Role models, mentors and sponsors
Video clip: Fran thinks that there is a lack of mentoring for young women in science and that they need to be encouraged to apply for fellowships.
I’ve never felt any overt gender discrimination in the sense that everybody I’ve worked with and for, the gender of myself, my colleagues, was irrelevant to what we did. But I think that there is undoubtedly gender discrimination within all scientific organisations and all other organisations. I mentioned that there was equality of gender balance in terms of my undergraduate, my graduate, my postgraduate training and then I now sit here with, you know, the number of senior women in Oxford, for example, in the pre-clinical departments is very, very small.
So where have they all gone? Why are we so under represented? And I don’t think it’s an overt discrimination. But I think it’s a subliminal discrimination that affects us all. And I think it’s incredibly complex. I think it stems from a number of factors. The first one, you know, which I can place firmly on my own shoulders is that, I think that we have a lack of mentoring for young women in science to say, ‘Apply for the Fellowship.’ You need someone to push you and to say, ‘Yes, you’re ready.’ I think as women we tend to be much more self- critical than our male colleagues and it means that we don’t apply for things as much. Now I don’t think it’s easy to change that because I think it’s a very intrinsic thing about…
...you know, different traits of the two genders. But I think what we can do is we can overcome that by much, much better mentoring and I think we need to identify postdoctoral women who are interested in academic science and really have a much, much more active structured mentoring programme, so that nobody falls through the cracks.
There is that push to say, ‘Yes, you are ready for that job. Apply.’ You know, and to actually really encourage people to take those risks and, you know, if they get these posts and they get these positions we will hopefully have many, many more women coming through.