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Women in the Workplace – KESS Seminar

5th April 2017 @ 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

The Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS) is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, formally partnering a legislative arm of government – the Northern Ireland Assembly – with academia. Aiming to encourage debate and improve understanding, KESS provides a forum to present and disseminate research findings in a straightforward format, making those findings easily accessible to decision-makers. Seminars are free and to register please email raise@niassembly.gov.uk




1.30pm – Welcome

1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks


1.45pm – Prof Joan Ballantine, Dr Graeme Banks, Prof Kathryn Haynes, Dr Melina Manochin and Mr Tony Wall (Ulster) – Gender Equality in the Northern Ireland Public Sector – a View from the Top

The highly contentious issue of gender equality with regard to executive and non-executive director positions has received considerable attention in the context of the private sector. However, substantially less is known about gender equality issues at the senior levels of the public sector, including that of NI. While the limited statistics available for NI indicate that males dominate senior positions, there is a lack of data which enable an understanding of why this is the case.  In this presentation we report on the final stage of an OFMDFM funded research project which involved 107 in-depth interviews with male and female current and aspiring executives, employed across the NI public sector. We report on the findings with respect to a number of themes including, gender culture, work life balance and promoting gender equality at senior levels. The presentation will conclude with recommendations to improve gender equality within the NI public sector.  The research is timely given the recently published draft Programme for Government Framework 2016-21, which was surprisingly silent on the issue of gender equality in the workplace


2.05pm – Dr Clem Herman, Dr Elaine Thomas and Dr Katie Chicot (OU) – Returning to STEM: interventions to support women returners after career breaks

The ratio of male to females employed in STEM-related industries in NI is 3 to 1, yet although the business case for gender equality in STEM has been well recognised in NI policy, little attention has been paid to date to the potential presented by women returning from career breaks. The persistence of normative gendered career pathways and gendered organisational cultures in STEM sectors present barriers to those who have non-linear or unconventional career trajectories. In this presentation we will showcase two new resources launched last year by The Open University (OU) – Reboot Your STEM Career and Returning to STEM – the latest in a succession of interventions by the OU to encourage and support women in their STEM careers. The resources were developed following a longitudinal research project that tracked women’s career progression over a five-year period and identified five key success strategies for returning to STEM work (foot in the door, networking, back to basics, retraining and helping hand). Case studies highlighted in the resources can be used by NI policy-makers to support women resuming and progressing their careers and interviews with STEM employers illustrate the benefits to companies of developing internships specifically aimed at returners.

2.25pm – Discussion

2.55pm – RaISe – Closing Remarks

3.00pm – Networking and Refreshments


5th April 2017
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
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Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS)


Long Gallery
Parliament Buildings, Stormont
Belfast, BT4 3XX United Kingdom
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