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Women in Science

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Video clip: Jane thinks that men feel they must push themselves forward for promotion. She says that she would not have agreed to be head of department if anyone had opposed her.

I think about it in terms of it’s a shame that there aren’t more women. And we can talk about it [lack of women in senior positions] until the cows come home, and I think we may never get an answer, except for the fact that I think that women feel they have a choice that they can stop going up the ladder if they want to and I don’t think men feel that. I think the pressure is that they have to keep on going and I think that what that means is there’s a lot, a lot of mediocre men in high positions who probably would, if it had been acceptable to go off and do something else or decide not to just keep pushing through would have made that decision. But society doesn’t allow it.

I think they [men] feel they have to keep going and so they will push themselves forward more than women will. I mean if you just take the example of what I just said to you. I agreed that I would be head of department but only if there was unanimous support. I don’t think many men would have said that if they’d been asked to do it and were told ‘There are a number of people who want you to do it.’ They would have said, ‘Yes.’ Whereas I very much felt that because I knew there were other people who wanted to do it or would have done it, I just wanted, I wanted to know they were going to be behind me. I didn’t want to have to come in, I wanted to be able to take people with me, not beat them over the head to come with me.