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Research Software Engineer Career Pathways - June 2021 Event Summary And Society Next Steps

Paul Richmond; Claire Wyatt; Teri Forey; Marion Weinzierl

On the 17th June 2021 the Research Software Engineering (RSE) Society held an RSE Careers Pathway event which attracted over 200 registrations. Research Software Engineers (RSEs) come from a diverse set of backgrounds and career stages. The Society of Research Software Engineering (RSE) provides an inclusive community for all who identify with the objective of “furthering RSE practice for the benefit of society”. There have been some great successes because of the RSE community, e.g. RSE fellowship, the emergence of RSE groups and international recognition of the role of RSEs. Despite the success, our community has reflected that opportunities for RSE professionals do not offer the same levels of reward and recognition as for research only focused roles.  The RSE Careers Pathway event aims to explore and expose some of the boundaries to career progression which impact on the diverse yet talented community of RSEs within the UK.

The event included presentations on the Research Concordat (Sarah King & Ellen Meek) and the Technician Commitment (Simon Breeden) as well as presentations from RSEs in the community at a range of careers stages, including junior RSEs. UKRI is a signatory and key stakeholder in the Researcher Development Concordat (the concordat) and the Technician Commitment (the TC) which set out a series of principles and obligations to be followed by research institutions in supporting talent development. It was anticipated prior to the event that some parts of our community may align to these initiatives while others may not. The event provided an opportunity to explore where these initiatives may help or hinder RSE career progression, discuss the limitations of fixed university job families, identify gaps which existing initiatives do not address, and offer an opportunity to explore broader factors which affect recognition and reward.

The outcomes of the event aimed to;

  • Shape the Society strategy around engagement with UKRI and other stakeholders

  • Ensure that UKRI understand the communities barriers to career progression

  • Highlight career progression challenges to RSE leaders so that they can provide better opportunities

  • Provide a safe space to share and exchange ideas with colleagues

This document provides an executive summary of the event, describes the key themes from each activity within the event as well as notes and responses to questions raised to the panel.

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