VIDEO: Sheffield film reveals struggle of female academics

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An inspirational film shows how female academics in Sheffield faced personal struggles to shine in their specialities.

The professors and a PhD student at Sheffield University have spoken out as part of International Women’s Day (Sat, March 8, 2014).

Dr Katie Edwards of The University of Sheffield

Dr Katie Edwards of The University of Sheffield

Only 22 per cent of professors in the UK are women and the city academics have revealed the challenges women have progressing in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Prof Jane Grasby, a biological chemistry expert and equality committee chairman, tells how her four-year-old daughter came home from school and said ‘girls can’t be scientists’.

The lack of confidence women can have in their abilities compared to men and how they do not feel ready to go for things like promotions or projects, is also discussed.

Dr Katie Edwards, from the department for biblical studies, said: “When I wanted to become an academic, I was told ‘no’ quite a lot. I think a lot of people do listen to ‘no’, and they take it and that’s it.

“I would always say, don’t ever listen to someone who tells you ‘no’, just keep going.”

Members of the university’s science communication society produced the short film in association with International Women’s Week.

Academics reveal how there are fewer women doing PhDs, as well as working in the field, than men.

Prof Lorraine Maltby, of the environmental biology department, said: “I was the first female head in the department – and the department is 100 years old.

“So I think there is still an issue with the number of females in senior positions.

“The challenge is how do we change that?”

Prof Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, director of enterprise education, said women’s CVs would often read ‘plainly’ compared to those of men who would highlight their achievements.

She saud: “Being able to say ‘I am good’ at what I am good at is important. And women, we don’t tend to be very good at it.

“It’s important to be able to celebrate what you do.”

The academics also spoke of how they loved their jobs and hoped more female professors would join them in the future.