Women in the Work Place

Women in the Work Place

Returners and Retention


discoverer of Pulsars

photo University of Bath
Astrophysicist and President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh


The Women who do Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics degrees in Scotland, don’t stay.   More than two thirds leave, yet less than half of the men leave the field.  At the same time the ICT industry, energy industry  green industry are  all saying, look we’re heading up for an enormous skill shortage, in the very near future.   So a country can’t afford that wastage of a large chunk of its talent.   It needs somehow to keep those women.


The new President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the outstanding astrophysicist science communicator, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, is very concerned about the lack of women in STEM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.   She sees women training in these fields then dropping out.

Professor Bell Burnell, continued    “There’ve been many initiatives: usually  started  by women, done by women. In Scotland  this strategy for women in science,  is  that initiatives  are joined up and that there is a government level strategy, so that they reinforce each other.

Interestingly the NHS, because it’s now dominated by women, has developed a lot of part time working,   flexible working,  job share.  That’s an entirely respectable, way of working.   Science and engineering  have yet to do that.  They’re saying we can’t do it, but they probably said that in the NHS at  one point.

The Lord Mayor on the other hand can see  women rising to the top in business and law, but is concerned about the gap at the lower levels, that diversity should be right the way through the company or practice, not just at the top.  Her Mayoral year is  “The Energy to drive Diversity”.


The Lord Mayor in her office

The Lord Mayor in her office, by Jonathan Goldberg


Obviously one of the key factors in having more women has to be education. Education and change of culture, and The City in particular is becoming aware just how much in terms of financial growth, the lack of women is causing the country.

As interviewer,  City Eye, has drawn some conclusions. In particular interviewing the Australian journalist and feminist Anne Summers, who was appointed to the Office of the Status of Women, by the Australian Prime Minister, during which time at least three key pieces of  of legislation were passed. Notably all companies and firms had to report annually to the government the ration of women to men.

It would seem that each firm needs to have a women focus group, to advise, new and inexperienced people, but also to monitor and remind the firm, the top people , how they are best supporting and valuing either new entrants, or women, ( and men) returning from careers breaks.   Especially if we had equal parenting leave, both women and men could be supported in returning.


How interesting to hear these ideas echoed by our Lord Mayor.

The Power woman with a global career.As a young solicitor she found the Association Of Women Solicitors, absolutely vital for support,

Beginning of the Lord Mayor's procession

The Lord Mayor outside the Guildhall

experience, knowledge, networking and not least socializing

“Why are our statistics going back wards?   Why aren’t we playing more attention to flexible and part time work?   We need to examine our work place culture, our chargeable hours culture, which rewards the quantity of the input, rather than the quality and efficiency of  of the output.   The Lord Mayor in interview with the Law society. 14 February 2013

 The Association for Women Solicitors used to run a magnificent returner course for returners in Cambridge, we could use that model.”

The Lord Mayor Fiona  Woolf, cites the Crown Prosecution service:

“While women are on career breaks they keep them up to date, send them files to work on,  are not precious about part time working, and are happy with flexible working. This also applies to men taking career breaks.

We are losing a lot of talent and a lot of economic benefit in this way.

©2014 Christina.ionthecity.com


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  1. […] Returners and Retention […]

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