International Men’s Day… Men and Gender Equality at Babraham Institute
19th November marks International Men's Day. November is recognised as a month to highlight men’s issues, in past years many men at the institute have grown their moustaches to raise funds for men’s health charities.
This year, the Athena SWAN team are challenging institute staff to ‘Move’ for Movember; to get up, walk and speak to the person we need to instead of sitting at our desks and sending another email. Not only will this increase the number of steps we take in a day, and hence improve our health, but it will improve internal communication and relationships amongst colleagues.
In this spirit, the Human Resource and Athena SWAN teams are releasing updated policies on shared parental leave and improving awareness of work life balance (WLB). Men and women being able to take shared responsibility for all aspects of family life leads to benefits for the entire family.
In our recent LIBRA survey (2016) 78% of male researchers at the institute strongly agreed or agreed that the institute has the facilities to enable them to achieve a good WLB.
Dan, a technician in our Biological Support Unit (BSU) said that ‘BSU have always been supportive when I have required time off with my children if they are ill and have also allowed me a little bit of time in lieu to attend events special to my children. I feel that it is important for both my partner and I to share this responsibility. Being available to share those duties with my partner now has taken some stress off of her. BSU management has also been very good in allowing me to be flexible on my start/finish time, which has enabled my partner to get a new job. The benefit of this support is excellent and is one less stress for our family.’
Our internal Athena SWAN consultations (2016) have shown that a few members of staff have concerns that the project is focussed on women. Indeed, a lot of the work that has been done, especially within the LIBRA project, has been with the aim of improving the number of females and hence gender balance in senior roles in science. However, the Athena SWAN team are very concerned with the progression of everyone’s careers and areas of the institute that currently have low male representation. By improving equality, we hope to improve institute life for everyone.
I spoke to Benjamin Smith from Babraham Nursery:
‘Ben, what is it like to work in an area of the institute that is heavily dominated by female staff’
‘Do you have any ideas on how the institute could improve the number of men applying for roles similar to yours?’
‘How important do you feel that it is for children of nursery age to receive care from both males and females and in their child care setting?’
‘What do you feel Babraham does well to support staff with family and/or caring responsibilities?’