Careers advice and support for early career researchers

Early career researchers (ECRs) – PhD Students and Research Associates – face difficulties in securing academic positions. Women are well represented at this level; however, the numbers drop off significantly at lecturer level and above.

This action aims to increase the opportunities for ECRs to have time and support in undertaking personal development and thinking about an academic career as a viable option. The desired outcomes fall into two parts: first, the events should have good attendance from female ECRs; second, impact in terms of better clarity about career aspirations and goals and success in taking steps (big or small) towards an academic career, or otherwise.

The Hub Committee and the University's Research Staff Association has run regular sessions for ECRs, which are open to all university research staff. In addition to these, they have organised two workshops for female ECRs: 'Managing your academic career' and 'Leadership skills for women' and a workshop on ‘Applying for research fellowship’ for all ECRs.

These events have worked very well and seem to be yielding significant results in terms of fellowship applications and lectureship appointments. Over a twelve month period six female researchers from the School have moved onto lectureships: There appears to be an increase in the success of female ECRs in securing permanent academic appointments. It is worth mentioning that the University has also supported the actions and institutional funding has also been allocated to cover the external speaker for the Leadership.

One challenge of this action is that as the events are voluntary not all ECRs take full advantage of the support on offer. Research project commitments often take precedence in the minds of ECRs (and PIs), so taking the time out for personal development can be difficult.