Sunday, October 08, 2006

My lovely deli job is proving to be less lovely than I thought it was to begin with. Which is very unfortunate because it means I have to find another one. I haven't quit yet as I need to find something else first (my financial situation could be better). I have applied for a web developer job at uni, it would be more than perfect, but we'll just have to wait and see. The problem with the deli job
is that it's just too demanding. For the past week I've had to get up at 6am every day. Can you believe it!? It means that when I've finished my shift I'm just soooo tired and I have to go to bed ridiculously early. I've already missed 3 lectures (and it's only the first week) just because I'm so overwhelmed. My mood is deeply affected by it and I end up getting really low and negative. It's a problem and it's essential that I solve it.

I have taken some more photos of the Oldfield park neighborhood that I live in, in Bath. As the name suggest, this area used to be a collection of fields. Archeological finds show medieval field patterns, often based upon water courses, which in turn have produced the twisting streets of Oldfield Park.

Last month I was at the BA Festival of Science invited by the ABSW who did a networking session 'til late so I stayed the night. During the networking session I managed to get 'commissioned' to do a piece by Martin Ince (Science journalist/editor, Media adviser/trainer, Contributing eidtior to the Times Higer Education Supplement, editor of THES World Univeristy Rankings, Treasurer of the Association of British Science Writers and author of 8 books) I suggested to write about the talk entitled 'women in science'.
I wrote the following piece:

Women in Science: Fulfilment or frustration?

Sara Connolly from ASSET began this afternoon’s debate with statistical evidence showing that women, on average, get paid £2500 less a year than their male counterparts. It is not the first time startling proof of discrimination against women in SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) has seen the light of day.

When the ASSET survey included employer responses to the question of how they think the situation should be improved, examples were; through equal pay audits, transparency in pay setting and promotion, reviews, commitment from the top and working together with the employees. When the predominantly female audience was asked by the Chair (Jenni Murray from Radio 4’s Women's Hour) if anyone had undergone a pay audit at their workplace, only one person was able to say yes.

Another problem highlighted by the ASSET survey showed that although there are more female undergraduates than men, this trend declines with seniority, the result being more men at the top than women.

Panellist Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell's comment to the “leaking pipeline problem” was "Let's have exit interviews as a matter of course". Dr. Irene Lorenzoni suggested working together, making policy and structural changes.

The panel also included Dr. Jo Dicks who was obviously pregnant and so a prime candidate for answering the Chair’s question, “What do you do once you have a child?” As it was Dr. Jo Dicks’s second pregnancy, she knew that it was necessary to do "some deep thinking" and "make really sensible choices" due to demands on her time.

She also advocated mentors, which she thought could help streamline your career. Other solutions for combining family life with a career in science came from panellist Professor Peter Main, who suggested “outputs, not inputs”, changing work hours and a more enlightened view of working from home.

A number of issues important to women in SET were discussed, including that of aptitude, unconscious biasing, stereotyping, marketing of motherhood (the new name of mother is “leader”) and how to avoid becoming a portfolio research scientist.

The debate also returned to the topic of underpaid women. All agreed that pay differences should be illegal and should be decided on a goverment level. As if on cue, a slightly delayed MP Dr. Ian Gibson (Labour) joined the rest of the panel. Unfortunately, he lived up to the political stereotype by avoiding giving straight answers. After much prodding from Jenni Murray who asked, “Why is there not a stronger political will to implement the equal pay act?”, he said that it would require prosecution, and to do that women have to act first.

Towards the end, after much discussion, an audience member asked the panellist if they thought it would be different if the majority of leaders in a hypothetical institution were women? To that Burnell replied, “In my last job I had a female boss and she was tough as nails".

The other panellist agreed that perhaps it’s not the old generation that needs a helping hand but the younger generation. It seems that young women today are surprised when they have to fight for their rights. The old battles have been left behind and new ones that are different from those 25 years ago have arrived.

These new battles do not just concern women but young men as well, so that they can have the choice to stay at home and still have a career. Debates like this can help create awareness, political pressure and confidence, and help women to network. The danger lies in preaching to the converted.

Magdalena Kogutowska

But I never heard back. A few days ago I went on the BA website to see if I could find out what had happened to my article. Well, it had been scrapped and replaced by this one

Oh, well. I think it was because it was a bit late. At least I gave it a shot. But I wish they'd let me know.

I have had a pretty bad week to be honest, but I've cut back on the 6am mornings this coming week so hopefully I'll get more fun out of the week. Last Tuesday I managed to sign up to a bunch of societies at the societies fair. So I have a meeting with the student paper 'Impact' on Monday, my first 'digital darkroom' photography class on wednesday, and also a meeting with the Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution, plus need to arrange another gym induction as I missed my first one and make sure to make ALL my classes/lectures/seminars.

I have a few ideas for the 'Impact" meeting on Monday. Mainly to write about and interview researchers on campus. I think it would be really nice to know what people are doing and I think it has potential to help foster interdisciplinary bridges across the various departments. And - not to forget - be a brilliant journalistic experience that could help me get a job/placement in the future!

Oh - I almost forgot - I haven't smoked for a good two weeks now! Well done me!

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