The POD delusion reported yesterday that women have difficulty in managing science careers because of the prevalence of short term contracts. Female scientists who choose to have children at a point in their careers may well not have a job to come back to. If they have a running 6 month contract in a company doing research then their contracts may well expire before their maternity leave finishes.
Why is this important? In the UK our industries have been dismantled and sold off over the decades. We aren’t a steel producer or a coal exporter any more. We can’t rely on banking as an industry for the nation. Service industries don’t produce anything, they just move money around rather than make more money. We are too small a nation to be an energy exporter (except for the French nuclear power stations that they build on our land) so what do we have in the UK as national industries? I don’t know. Maybe scientists will be able to create industries through their research as we did with silicon (gallium arsenide) chip manufacturing in the early 90s or our aerospace industry can be expanded through research and improvements to technology.
Making science a career choice that is unstable and poorly protected makes it less attractive to people. Why would someone want to work in an industry with poor career progression, poor wage advancement, few rights and protections, etc? Surely as a nation we want people (and women are slightly more than half of us) to choose careers that are productive and worthwhile rather than another shop job or one of the other service jobs that make up 77% of our national industry.
How will David “Two Brains” Willetts be seeking to address this inequality and prevent unscrupulous employers from exploiting this loophole? Apparently he doesn’t think it is necessary.