Mapping the Future Physics and Chemistry Postdoctoral Researchers’ Experiences and Career Intentions
The Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) jointly initiated a project, in conjunction with the IOP’s Women in Physics Group (WiPG), which was part-funded by the UKRC’s Innovative and Collaborative Grants Scheme (IGCS), to investigate the experiences of postdoctoral researchers (PDRs). The project was designed to build upon previous work by the RSC on the experiences and career intentions of chemistry PhD students, which found that the proportion of females planning a research career in chemistry fell dramatically during the course of their PhD studies, while the proportion of males stayed the same. In contrast, follow-up work by the RSC and the Biochemical Society showed that in molecular biosciences the proportions of men and women intending to pursue a research career remained essentially the same throughout their PhD studies. To investigate how the experiences of male and female postdoctoral physics and chemistry researchers affected their long-term career intentions and whether their experiences were different, the IOP and the RSC, with WiPG, initiated a survey of PDRs in the two disciplines. An electronic survey was distributed to UK chemistry and physics departments and a total of 776 responses (370 physics, 376 chemistry and 30 unspecified) were received. A detailed analysis of the survey data, which was carried out by Sean McWhinnie of Oxford Research and Policy, has been produced in a full report and is available at www.iop.org/diversity and www.rsc.org . This summary report highlights the key findings and recommendations.