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Women in Science

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Video clip: Elspeth thinks that courses on unconscious bias should be compulsory for all members of staff, both men and women.

You mentioned Athena SWAN when I came in, how do you think it’s changed anything in your department or has it not?

I think that there’s an awareness now that there are some issues and I think that’s very positive but I do worry that the whole of the Athena SWAN thing is more window dressing than actual culture change, and I think there just needs to be such a huge culture change. There are very honourable efforts in this department going on at the moment to balance loads, to actually find out what everybody does and to find out whether the loads can be equalised and I think that’s a very positive and, and good thing.

How would you say that culture could be changed? Have you got any ideas to make it better?

Yes, I have.

Do you want to say a little bit about it?

Well there is a pilot course going on in the University on Unconscious Bias and I think it should be compulsory for all members of the department, not just men, but all members of the department to go on this Unconscious Bias course. There are small things that really give people away. So I say, ‘Oh, you know, I met a fantastic colleague who could code up something or other’. And the person I’m talking to will automatically assume that’s a man and, you know, often it isn’t, and it’s not trapping people. It’s just if I talk in a gender neutral way about something, it’s very, very interesting how it’s always assumed that it must be a man I’m talking about. And that’s, that’s, shows terrible, well unconscious bias at a very deep level and even people who think they aren’t biased actually probably do, and it’s our programming. It’s not the fault of these people.