Mapping the Future Physics and Chemistry Postdoctoral Researchers’ Experiences and Career Intentions

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 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  and . This summary  report highlights the key findings and recommendations.

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