Spending Review 2010 - HC 618Written evidence submitted by The UKRC (SR 21)

Executive Summary

1. The UKRC [www.theukrc.org] has a vested interest in the science budget. The UKRC was core funded by the government from 2004 until 2011 at an average of £1.8 million p.a over the seven years, (£2.5 million in 2010–11) to address the serious under representation of women in science, engineering and technology (SET), working with organizations, business and individual women. The Science Budget Allocation included a decision not to renew funding for the UKRC from April 2011. A transition sum of £500,000 for 2011–12 was latterly agreed. By 2012 the UKRC will have sustained a loss of 100% of its government funding.

2. The UKRC argues that it continues to have a vital role to play under the new policy framework as an independent expert organisation for equality and diversity in STEM acting as a driver and catalyst, requiring a realistic level of funding and appropriate timescales. The UKRC is particularly well placed to continue promoting good practice and identifying where equality of opportunity is lacking, assisting the government with “deep insight” of causes and solutions. This role is indicated in the recommendations that follow.

This submission explains the concerns that the UKRC has in relation to the science budget allocation and the equality and diversity strategy being adopted within it.

The argument is made in sections covering:

Process on the funding decision.

Background and Policy on women in SET.

Mainstreaming, Equalities and Diversity—theory and practice.

Strategies for Equality in SET.

Recommendations for the Science and Technology Committee

1. A framework and strategy for Diversity in the STEM workforce should be produced which clearly articulates how “embedding good practice”, the “right incentives and direction”, “better value” and “wider reach and greater impact” will be defined, assessed and progress measured.

2. The Government should ensure that the costs and benefits of the decision not to renew funding for the UKRC can be assessed in the context of BIS’ strategy and the Government’s overall equality objectives, and put in place the appropriate mechanisms for accountability and scrutiny of diversity and equality initiatives.

3. The Government should ensure that relevant expertise for mainstreaming and delivering equality is held by those funded to deliver programmes.

4. A new strategy on women in SET should be fully articulated and formalised. It should be positioned within a diversity framework, which has explicit, resourced and measurable objectives, and supported by an independent expert organization acting as a driver and catalyst, backed by a realistic level of funding and appropriate timescales.

5. The Government should recognise that mainstreaming and the provision of an expert resource and catalyst are not in conflict, and that mainstreaming will not be effective without an expert resource and driver. They therefore should resource a longer “transition” period to measure and assess the effectiveness of implementation of the new strategy.

6. The Government should continue to allocate core funding to the UKRC beyond 2011–12. This will sustain an efficient expert centre that can: develop necessary equality resources and tools for the STEM community; provide an overview to address gaps in action, avoid reinvention and duplication; ensure co-ordination of effort. Women’s participation in SET is a matter for all relevant stakeholders enabled to strategically align by an expert centre.

7. The Government should resource the UKRC to broaden its formal remit to deliver on a wider diversity agenda, to align with the Equality Act 2011.

8. The Government should ensure that the leadership on Equality and Diversity from mainstream bodies does not result in piecemeal and fragmented coverage. Equality analysis and capability for action should cover the breadth of the STEM sectors, the full range of professional and vocational occupations and career paths, and the barriers and progression issues across the career lifetime, and not only initial education and supply.

9. The Government should be challenged to ensure that the level of investment in equality and diversity actions during the 2011–12 to 2014–15 period is maintained at equivalent to previous levels and is transparent within the mainstreaming approach.

1. Background

1.1 The UKRC [www.theukrc.org] has a vested interest in the science budget. The UKRC was core funded by the government from 2004 until 2011 at an average of £1.8 million p.a over the seven years, (£2.5 million in 2010–11), to address the serious under-representation of women in science, engineering and technology (SET), working with organizations, business and individual women. The Science Budget Allocation included a decision not to renew funding for the UKRC from April 2011.A transition sum of £500,000 for 2011–12 was latterly agreed. By 2012 the UKRC will have sustained a loss of 100% of its government funding.

1.2 The areas of SET education and employment cover Higher and Further Education, Apprenticeships and research careers and research funding, employers of SET qualified people, the SET industrial sectors and the many associated learned societies, academies, professional bodies and women’s organisations.

1.3 In 2002 Lord Browne said “The under representation of women in SET is not an issue for a single organisation but for strategically aligned efforts from all relevant stakeholders.”

1.4 The UKRC agrees. Women’s participation in SET is a matter for all relevant stakeholders enabled to strategically align by an expert centre.

2. Introduction to the UKRC

2.1 The UKRC was established in 2004 following the Roberts’ Review SET for Success (2001) and the Greenfield Report SET Fair (2002). The UKRC has received two rounds of core funding through the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and its predecessor departments. In the period 2008–11 the UKRC was awarded £7.45 million and in the period 2004–07 a total of £5.2 million.

2.2 The UKRC has therefore developed over seven years as the UK Government’s lead organisation for the provision of advice, services and policy consultation regarding the under-representation of women in science, engineering and technology (SET). It creates, shares and delivers solutions to build the talents, skills and diversity of the workforce in these sectors.

2.3 The UKRC has an advanced model of cultural change for SET business and organisations and a successful package of employability and career support for women. These are tried and tested models created in response to research evidence and achieving impact. The UKRC is closely connected with the SET sectors, with established relationships as a trusted advisor to many organisations and has extensive reach to women and organisations through its membership networks.

2.4 The UKRC has focused on the following strategic areas of delivery and impact:

The UKRC supports business and organisations, including education and research institutions, to increase the recruitment, retention and progression of women scientists, engineers and technologists.

The UKRC develops and delivers resources and programmes to support individual women to get into, get established, return to and get to the top in SET career paths.

The UKRC acts a central resource and single point of contact for expert advice, know-how and effective good practice models and tools for the SET sector and stakeholders.

The UKRC engages in policy debate, the provision of research, data and statistical analysis and strategic influence within the SET community in support of its aims.

2.4 During the last contract period 2008–11, the UKRC directly reached over 7,000 women, of which 2,500 have participated in specific career development support, with approaching 900 women reporting positive outcomes at March 2011, such as raised profile, entering training, progression in work or returning to employment. The UKRC’s direct engagement with organizations and employers in the same period has so far led to over 300 organisations, encompassing over a million people, reporting positive changes and improvements in gender equality through their work with the UKRC, such as increased recruitment and retention, diagnosis and action plan, improvements in working environment. Additionally the UKRC supports and provides information and resources for groups and networks. The UKRC’s “Connect” project for groups and initiatives supporting women in SET has over 100 registered member organizations with a collective membership reach of over 25,000 women.

2.5 The loss of direct support services both to individual women and organisations and businesses is significant.

3. Science Budget

3.1 In its announcement on 20 December 2010, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) stated that:

“Better value can be realised through … broader activities and through better direction of existing diversity projects. Therefore, from April 2011, funding for the UKRC will not be renewed.”

3.2 The announcement also states: “The way forward to tackle this issue is to encourage diversity in the STEM workforce by embedding and mainstreaming it through a number of the programmes we fund, and those of the partners with which we work.”

And:

“…given the right incentives and direction, we expect these (programmes) to establish a wider reach and greater impact on all areas of diversity and equality in the STEM workforce.”

3.3 BIS have not yet set out what impact and results the new mainstreaming strategy will seek to achieve, or how the equality and diversity objectives for each programme and project will be set, embedded, incentivized and measured.

3.4 The Government’s stated commitment to promoting equality and ensuring diversity in the STEM workforce remains welcome.

3.5 There are a number of problems with the decision not to fund the UKRC with public sector monies from the BIS science budget:

Process on the funding decision.

Background and Policy on women in SET.

Mainstreaming, Equalities and Diversity—theory and practice.

Strategies for Equality in SET.

4. Process on the Funding Decision

4.1 There was a lack of involvement and transparency in the process on the decision not to renew the UKRC’s funding.

4.2 There was no formal and open consultation process concerning the funding to the UKRC, or the need for its work, or its effectiveness. No immediate stakeholders of the UKRC were involved and neither were any wider SET sector and community stakeholders. The UKRC would have welcomed discussion and debate to refresh its strategy and contribute to the new policy thinking and direction.

4.3 No Equality Impact Assessment has been done. Equality Impact Assessments are no longer a statutory requirement. However, public bodies are still required to assess the impact of their decisions, and be transparent and accountable to communities about the decisions that they are making.

4.4 No informal communication was received by the UKRC about the intention not to renew or the likelihood of a withdrawal. The UKRC was not invited to make proposals and no discussion was initiated. The UKRC did submit a paper in early November 2010, giving an outline for a forward strategy and way of working and requesting a meeting with the officials, but received no response at that time.

4.5 The announcement not to renew the UKRC funding and the new policy direction on mainstreaming diversity has met with alarm from organisations and women scientists and engineers. Many organisations are not confident that they can proceed effectively. They have strongly stated the continued need for a central body of expertise, a holder of and repository for best practice, an organisation that has a strategic overview of the equality in SET landscape, which gives visibility to equality and diversity issues, which has credibility and through facilitation can influence change in organisations involved in programme delivery. Without due process and proper planning it has not been possible to air views and discuss the issues of resourcing, expertise and transition time where a year isn’t long enough. The lack of timely transition planning in 2010 leaves them exposed.

4.6 The policy direction has changed without proper evaluation and evidence base.

There has been no public review of the work of the UKRC since 2008 to inform the decision to change strategy from a “centre” offering strategic alignment, to a mainstreaming strategy lead by two or three other sector bodies. The UKRC has consistently met and often exceeded the requirements and targets agreed with the department. There is no evidenced case made for the new approach being “better value”.

4.7 The outcome of this process is highly likely to undermine the previous investment of public money and progress to date. Concerns about lack of consultation, the need to retain expertise through policy changes and manage successful transitions, emerge strongly from the Inquiry into the Review of Public Bodies by the Public Administration Select Committee. The steps taken by BIS to secure a successful transition to the new strategy have been retrospective and not timely. There are concerns about the new approach too.

4.8 The scope and priorities for the new government strategy, and the leadership responsibilities and accountability, are not yet articulated or agreed. The Royal Academy of Engineering is mentioned in the Science Funding Allocation announcement as developing a “new diversity programme in engineering” with a small allocation of funding, however the focus and outcomes are still to be determined. Neither has a parallel body to lead on the wider “science” domain been identified. There is a danger that the time needed to agree new roles and functions may consume much of the energy and resource available for the one-year transition period.

5. Background and Policy on Women in SET

The Position of Women and Girls in SET 2010

5.1 At the end of 2010 the UKRC published Women and men in science, engineering and technology: the UK statistics guide 2010.

Only 5.3% (674 thousand women), or about one in 20, of all working women are employed in any SET occupation, compared to 31.3% for all working men (nearly one in three), in a total of 5.5 million women and men in SET occupations. This means that a man is six times more likely to work in a SET occupation than a woman.

5.2 The number of girls and women studying STEM has improved. However STEM graduates do not always work in SET occupations. Female STEM graduates of working age in the UK (a total of 620 thousand women) are more likely to take up employment in non-SET than in SET occupations. Only 29.8% (185 thousand) of all female STEM graduates of working age in the UK are employed in SET occupations compared to half (782 thousand) of all male STEM graduates of working age. Nearly 100 thousand female STEM graduates are either unemployed or economically inactive.

5.3 Women were only 12.3% of the workforce in all SET occupations including health and skilled trades in 2008. This is an increase of 2.0 percentage points since 2003.

Review of the position of women in SET 2002–03

5.4 In 2002, the government established a review into the representation of women in SET. The SET Fair report called for an integrated approach to address the fragmentation of efforts, the need for culture change and the importance of policy implementation at organisational level. The government responded in 2003 with a strategy on women in SET which included setting up the UKRC to work with businesses and organisations and individual women, particularly returners. It also set up an Implementation, later “Expert Group” on Women in STEM, originally tasked to monitor the whole strategy’s implementation. The future role of various STEM advisory groups has not yet been finalised, however, volunteer groups and forums should not be confused with the role of a professional delivery organisation.

Strategy for women in SET from 2003 on

5.5 Between 2004 and 2011, the UKRC fully met its contractual commitments arising from the government’s 2003 strategy. The extent to which all the other key elements of the strategy not directly within the purview of the UKRC were achieved or otherwise should also have been assessed and reviewed. This has not been done. The decision not to renew funding to the UKRC is not evidenced by proper arguments for the notion of an alternative approach to the representation of women in SET.

5.6 The UKRC has used the Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology approved by the Cabinet Office to undertake an analysis of its core work with organisations and individual women. This shows a return of over 5:1 for every £1 invested, which means that the £2.8 million invested in these UKRC activities over 18 months from April 2008–September 2009 generated £14.8 million in return.

5.7 The most significant findings from the SROI were the value generated for three key stakeholder groups: organisations and employers, unemployed women and those not working in SET, and their family and community. The positive impact on families and peer groups was an important added benefit of the UKRC work with individuals.

5.8 Combining a cut in resources with the mainstreaming approach will considerably limit what can be achieved. There seems to be little understanding of the time involved in creating change.

6. Mainstreaming, Equalities and DiversityTheory and Practice

Mainstreaming

6.1 The government has withdrawn its funding to the UKRC and is planning to allocate the lead responsibility on diversity, not, as before, “women’s participation in SET”, to two or more sector organisations. While the UKRC fully supports the idea of the professions owning the problem, the funding announcement makes enormous assumptions about the appropriate theory of change: the methods by which awareness is raised, and the processes to achieve more equal outcomes. The concept of mainstreaming is problematic in the field of gender and equality. The government has not articulated what is meant formally or informally. The term embedding is sometimes used interchangeably.

6.2 There is a considerable body of thinking in policy and academic fields in the UK, Europe and the USA, which explores the take up, effectiveness and differences between diversity, equality and gender mainstreaming policies, and approaches to change in organisations and businesses.

6.3 “Gender Mainstreaming” as a concept and an approach to inequality has been used informally and formally for more than 20 years. Its success in relation to women’s equality is still debated. It was originally conceived to have education and awareness, analysis and data, and consultation and participation activities or tools as components. One commentator said: “Mainstreaming is a deceptively simple concept that is likely to be extremely difficult to operationalise.” Others have aptly put it that: “If gender is everybody’s responsibility in general, then it’s nobody’s responsibility in particular.” This is exemplified by studies in other EU countries, which have shown for instance how long gender mainstreaming practice takes to develop. In addition, mainstreaming is widely recognised as only one of several elements necessary to create change in relation to equality in institutions and in society. The elements can be summarised as being: a framework (eg legislation, equality objectives and policy); positive action; and gender mainstreaming. “Diversity mainstreaming” is an even newer concept and aspiration, with far less history, or theory and practice to inform its implementation organisationally.

6.4 More equality (in terms of opportunity, treatment and outcome) in organisations, institutions and society depend on a number of factors including wider social change, business drivers, workforce relations, government policy and legislation. Most practitioners and experts agree that a number of elements generally assist change; these include political will, champions and leadership, resources, expertise, and monitoring.

6.5 Change management in this arena of equality between men and women is debated and complex. At the very least, the debate itself signals an area of public policy and practice in industry that has established bodies of knowledge and theories of change. These seem to have been set aside in the funding decision about the UKRC. Furthermore, there is no clarity in the announcement, or the discussions since, about how direction, incentives, good practice, best value and effectiveness will be defined, determined or assessed within the new approach.

6.6 The decision by BIS to embed and mainstream diversity is not backed by understanding or evidence. Even more critically, if there are no base lines or clear goals then it will not be possible to measure “better value” or “wider reach and greater impact”.

Equality—the Coalition Government strategy on equality—Building a Fairer Britain (2010)

6.7 Building a Fairer Britain does not include a signal or commitment to a diversity or mainstreaming framework. The strategy prioritises two elements of equality—equal treatment and equal opportunity. Its focus is on barriers to individuals, equality is “for all”, but also recognises specific problems in particular domains, for particular sub sections of our society.

6.8 It highlights several issues experienced by women (as a group) in particularly mentioning “occupational segregation and traditional approaches to job design” (p7) And, as the UKRC has also pointed out, this strategy spells out how much is lost to the economy by the waste of women’s talents. It rejects a labour market that “writes people off” because of “outdated perceptions”. It casts government’s role as leader, catalyst and advocate for change, working across society, recognising good practice and drawing on “deep insight”. The government wants to shine the “light of transparency on organizations” (p5).

6.9 With respect to the labour market it wants to work with business on fair access, flexibility and inclusivity and equal pay and opportunities. Notably, they say, “We need to address outright discrimination in the workplace and tackle persistent cultural attitudes that place barriers to individuals entering and progressing in the workplace because of outdated and misplaced assumptions and practices… Behavioural insights could help us address cultural attitudes. For example we know that some people have intrinsic biases about male and female capabilities, which impacts negatively on women’s career advancement”.

6.10 The UKRC is particularly well placed to continue promoting good practice and identifying where equality of opportunity is lacking, assisting the government with deep insight of causes and solutions, and helping with transparency.

6.11 The strategy also draws attention to the new arrangements it intends to make for consultation with women. The UKRC’s Connect initiative, which encompasses over 100 groups and organisations, reaching over 25 thousand women in SET – a network of networks of women in SET is at risk. There is a danger that the key stakeholders of women and other under-represented groups, as the customers, participants and final beneficiaries of the strategy on women in SET, will not be given effective voice and involvement. Women in SET may be fragmented again and less able to participate in the new arrangements for engaging with women and women’s organisations which are being advocated by the Home Office as part of the consultation in Spring 2011 on Strengthening Women’s Voices in Government.

6.12 It is not coherent or strategic when specific issues and approaches identified in one equality strategy are ill matched by the BIS Science budget allocations.

Diversity

6.13 With respect to the policy decision to focus on diversity rather than gender alone, the UKRC agrees that it is right that stakeholders address all relevant equality issues to achieve a greater “diversity” across the board. In fact it does so itself very effectively.

6.14 But it is not clear why this should be done a the expense of an effective initiative designed to address the most significant question of inequality in SET, that of women’s severe under representation, and not even invite the UKRC to set up similar responses to the specific needs of other under-represented groups.

Change management and leadership methods

6.15 What is in contention here are the methods by which awareness is raised and more equal outcomes achieved.

6.16 The UKRC has supported and witnessed a much deeper acceptance in the UK that women ought to be participating in greater numbers and at higher levels in SET than prior to the publication of the SET Fair report in 2002. Leading organisations and business increasingly recognise the value and competitive advantage women bring to STEM education, research and industry in terms of excellence, innovation and as a source of supply to meet skills shortages.

6.17 However, it is still widely the case that key senior people in SET are not fully sensitive to the issues that face under represented groups. Parts of the sector are held back by out-dated attitudes regarding women’s roles and position in the SET workforce. Moreover, they often struggle to know how to address the problems. They have turned particularly to the UKRC for advice and support for the range of recruitment, retention and progression issues they face.

6.18 The UKRC’s model of change has emphasised the need to embed and mainstream. It encourages systemic change within organisations, businesses and wider service provision. The UKRC has been outcome oriented, working with, not against, organisational direction and priorities, encouraging and enabling and helping share good practice through a number of products, techniques and programmes. A great proportion of the UKRC’s work has been within major businesses and institutions. The approach builds ownership and capacity in order to create sustainable change.

6.19 Furthermore, the UKRC’s work with businesses benefited from its services to individual women, because the latter informs policy and practice advice to the former. The UKRC has also applied findings from both fields to make representations and give advice on how existing services might be strategically aligned and improved (careers advice, skills policy, teacher training, and apprenticeship practice).

6.20 Positive action (activities to level the playing field often but not solely targeted at women and permitted in law) is a necessarily complement, not in conflict or contradiction with mainstream action.

6.21 The UKRC believes that a piecemeal approach to the question of gender equality in SET and in particular women’s increased participation is a backward step. The UKRC’s range of services and products has been designed to optimise potential for change in a systemic and systematic way. The UKRC recognises the interplay of societal expectations and stereotypes, tradition and role models, cultural resistance, unconscious bias and the continuum of opportunities for progression or attrition from school, through career and into leadership.

6.22 Change management requires a catalysing approach, creating opportunities and individuals able to operate at the “convergence of different domains and levels of activity. Their role involves connecting and leveraging knowledge, ongoing strategic relationships and collaborations, and forms of accountability across systems.”

6.23 The UKRC has not and does not propose itself as a body that should or could take all the necessary action. In the new circumstances it will seek to ensure that businesses, organisations and individual women can access an appropriate range of services that it has been providing. But just as importantly, the UKRC proposes itself as a body that takes a strategic overview, identifies issues and gaps and then can assist with catalyzing and aligning change. It is not clear that the new arrangements can offer the approach and expertise to maintain continuous improvement in an appropriate and sustained fashion.

6.24 Recommendations:

6.24.1A framework and strategy for Diversity in the STEM workforce should be produced which clearly articulates how “embedding good practice”, the “right incentives and direction”, “better value” and “wider reach and greater impact” will be defined, assessed and progress measured.

6.24.2The Government should ensure that the costs and benefits of the decision not to renew funding for the UKRC can be assessed in the context of BIS’ strategy and the Government’s overall equality objectives, and put in place the appropriate mechanisms for accountability and scrutiny of diversity and equality initiatives.

6.24.3The Government should ensure that relevant expertise for mainstreaming and delivering equality is held by those funded to deliver programmes.

6.24.4A new strategy on women in SET should be fully articulated and formalised. It should be positioned within a diversity framework, which has explicit, resourced and measurable objectives, and supported by an independent expert organisation acting as a driver and catalyst, backed by a realistic level of funding and appropriate timescales.

7. Strategies for Equality in SET

7.1 Current and previous governments argue for the importance of science and innovation, and have also identified a shortage of appropriate skills as an issue. They have also recognised the critical role of women in SET where women’s talents are clearly being wasted.

7.2 The UKRC has consistently proposed a more integrated and comprehensive approach to policy and services on gender and occupational segregation—for instance in its 2010 policy proposals; its advice to BIS; submissions to policy consultations; advice on improvements to the careers service, the adult advancement service and next step, apprenticeships in non traditional areas etc. However, its service base and strategic overview have not yet been fully exploited, limiting progress.

7.3 There are some very specific concerns about the new regime which follow.

7.4 Actions may revert to focus on a “deficit model” of fixing women to fit the existing workplace and sector culture. Fragmented projects to assist individual women or other under-represented groups will have little effect if the difficult but essential issue of organisational culture change is ignored. Organisational culture change is a strength and key feature of the UKRC services.

7.5 Statements made in the formal announcement and in correspondence with the UKRC are revealing. Despite potential for the professions to lead a lifetime demand strategy, our experience of the state of development and awareness in the community, suggests that their priority still tends to focus on early supply and the start of the pipeline. After all the work done by women in SET over 30 or 40 years this remains concerning. A focus only on initial supply ignores attrition: the unacceptable fall out of women from SET over a career lifetime. This is exacerbated by the disportionately low numbers of women in senior positions in SET. Unless girls can see that women populate SET workplaces because their cultures are welcoming and conducive, with no unconscious bias or discrimination by manager or workmates, then efforts targeted at that level alone will be undermined.

7.6 The ongoing Science and Society and related STEM programmes are likely to concentrate on youth, education and early career choice, and fail to address the persistent problems of later attrition and barriers to career advancement. Women trying to return after a career break and adults wanting to re-skill to enter STEM are unlikely to be a priority for the Science and Society programmes. UKRC has worked extensively with these groups.

7.7 Removing the central and comprehensive overview on gender equality and diversity across the breadth of STEM at the same time as making other dramatic policy shifts and funding cuts, such as in HE fees and funding, is likely to have significant longer term negative effects on women’s participation in STEM.

7.8 The withdrawal of core funding to the UKRC creates vulnerabilities for the future of the SWAN Charter Scheme, funded and run jointly by the UKRC and the Equality Challenge Unit. More than 50 higher education institutions are members of the scheme, and membership represents almost 40% of all eligible HE bodies, with 37 silver departmental awards.

7.9 The UKRC provides a unique service role in collating and analysing gender statistics and research evidence and integrating gender and SET in wider policy debate and formation. Without such information to inform policy and practice, there is a risk of policy being mis-directed and ineffective.

7.10 Particularly in the current economic climate, SMEs, public sector bodies and others are likely to struggle to make any financial commitment to organisational change with regard to gender equality. Larger private sector bodies are unlikely to invest in broader sector-wide programmes, and will limit their efforts to short term direct services for their own workforce.

7.11 The UKRC aims to continue its work through funded projects and charged for services to industry and other clients. However, government drivers and core investment are key to securing all employer sectors’ engagement with the equalities agenda even with a strong business case.

7.12 Many of the issues in the UK are replicated globally, especially in the US and the EU, where the UKRC is recognized as a model of good practice and where EU strategy for women in science now focuses on structural change in science and research organizations. BIS could work more closely with the UKRC as an expert body for international reputation.

7.13 Government core funding to support the expertise and vantage point of the UKRC at the heart of change on science would preserve the UK’s leading edge. It would achieve a continuity of strategy and resourcing, coupled with systematic and systemic action on many fronts—from school to top leadership and throughout the lifetime of an individual’s career.

7.14 Recommendations:

7.14.1The Government should recognise that mainstreaming and the provision of an expert resource and catalyst are not in conflict, and that mainstreaming will not be effective without an expert resource and driver. They therefore should resource a longer “transition” period to measure and assess the effectiveness of implementation of the new strategy.

7.14.2The Government should continue to allocate core funding to the UKRC beyond 2011–12. This will sustain an efficient expert centre that can: develop necessary equality resources and tools for the STEM community; provide an overview to address gaps in action, avoid reinvention and duplication; ensure co-ordination of effort. Women’s participation in SET is a matter for all relevant stakeholders enabled to strategically align by an expert centre.

7.14.3The Government should resource the UKRC to broaden its formal remit to deliver on a wider diversity agenda, to align with the Equality Act 2011.

7.14.4The Government should ensure that the leadership on Equality and Diversity from mainstream bodies does not result in piecemeal and fragmented coverage. Equality analysis and capability for action should cover the breadth of the STEM sectors, the full range of professional and vocational occupations and career paths, and the barriers and progression issues across the career lifetime, and not only initial education and supply.

7.14.5The Government should be challenged to ensure that the level of investment in equality and diversity actions during the 2011–12 to 2014–15 period is maintained at equivalent to previous levels and is transparent within the mainstreaming approach.

8. Conclusion“Transfer of Good Practice” versus a Systems, Process Approach

8.1 In conclusion, the recent budget allocation leaves the UKRC with the equivalent of 20% of its previous funding, but only for one year, and has the following implications:

A loss of momentum built over seven years.

Neither enough resources nor long enough time to undertake an adequate transition to a new strategy.

8.2 It is right that key organisations in the SET community, businesses and universities “take a lead” in making the necessary changes. But change on gender equality cannot be bottled and shipped, even with acknowledged business incentives: There is more than a knowledge base to build. Leadership from key institutions and an expert centre are not mutually exclusive strategies, they are complementary. Just as technology centres have a role in incubating and driving innovation, so equality centres catalyse and challenge. A “lead body” on gender equality is still needed to complement the work of the “mainstream” players, all working in partnership.

8.3 A lead expert organisation for gender equality offers a strategic overview, able to address the systemic nature of the participation of women and girls in SET, and advise on changes across the system—in the vocations and the professions of technology, engineering and science.

27 April 2011

Prepared 7th November 2011