The Athena Forum has launched its Signposting Career Paths for Post Doctoral Researchers guide and bookmark at the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The initiative is championed by two female Vice Chancellors – Professor Alison Richard of the Universities of Cambridge and Professor Shirley Pearce of Loughborough University.

The aim of the guide is to respond to the two most frequently heard comments from women at the postdoctoral level, by providing accessible, useful and practical advice for individuals starting their careers:

  • post doctoral researchers... “individual staff are friendly, helpful, and willing to give advice, but you have to ask them, and you need to know the questions to ask,” and
  • their senior colleagues... “it would have been different had I known ten years ago what I know now/have learnt the hard way.”

Universities and their science, technology, engineering, medical and mathematics (STEMM) departments, and learned and professional societies are encouraged to publicise the guide to their early career staff.

The bookmark encourages postdocs to answer ten crucial questions about their career aspirations and practical issues that might affect their progress. It is designed to be customised for individual organisations. The front face of the bookmark is available on the Forum website in a format ready for printing. The obverse can be used by organisations to publicise the activities and support that they provide for postdoctoral researchers.

Professor Steve Rothberg, Dean of Engineering at Loughborough University, said:

"Research staff in the STEMM disciplines will play huge roles in delivering economic recovery and future prosperity to the UK. Among them are the academic and business leaders of tomorrow. Over the last three years we have significantly increased our efforts in support of their career development with a range of targeted initiatives including dedicated careers and professional development support and we are delighted to be championing this vital initiative from the Athena Forum with its special focus on women scientists and engineers."

Notes for editors

  1. The Athena Forum’s mission is to provide a strategic oversight of developments that seek to, or have proven to, advance the career progression and representation of women in STEMM in UK higher education. The Forum explores gaps and challenges, and identifies and commends national and international excellence in supporting women in science. Forum members are nominated by the UK’s leading scientific professional and learned societies. The Forum is one of the legacy organisations who continue to build on the achievements of the Athena Project. See
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: Jane Sutton