Sparks fly over Royal Society gender study: Equality vs Business case
I am on the Royal Society’s side here. Absolutely, there is a solid moral argument that women should have every opportunity to be in STEM fields and that bias should be identified and eliminated. But it’s also a good idea to learn more about gender diversity and to explore whether a business case for gender diversity exists — can we prove that science works better if there if there is gender diversity? Why not ask these questions?
MPs have launched a formal parliamentary inquiry into whether British science is institutionally sexist. Concern at the high numbers of women scientists abandoning their careers has prompted the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee to look into why Britain is failing to stop females dropping out of science.
The Royal Society, which advises the Government on science, has launched a separate investigation into whether greater gender diversity would lead to better science. Such is the sensitivity around the issue that the study’s announcement provoked a public spat when a critic claimed the research would result in the need to make a business case for equality when solid moral arguments already existed.