Project Juno and the School

The School of Physics and Astronomy is very pleased to support Project Juno, an Institute of Physics initiative that recognises and rewards departments that can demonstrate they have taken action to address the under-representation of women in university physics and to encourage better practice for both women and men. The School was awarded Juno Champion, the highest level of award in this scheme, in June 2015, having previously attained Practitioner status in February 2012.

Dr Jeanne Wilson and Dr Marcella Bona collect QMUL’s JUNO Champion Award

Dr Jeanne Wilson and Dr Marcella Bona collect QMUL’s JUNO Champion Award

We collect and monitor gender disagregated data on many aspects of school life, from undergraduate recruitment to seminar speakers and act accordingly on our findings in an effort to create an equitable working culture in which all students and staff, men and women, can all achieve their full potential. 

The JUNO Committee, which meets termly, comprises members from all 4 sub-groups within the school and all career stages from PhD student to the Head of School.

JUNO Committee members

Chair: Jeanne Wilson (Senior Lecturer, particle physics)

Marcella Bona (Lecturer, particle physics)

Steve Lloyd (Head of School, particle physics)

Richard Nelson (Director of Astronomy Unit)

Sarah Cowls (School Manager)

Ryan Terri (Research Associate, particle physics)

Lucie Bone (Student Support Officer)

Costis Papageorgakis(Royal Society Research Fellow in Theoretical Physics)

Anthony Phillips (Lecturer in Condensed Matter and Materials Physics)

Edward Hughes  (PhD Student, Theory)

You Said - We Did

You said: The pool of high quality female seminar speakers in the UK is small in some fields resulting in over-demand for some speakers, there are many more potential speakers across Europe but this means higher travel costs.

We did: A portion of the Juno budget has been dedicated to supplement the seminar budgets. Seminar organisers should contact Jeanne Wilson with speaker proposals for additional funding (limited to one speaker per group per year).

You said: In 2011 Staff Survey, a number of staff indicated that the college induction was insufficient.

We did: We implemented an online staff induction form, given to all new starters, that will guide them through the necessary steps, policies and people to meet in the School. We regularly update this form based on feedback.

You said: A number of staff were unfamiliar with out policies (eg flexible working, career breaks, maternity plus)

We did: We have overhauled the staff intranet pages and report on policies at staff meetings and in the monthly school newsletter. We also arranged for a member of HR to talk about recent changes to parental leave policies at the October 2015 staff meeting.

You said: In QMUL surveys staff report that they do not understand the promotions process or find appraisals useful.

We did: We have implemented 1-2-1 meetings between the Head of School and all academics and senior post-docs, and between all post-docs and Heads of Groups.

You said: In our 2014 staff survey a low response from post-docs, who were generally unfamiliar with school policies, suggested the post-doc cohort is less engaged in school life

We did: We established a post-doc forum that meets informally once per term. Feedback collated anonymously is fed back to school management.

You said: (Post-docs)We would like more support from our line managers to teach, should we be interested in doing so.

We did: Post-docs will be included in requests for demonstrating, problem classes and other teaching assignments.

You said: (Post-docs) Appraisals conducted by a line-manager you report to regularly are not so useful.

We did: In addition to the QMUL-wide appraisal scheme, we have implemented annual 1-2-1 meetings for post-docs with either the Head of School or Head of a different research group.

You said: (Post-docs) We would like more careers guidance / events

We did: The post-doc forum worked with the careers service to set up a speed-networking careers event with representatives from a range of careers in March 2016.

We did: Following the post-doc forum model we also established a PhD-forum with its own internal YouSaidWeDid page.

For more detailed actions, see our internal Intranet pages: Undergraduates - YouSaid, WeDid,  PhDs - YouSaid, WeDid.


Please also see the Calendar link below for upcoming events and meetings within the SPA and QMUL.

Please let the JUNO committee know if you attend any of these events as we would love to hear your feedback.

The IoP is holding a "Taking Control of your Career as a Female Physicist" event on Wednesday 9 November, 2016, 10am – 4.30pm

Women's Day Celebration, 10th March 2016, School of Physics and Astronomy QMUL. We organised an inspirational speakers for a hour-long seminar, attended by about 25 people ranging from undergraduates to the head of School.

Women in Physics Conference, 2016, Read this blog from one of our QMUL students who attended

Women in Physics Day, 9th March 2015, University of Portsmouth: Graduate students can sign up via this link and JUNO will cover any travel expenses.

Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, 19th-22March 2015. JUNO will sponsor 2 undergraduate students to attend this event - for more information see this link

2014-11-25: JUNO Champion, IoP team visit

School of Physis Unconscious Bias Training session, 19th July.

Averil MacDonald, the SEPnet Diversity and Impact Lead gave a group of 23 members of SPA a 2 hour session on unconscious bias, which led to some interesting discussions about possible actions we could think about in the school. Apparently this was the biggest group Averil has trained so far. Thank you everybody for participating.

IoP lecture: Being different can be good: A female physicist looks at the interface of physics with the life sciences Part of Opportunity Physics 2014 public lecture series, Thursday 24 July 2014 A public lecture by Professor Dame Athene Donald DBE FRS InstP Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge

Could do better. QMUL's cross-institutional postgraduate conference on race in British universities, Monday 8th September, 2014

A Westminster policy briefing Gender and STEM: Where Next for Universities?

Royal Society Diversity Day at the Royal Society.

News gender-related studies

2015-07-08Using this one word can damage your credibility

Read more:

2014-11-20>Ten Simple Rules to Achieve Conference Speaker Gender Balance Journal article by Jennifer L. Martin

2014-11-24Not For People Like Me A report by Averil MacDonald, SEPNet launched with WISE that focuses on messages that work for girls in STEM.

2014-11-10Why It's Crucial to Get More Women Into Science - National Geographic

2014-10-27Why women leave academia Investigation of Chemistry PhD students discussed in the Guardian

2014-09-23Disappointing percentage of women awarded Royal Society University Research Fellowships this year RS to investigate

2014-09-23Emma Watson launches new UN HeForShe campaign for Gender Equality For more details see: HeForShe

2014-09-16Study: Male scientists want to be involved dads, but few are Washington post article

2014-07-14We Know Physics is Largely White and Male, But Exactly How White and Male is Still Striking Smithsonian article

2014-05-30'Brightest girls' among physics A-level dropouts BBC article

2014-04-20: Guardian Higher Education Network Securing money for research is hard for everyone – but then there's the sexism

2014-03-08: International Women's Day. Look out for events in school on March 7th and in college on March 12th.

2014-02-06: Commons Select Committee report Women in Scientific Careers and two T.H.E. articles on the subject, 1, 2

Government Response to the above report.

2013-10-05: NY Times magazine article What Are There Still So Few Women in Science

2012-12-10: The Times on Top Roles in Universities and on Gender Equality in League Tables

2012-11-30: study on gender bias recently published in the Proceedings of the American National Academy of Sciences

2012-11-15: The Times on Gender bias

2012-11-07: The Guardian on Gender gap

2012-11-05: IoP study on Girls in physics

2012-10-30: The Guardian on Where are the women in universities?

2012-10 Gravitating towards physicsIoP Report

Publications of bias studies

I.Neill Reid, Gender-based Systematics in HST Proposal Selection

Moss-Racusin et al. (2012) “Science faculty subtle gender biases favour male students”

Pautasso (2013) “Focusing on publication quality would benefit all researchers”

European Commission (2012) “Structural change in research institutions: Enhancing excellence, gender equality and efficiency in research and innovation”

Nature (2012) “Nature’s sexism: The authors of this publication need to improve how we reflect women’s contributions to science. For this, we must inject an extra loop into our thinking”

Valian (1999) “Why so slow: The advancement of women”

Steele and Aronson (1995) “Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans”

Shih et al. (1999) “Stereotype susceptibility: Identity salience and shifts in qualitative performance”

Devine, Forscher, Austin, & Cox (2012) “Long term reduction in implicit race bias: A prejudice habit-breaking intervention”

Policy and Procedure Documentation

Please note that you may need to identify through IDcheck to access some of these policy document, but there is some information on specific Physics and Astronomy schemes below under 'Diversity good practice'.

University Induction and Probation schemes.

University policy on appraisals and promotions.

University policy on sabbatical leave.

Maternity, paternity and adoption leave policies.

SPA maternityPlus policy.

University policy on flexible working.

SPA workload model.

SPA sabattical information.

QMUL Women's mentoring scheme

QMUL PhD holiday and maternity entitlements:
In the Code of Practise:
26. All students should agree their holiday periods, normally up to a maximum of six weeks per year, with their supervisor. Excessive absences must be reported to the Head of School/Institute and the Dean for Research, if appropriate, via normal progress report procedures.
In the regulations:
2.81 A student may interrupt their registration on the grounds of primary carer leave for up to one year per child. This may cover pregnancy and related illnesses, and/or caring responsibilities. Periods of interruption for primary carer leave shall not count towards the maximum of two years permitted for interruption, but in all other respects the standard interruption procedures shall apply. Secondary carers wishing to take an extended period of leave shall do so under the standard interruption procedures.

QMUL Policy on unpaid time off for dependents: p11 in HR Code of Practise - maternity

Diversity Links

The Equality Challenge Unit website with useful diversity resources and information on Athena Swan

The Institute of Physics report on Academic Physics Staff in UK Higher Education. updated with data 2011/12

The 2012 Institute of Physics report on Physics Students in UK Higer Education.

The University Diversity Website contains a number of useful links to various forums and groups, diversity documentation and also training opportunities.

The Learning Institute offers a number of courses, including fair selection and interview training and career advancement activities. 

The University careers service staff website.

General information about working at Queen Mary including benefits and staff development opportunitues.

Link to the University's Athena Swan charter.

Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) at QMUL.

Working Parents and Carers Group on QMplus. Information on how to sign up.

Institute of Physics Benevlolent Fund

Institute of Physics Very Early Career Woman Physicist of the Year Award seeks to recognise the work done by woman physicists who are embarking on a career in physics and to promote the career opportunities open to people with physics qualifications.

Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award This award is made to support the promotion of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Royal Society Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship for outstanding scientists in the UK at an early stage of their research career who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances such as parenting or caring responsibilities or health issues.

L'Oreal Women In Science Award recognises the achievements and contributions of exceptional females across the globe, by awarding promising scientists with Fellowships to help further their research.

Daphne Jackson Trust Fellowships a unique fellowship designed to return STEM professionals to their careers after a break. Fellows normally carry out their research part-time over 2 years, in a university or research establishment in the UK. The Fellowships are flexible and include a tailored training programme designed to update skills and knowledge and support you in your return to research.

Diversity Good Practice

Lunch-time Diversity events. The first in this series addressed caring issues with a talk through the various policies from a member of HR followed by a question and answer session. 24-4-2014. The handout from the event is available here.

Maternity Plus. In addition to the normal maternity entitlements, the School is pleased to offer female academics on permanent full time Academic and Education (Teaching and Research) contracts the opportunity to apply for ‘Maternity Plus’. The Maternity Plus initiative will provide a Research Associate*, funded by the School, for up to 15 months to continue the academic’s research programme while they are on maternity leave. As well as continuing the day-to-day research, the Research Associate will help with postgraduate supervision, maintain contact with collaborators, keep abreast of developments in the field and assist the academic in returning to work after her leave. All staff returning to work after a prolonged period of absence will be given lighter teaching and administrative loads. *The RA would only normally be provided to academics who do not already have RA support available. It would only be available for one period of maternity leave per academic.

School meetings are held during core working hours (10am-4pm)

New School Induction Scheme. Available on staff intranet pages now.

A Graduate student Forum is being established to provide a means for graduate students to discuss issues and voice any concerns.

We have inclusive schemes within the School such as PASS, a course-based mentoring scheme where first-years are given the opportunity to explore their problems with higher-year students (mentors) in a friendly, informal environment. We monitor gender statistics for attendance at these sessions which provide social support as well as academic.

The Award winning PsiStar physics society provide an opportunity for all students to interact, gain physics knowledge and interest and experience some of London's great attractions through a series of inclusive events.

The Hemara Scholarship offered by the school is to support a student who wishes to gain a physics degree, but may face barriers to higher education.