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Queen's University Belfast receives £500k to improve gender equality within STEM

Queen's has received more than £500,000 funding for research that aims to improve gender equality within stem areas

QUEEN'S University Belfast has received more than £500,000 funding for research that aims to improve gender equality within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Despite numerous gender equality initiatives, fewer than 10 per cent of the UK's engineers are women - the lowest percentage in Europe - and the proportion of women studying engineering and physics has remained virtually static since 2012.

Queen's academics aim to address this by carrying out research to understand and address the attitudes that academics who work in engineering and physical sciences have towards gender equality initiatives.

Initiatives including Athena SWAN, a charter that recognises and celebrates good practice in advancing gender equality, exist across universities in Britain and Northern Ireland.

Queen's has been involved with Athena SWAN from its inception and holds an Athena SWAN gold award in psychology.

The research project aims to continue to improve gender initiatives. It will gain an insight into the potential barriers to gender equality initiatives and build training tools aimed at improving their reception. Queen's will work in collaboration with the University of Glasgow and University of Warwick.

Titled Inclusion Really Does Matter: Improving Reactions to Gender Equality Initiatives Amongst Academics in Engineering and Physical Sciences, it is one of 11 projects launched by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to improve equality, diversity and inclusion within engineering and the physical sciences.

Programme Director Dr Ioana Latu said: "Although gender equality initiatives exist in Engineering and Physical Sciences Schools across the UK, there may be ways that they could be more effective. Our vision is that in order to improve diversity and inclusion within engineering and physical sciences rapidly, we need to understand academics' attitudes towards gender equality initiatives.

"We hope that by addressing how gender equality initiatives are received on the ground, it will have long term effects by accelerating diversity and culture change within engineering and physical sciences, ultimately creating a more inclusive environment for women who study and work in stem fields."

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