STARBIOS2_FEATURES IMAGE education in Biosciences

Education as a key RRI issue, seen by the University of Oxford

Editorial Team Education, RRI

How do you understand Education in biosciences research?   Science education is a key element of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) framework. The aim is to better connect science and society through various educational approaches and interventions. This is particularly important in biosciences, which can help address some of the key societal challenges identified in Horizon 2020, including health, demographic change and wellbeing as well as food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, and the bioeconomy. What are the current standards and actions to achieve better Education in your University and in your country? NIHR Oxford BRC Research and Education Working group offers a variety of opportunities for training aimed to increase the research capacity of those working in the NHS. There are research Grand Rounds (lectures) for nurses and weekly newsletters to raise awareness of internal and external funding opportunities. The University of Oxford also hosts the Oxford University Clinical Academic Graduate School, which offers an academic foundation programme and Academic Fellowships. What are you aiming for with the implementation of the STARBIOS2 actions towards better Education standards for your institute? There are many educational opportunities at the University of Oxford via departmental seminars and training programmes associated with the NIHR Oxford BRC. We aim to identify the most appropriate avenues to disseminate RRI. These opportunities will fit into the delivery mechanism of the educational programmes, the local entrepreneurial milieu, and focus on the work of the NIHR Oxford BRC. What kind of actions are you going to establish to …

Advancing gender equality through the Athena SWAN Charter for Women in Science

Editorial Team Gender, RRI

Article written by Pavel Ovseiko, Alison Chappell, Laurel Edmunds and Sue Ziebland – Oxford University Health Policy Research and Systems;15(1):12. doi: 10.1186/s12961-017-0177-9. Background All UK universities have been encouraged to take Gender Equality very seriously and instigate many different approaches to improve circumstances for women in science. It is promoted and assessed by a high profile organisation – Athena SWAN which is part of the Equity Challenge Unit ( In 2011, the UK Chief Medical Officer was so dismayed  at the lack of women in academic medicine, especially in leadership positions, that she sent a letter to all UK medical schools stating that their funding from the National Institute for Health Research (for their associated Biomedical Research Centres, BRCs, and funding generally) could be at risk if they had not achieved Silver award status. Not surprisingly medical schools and all scientific research establishments across the UK did a lot more to address Gender Equity, and still do. Despite the wide-spread implementation of the Athena SWAN Charter, there has been very little qualitative evaluation of its impact. Oxford continues to be very successful with regards to Athena SWAN and funding of the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). There is still work to be done with respect to Gender Equity here, but we have already achieved a lot; for example 16 departments of the Medical Sciences Division (MSD) also integral to the NIHR Oxford BRC, have Silver awards. All this experience of Athena SWAN in turn provided a context for us …

Gender in Biosciences, seen by Oxford University

Editorial Team Gender, RRI

    Dr. Laurel Edmunds –  is a Senior Research Fellow working in collaboration with the NIHR Oxford BRC and relevant researchers across the University of Oxford. She is currently leading on a series of systematic reviews evaluating women in academic medicine and research efficacy in the NIHR Oxford BRC. 1. How do you understand Gender in biosciences research? Gender is of growing importance in bioscience research for two main reasons. First, women should not be disadvantaged or treated differently in the workplace just because they are women. Second, as more and more women are going into scientific careers, they are bringing new perspectives and alternative approaches. We cannot afford to lose these resources from the biosciences. 2. What are the current standards and actions to achieve better Gender in your University and in your country?  Since 2008 we have had the Athena SWAN Charter for improving gender equality in sciences in the UK. Higher education institutions sign up to the Charter and then apply for an award (either Bronze, Silver, Gold) and complete applications with supporting evidence, and submit these to the Athena SWAN organisation. Bronze requires an assessment of gender equality, a 4-year action plan and an organisational structure that can deliver the plan; Silver is awarded when a department has delivered and shown an impact from these actions; Gold these are maintained and the department supports others. Few science departments hold a gold award as they are difficult to get and keep. There is now a similar Charter …