A researcher in a lab

Women in dementia research: How Alzheimer’s Society is supporting researchers

The number of women working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is beginning to increase and the same is true in the field of dementia research. However, there’s still a long way to go before they are equally represented.

Discussions with our researchers told us that lack of work-life balance and support from research institutes are major factors contributing to women leaving research.

Crucially, we have most recently become one of the few charitable funders who provide maternity, paternity, adoption and sick pay and leave for our PhD students as well as providing guidance and support for more senior researchers.

Facts and figures

  • There are around 900,000 women in STEM occupations, according to the UK labour force survey for 2018 analysed by WISE records
  • This only makes up 22 per cent of the total STEM workforce 
  • Only 13 per cent of management roles in the STEM workforce are held by women

We are always striving to do more. At Alzheimer's Society, we believe that research funding organisations have a key role to play in keeping excellent female researchers in the field.

We are continuously evaluating our research funding schemes to remove any gender-based bias and support women in research. 

Of our 154 active research projects, 85 are led by women, representing 55 per cent of the current portfolio.

We know the majority of women with STEM qualifications do not have a career in the field, unlike their male counterparts. This means that the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics are haemorrhaging talent.

Recruiting researchers 

At Alzheimer’s Society we are working hard to attract excellent researchers like you to the dementia field and to keep them there. 

We have done this through taking part in establishing the UK Dementia Research Institute, a unique undertaking of multi-organisation collaboration. The institute is bringing together over 800 researchers to state-of-the-art facilities with the common goal of beating dementia.

We have nurtured the careers of new researchers through the success of our eight doctoral training centres. We continue to reward and support our excellent researchers through our Dementia Research Leaders programme. 

More can always be done. Research has shown that studies with at least one female contributor are more likely to tackle women’s health issues and the difference between the sexes. Plus we know dementia is an issue that disproportionately affects women.

We want to hear from you

If you have any thoughts or suggestions on how Alzheimer’s Society could better support gender balance in research, post a comment or email us directly.

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