Can We Get Beyond Quotas?

Once again I am returning to Athene Donald’s blog to highlight an interesting post about quotas:

‘Some women get asked to do many different things, to serve on a wide variety of committees some of which may wield genuine power and influence. These individuals are what one might term the ‘usual suspects’……………….What matters, though, is the next tier of individuals. As yet less visible, without quite the same blend of confidence and experience, these are the ones whom Vice Chancellors and head hunters should be thinking about, those who are ready for that tap on the shoulder which may nevertheless never come………………..’

Are you waiting for that chance to be noticed?  Or are you experiencing committee fatigue?



How are UK universities getting involved in HeForShe?

Gemma Tracey, Senior Policy Advisor at the Equality Challenge Unit has posted an article about the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign. UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Both the University of Leicester and Oxford University are inolved in a pilot initiative to ‘drive change from the top.’

‘In 2014 UN Women launched HeForShe – their solidarity movement for gender equality – with the aim of “bring[ing] together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity, for the benefit of all.” The high profile launch by British actor Emma Watson encouraged men to pledge their commitment to HeForShe.’


Why so Few (Still)?

On 18th September Athene Donald (Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge) published a blog post about the number of female scientists, and also perceptions about science.

‘If you ask a kid to draw a scientist, very often they will draw a ‘mad’ scientist with sticking up hair in a white lab coat, probably holding a test tube containing some evil-looking smoking liquid: an amalgam of Einstein and Frankenstein. Oh yes, and they’ll be male. Perceptions about this really don’t seem to be changing very fast……….’

What more could or should we be doing?



Go Home on Time Day

I am a day late in posting about this but the idea is a good one – Go Home on Time Day.  The 23rd September 2015 was Go Home on Time Day.  This is an annual event and has been successful in raising awareness of issues surrounding work-life balance.  Rather than just being an annual event should we be aiming to go home on time on a monthly or weekly basis, or arguably every day!

This is something I am going to aim for…….



How will I know (if we have succeeded)

Jenny Martin (Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Queensland) has posted on her blog (cubistcrystal) about  the launch of the Science in Australia Gender Equality (SAGE) pilot of Athena SWAN. (Another use of SAGE!)  Jenny discusses how how she (everyone) will know when they have succeeded:

  • when 50% of professors and vice chancellors in Australia are women
  • when 50% of Australian scientists taking extended parental leave or working flexibly are men
  • when 50% of grants and fellowships in Australia are awarded to women
  • when 50% of invited speakers at 100% of conferences in Australia are women
  • when 100% of women scientists are paid 100% of the salaries earned by men with equivalent loads/role
  • when 0% of Australian STEMM professionals experience workplace sexism, racism, intimidation, harassment, or bullying
  • when the alpha-male model of success is the exception not the rule

If you replace ‘Australia’ with ‘UK’ you could argue the same applies here. How close are we?



Life Tools 2015-16

Life Tools 2015 – 2016. Who are the Talks for?

The Life Tools talks are for any member of the University community who would like to attend: foundation students, undergraduates, postgrads, home and international students, members of staff – all are welcome to attend. This year’s programme offers a variety of subjects designed to enable you to:

– manage your academic demands effectively;

– improve your resilience when life becomes challenging;

– enhance your personal wellbeing.

Who will be giving the talk?

All our talks are given by experienced University staff who work in Student Wellbeing. They have expertise in personal development and their talks are designed to help you achieve your potential and increase your knowledge base.

How will the session run?
The speaker will give a presentation for about 30 – 45 minutes. This will be followed by a chance to ask questions. Copies of material from the presentations are handed out and if you wish to find out more about the topic you can speak with the tutor after the talk. Information from the talks will also be available on our Blackboard site.

How many people can attend the talks?

There is plenty of space, so all are welcome!

Do I have to book?

There is no need to book for the talks, just turn up at the location specified next to each talk. Most of the talks are in the Carrington or Palmer buildings.

Is there a charge?

There is no charge for attendance.

How can I find out about forthcoming talks?

You can check the programme for this term here, or pick up a copy of the Life Tools leaflet. These can be obtained from the Carrington building, room 106, first floor and are also widely available throughout the University.


Staff Mindfulness Course

Do you feel stressed, anxious, worried? Why not try Mindfulness?

The Chaplaincy Centre is playing host to an 8 week “MINDFULNESS FOR STRESS REDUCTION” course that starts on Monday 13th October: 5.15-7.30pm at the Chaplaincy Centre, Whiteknights. FREE OF CHARGE.

Mindfulness has been clinically proven to relieve the symptoms of stress and anxiety. The course will be an introduction to Mindfulness using simple but powerful techniques which participants will build into their daily lives. This will help break unhelpful cycles of stress, worry and exhaustion and promote resilience and happiness. The course will include some meditations and exercises to be practised at home during the week – this is an essential part of the course.

The course is run by Kate Moberly and Jonathan Barker as part of the final part of their training as mindfulness teachers. The course is free but all participants will be expected to buy the course book (approximately £12) before the course starts. To reserve a place and for more information about the course please email: or


Simplified Tai Chi session – an opportunity to relax and unwind

Sabine Schwartz (from the Chaplaincy Centre) is going to run a simplified Tai Chi session for SAGES staff and students from 1:00 – 1:50 in the Sorby Room this Thursday (17th September). This session will involve breathing exercises and slow arm movements. It is a great opportunity for staff and students to relax, unwind, and potentially learn some relaxation skills for the future. Everyone is welcome and this is a free event. Booking is essential so please email me ( if you would like to book a place or know more.

Tai Chi

UUK president Julia Goodfellow aims to ‘keep sector together’

Dame Julia Goodfellow (Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent) has been appointed the new President of Universities UK.  An interview with Julia was published on the 8th September in the Times Higher.

Dame Julia Goodfellow

Dame Julia Goodfellow










Since UUK was established in 1918, under its former name of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom, it had only ever had male presidents until Dame Julia took up her post. Expanding on the question of why it took so long for a woman to become president, Dame Julia noted that there are “relatively few female vice-chancellors” and that just a fifth of UK professors are women.  “It takes time for that leaky pipeline to come through. But it’s only been 100 years,” she joked.  She continued: “I just think it’s sad that in the 21st century we’re still talking about being the first woman to do a job.” Dame Julia added that “making sure that women can progress through university life and through their career structure is obviously important to me personally – it is at Kent – and I think it is for universities generally”.

Follow this link to read the full article – UUK President

10 habits for a successful postdoc

Published in the Times Higher on 9th September, Catherine L Drennan (Professor of Chemistry and Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) discusses the 10 must-dos for a successful postdoc.

Tip number 1:

‘Take ownership of your project – Your project is your baby. There will be loss of sleep, and growing pains, but you will have a special bond. You should know more about your project than anyone else. Get the help you need. Take full advantage of group meetings, faculty, others in the lab. Being a postdoc doesn’t mean that you should know everything.’













Follow the link to read more – Top 10 must-dos

Do you have any more top tips?