We know that women in academia are disproportionately affected by funding structures, academic culture and caring responsibilities whatever their discipline. We know that there is a gender disparity in Science, Technology Engineering, and Maths disciplines. We do not know why women in the chemical sciences are further marginalised. Within the chemical sciences the lack of retention and progression for women and all those with protected Equality and Diversity characteristics is pronounced.
WISC (the international Women In Supramolecular Chemistry network) was founded by a small group of academics, including Dr Jennifer Hiscock and Dr Jennifer Leigh from Kent, in order to address equality and diversity in the field. Since its launch in late 2019, WISC has created a website and resource bank, conducted a survey of the supramolecular community, initiated small group mentoring and support clusters for parents, those with disabilities/chronic illnesses/neurodivergences, and 1st Gen chemists.
WISC aspires to be an agent of change. We want the work we are engaged in to bring about actions and inspire change from others. In 1979 Audre Lorde, a self-proclaimed Black feminist, poet, and warrior, said if we want to change things, we need to do them differently. WISC has taken a creative and reflective approach to ongoing research projects to humanise the reasons why equality work is so vital. Our aim is to develop a community and increase its diversity.
We want to intervene within a space that is unfair and marginalised, and change the experiences of those entering the field, drawing on feminist and creative research practices to make sure voices are heard, and show the STEM community that interventions like this are worthwhile and necessary.
WISC are about to publish a paper in Angewandte Chemie (DOI: 10.1002/anie.202015297) and an article in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemistry World.