To recognise UN’s International Day for Women and Girls in Science, Kidney Research UK has put the spotlight on the female researchers it funds, and their achievements in tackling kidney disease.
Sandra Currie, chief executive of Kidney Research UK: “We are very proud of all of our researchers who are helping us find ways to treat, alleviate and hopefully, one day, cure kidney disease. The fact that so many of them are women, and that they may have had added obstacles to get over in their career paths makes their achievements even greater.
“We are currently exploring ways we can provide additional career development support to improve the retention of this talent in the renal sector.”
The charity also used the opportunity to highlight recommendations from the first UK Renal Research Strategy report in 2016.
In addition to measures to create and assist the next generation of researchers focused on kidney disease, the Strategy suggested flexible support for researchers returning to work after taking a career break.
Kidney UK reports that 65 per cent of early career researchers in biomedical sciences are female, but there is a huge drop off rate when they begin to consider progression to professor level.
Just one in five biomedical professor positions across the research sector currently held by women, it said.
The charity said there is a need for greater support for women across wider academia, and not just within research, after a report by the Higher Education Statistics Agency found that only 24 per cent of all academic professors in the UK are female.
Dr Claire Sharpe, a Kidney Research UK Fellow, Reader in Renal Medicine and Honorary Consultant Nephrologist at King’s College London and King’s College Hospital said: “I’m extremely proud to work with an organisation such as Kidney Research UK which supports and funds an equal measure of male and female researchers.
“For institutions, it’s about looking at the data and trying to work out why there is a gender imbalance and what you can do to address it. Practical support and mentoring would also help female scientists air the difficulties they are facing and would provide the opportunity for collaborative solutions to form, thus helping them develop their careers as much as possible.”
Below, another researcher Dr Rachel Floyd, Kidney Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool, talks in more detail about her work.