The REF 2014 is the successor to the RAE 2008, the UK government-run exercise to evaluate research excellence of departments (in all fields) and then allocate research funds accordingly. This is done by having (almost) all research-active staff submit 4 pieces of work which are read and assessed by a panel of philosophers. However, in certain special cases people are allowed to submit fewer than four pieces of work. In 2008, women who had taken one period of maternity leave were allowed to submit three pieces. But under the proposed rules for 2011, even TWO periods of maternity leave would not be enough for a reduction.
You can read SWIP UK’s statement here.
The good news is that we’re still in the consultation phase. You can make your views known here. I’ve been told that it would also be good to lobby your university to make sure that they include this point in their response. So I urge you to do that as well– contact your HOD, your PVC for research, whoever is in charge of diversity issues, etc. I really think we CAN make a difference on this. Let’s do it.