On Thursday, March 8, International Women’s Day, Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC), a Science Foundation Ireland funded (SFI) Research Centre, officially launched WomenInSSPC (WiSSPC). WiSSPC is a female professional development network formed in response to the underrepresentation of females at post-doctorate level and above in SSPC, and focussed on supporting the progression of female researchers in research and academia.
The initial mission of WiSSPC is to foster a culture of equality across the Centre, identify existing barriers to female progression and put measures in place to address these barriers. As there is less female participation at post-doctoral level and issues on women leaving academia.
Keynote speaker, Dr Damhnait Gleeson, spoke on Science Foundation Ireland’s Gender Strategy, addressing the gender imbalance across the Irish scientific landscape. Followed by a presentation from Prof. Michael Zaworotko, SSPC co-Director on how the Centre formed and will move forward with the initiative. SSPC will engage with SFI to tailor the SFI Gender Strategy for SSPC. The Centre has responded by establishing the WiSSPC Steering Committee whose goals are to set up a mentor/mentee system – pilot scheme of ten, targeted training & development opportunities for female PhD/PDRAs (3 sessions in 2018) and female networking initiative.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Denise Croker, SSPC General Manager, said:
“SSPC are delighted to have started this initiative to champion female career development and progression. We are committed to developing a culture of equality across the SSPC to benefit all of our researchers. By working with our partner institutes, industrial collaborators and Science Foundation Ireland we will implement a number of sustainable strategies to foster greater awareness of gender inequalities, and targeted methods to address female progression, in academia.”
The Centre plans to continue engagement with Athena Swan Committees at host institutes to gain from existing knowledge on best practice in female training and development. SSPC is committed to the tenets of the Athena Swan Charter: ‘to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research’ within host and partner institutes.
A panel discussion followed, with invited industry speakers, Gillian Morgan, Commercial Manufacturing Process Specialist, Janssen gave an overview of the Johnson & Johnson initiative WiSTEM2D. Dr Marie Kissane, Team Leader, Technical Services/Manufacturing Science, Eli Lilly, spoke on gender equality at Lilly: A Global versus local perspective and Karen Blakely, Commercialization Project Lead, MSD, spoke on diversity and inclusion at MSD.