Creating Futures in Science

Creating Futures in Science logoCreating Futures in Science

Career development support for early stage female researchers


Creating Futures in Science, Portia Ltd project, Berlin workshop photoTogether with Fraunhofer and Tel Aviv University, Portia is creating a new 'tool' for supporting female scientists at early stages of their career designed to enable more informed and more appropriate career decisions and plans.  The project is funded by the Elsevier Foundation under their New Scholar Programme.  The aim is to create a workshop that engages participants in scenario-building activities as a way to become familiar with scientific landscape that is accessible to them and enable them explore the various elements and how they may influence their own career aspirations and plans. pdf icon32x32  Download the toolkit

This project is motivated by the European Commission's recent public consultation on strengthening the role of women in science, which yielded professional development feedback: the need for more flexible career models and pathways; balancing career aspirations and family responsibilities; childcare issues and costs, mobility, dual career couples, and returning after career breaks. In addition, research eviCreating Futures in Science iamge of workshop preperationdence ha sheen accumulating which shows that young investigators are not receiving as good as they should have career advice at a time of increased competition for academic jobs.  

Creating Futures in Science takes a holistic approach by bringing together four key areas of a scientist's career: the institution that employs them and any job-specific issues; the research output and impact they are expected to produce; the engagement and recognition by the scientific community; and personal belief, attitudes and circumstances.  Institutions will be able to use the workshop to help women scientists navigate the complex relationships between events and decisions that shape a scientist's professional development through the doctoral and postdoc stages. This toolkit moves beyond traditional mentorship to provide an innovative new strategy for improving the career success of female scientists and engineers.  

Creating Futures in Science, Portia Ltd project, Berlin workshop photo“In science, the decisions made by individuals during the earliest phase of their employment determine the long-term shape of their career. The 'leaky pipeline' shows that the postdoctoral stage is a critical period for women. Many leave science at this point resulting in a loss of opportunity for them, and a loss of trained talent for science. Knowing what the options are; how the 'system' works; who are the right role models; how to avoid cultural stereotypes; and what to do about family life will greatly enhance the capacity of young female scientists to make career decisions that are best for them.” Dr Elizabeth Pollitzer, Director, Portia.   

The pilot workshops will be held in Tel Aviv and Berlin between the launch of the project, spring 2012, and its close in 2014.The first pilot, in Berlin was convened in early September 2012 and in Tel Aviv after that. Watch the video from the Israel workshop here: