoring workshops offered, and has since become a mentor herself.
“I am hoping that [I'll] be able to prevent some other poor person having to sit in an office surrounded by men wondering why she’s not getting anywhere.”
A report released on 4 April by the Royal Society of Edinburgh found that a majority of female STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) graduates were not working in their respective fields - “27% are using their qualifications to work in STEM occupations compared with 52% of men.
“Scotland is failing to use fully its available human resources. This is reflected in the number of highly-qualified women who either leave the...sector early on in their careers or, where they stay, are under-represented in top positions.”
The report makes several recommendations, including the introduction of “legislation that recognises equal parenting, allowing parental leave to be shared flexibly between partners” and for “employers, government and professional bodies to implement an annual gender equity evaluation”.
The First Minister initially announced the new partnership on 8 March, International Women's Day, declaring in Parliament that “on [this day] it's important to remember that progress must continue to be made to ensure women play a full part across the workforce”.
He later stated that he was “very pleased to confirm that the Scottish Government is to take over funding of this valuable initiative” enabling the Centre to “carry on its vital work”.