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Happy International Women's Day!

IWD-blog-cover The theme of this year's International Women's Day is #BalanceforBetter.

Happy International Women’s Day from the Young Academy of Scotland.  To celebrate this important day, we’re reflecting on some of our projects that address gender equality and help advance women and girls.  

Since being founded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) in 2011, YAS has been committed to the principals of equality and diversity, both within its membership and in all projects and collaborations.  From our first recruitment round, we have committed to being gender balanced, and at present 57% of our membership is female.

We reaffirmed our commitment to equality when launching our first strategic plan in 2015, when we named Equal as one of our six strategic themes.  We define this theme as ‘promote equality and justice between peoples and nations,’ and a key element of this is to advocate for gender equality within YAS, in Scotland and internationally.

Please see below for a selection of YAS projects which have addressed gender-balance and the rights of women:

 

Tapping All Our Talents

In November 2018, the RSE and YAS launched our report, Tapping All Our Talents 2018, which reviewed the progress that Scotland has made at increasing the proportion of women working and studying in STEM, including the number who rise to senior positions in academia and industry. This project took the RSE’s influential report of 2012 on women in STEM as a baseline to considers what has – and has not – changed for women working in STEM in Scotland today.

To learn more about this ambitious project and download a full copy of the report, please visit the RSE website.

 

Research the Headlines

Research the Headlines, our interdisciplinary blog that addresses how media portray research findings, often examines stories with a strong gender or feminism element.  For instance, stories about pregnancy myths, gender equality in STEM, and cultural perceptions of gender are popular topics.  Below is a selection of links to Research the Headlines posts that deal with gender and women’s rights:

 

FIRST LEGO League

In partnership with not-for-profit organisation Lambda Jam, the YAS brought the international computing and engineering competion FIRST LEGO League (FLL) to Scotland.  We ran this event from 2012 until 2018, when organisation of the programme was handed over to our friends at the Energy Skills Partnership Scotland.

In running this ambitious programme, YAS and Lambda Jam placed special emphasis on broadening participation in FLL and igniting an interest in engineering and computing in girls.  A bursary scheme was set up to provide children with robot kits, training and support. Priority was given to teams with a majority of female participants, and those likely to have limited access to resources.  

 

Academic Women Now

Published by YAS in 2016, this booklet highlights the varied routes to success taken by our female members.  Each page gives an overview of one woman’s academic career, considering their personal circumstances as well as their professional achievements.

The booklet was created in response to still low numbers of senior women in universities, despite growing recognition in the corporate world that the talents and expertise of women bring enormous benefits.  It aimed to facilitate and inspire further discussion and study about the career progression of women across the entire range of academic disciplines. By focusing on the mid-career stage, it offers a set of role models for early career researchers, many of whom still harbour doubts about whether academia is a good career for women.

Academic Women Now may be downloaded here.

 

Looking to the future

In YAS, we know that it is essential to strive for equality every day, not only on 8th March.  As we continue to develop our work programme and expand our membership, we are committed to continuing to work toward gender equality in Scotland and beyond by celebrating women’s achievements, addressing gender bias, and taking action to advance women and girls.

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Dr. Mhairi Towler is the founder and Director of Vivomotion (www.vivomotion.co.uk), a multi-award winning animation production company based in Dundee. The company offers a service of bespoke animations for scientific communication as well as training courses on the visual presentation of science.

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