A poster about Rosalind Franklin's life received the first Athena SWAN poster prize during the poster presentations session for year 1 students, as part of their problem-based learning activities for Chemical Principles module. This prize helps undergraduate students to familiarise themselves with the department's commitment towards gender equality.
Naomi Robertson attended the 3rd annual Joliot-Curie Conference that was dedicated to addressing barriers to career progression, and to support diversity, in the chemical sciences.
Naomi said: “The conference was timely and focussed my mind on the next steps of my career. The talks and workshops were very inspiring and full of useful practical advice. This would be a fantastic conference to attend for early stage researchers beginning to think about their careers, or those coming back after a career break”.
Dr. Barbara Villa Marcos organised a Fellowship Writing workshop for the Research Staff in the College of Science & Engineering. The workshop involved the following presentations:
- Support offer by the RSO: Brian Berry (RSO, Pre-Award Support)
- Experiences on applying and being successful: Dr. Tiffany Barry (Geology, NERC Postdoc fellow); Dr. Jonathan Nichols (Physics, Science and Technology Facilities CNL, Early Career fellow); Dr. Sarah Johnson (Geography, Knowledge Exchange NERC fellow)
- Advice from the point of view of a panel member: Prof. Jingzhe Pan (Engineering)
The workshop was well-attended by Research Staff from all departments in the College and very positive feedback was received.
The Chemistry Department celebrated Eid with a fusion of cuisines from around the world: everyone brought their favourite dish and we shared food and laughter during lunch. It is fair to say that not many of us had dinner that day!
The Departmental Athena Swan event was held on Wednesday 24th immediately prior to the staff meeting in order to maxim awareness and attendance. The meeting was well attended by a good cross section of the Department (34 people); academic staff (18), technical and support staff (6), postdoctoral researchers (5) and postgraduate students (5) were all well represented. The overall gender balance of attendees was 60% male and 40% female perhaps indicating a growing awareness and interest from male members of the Department.
The event was introduced by Professor Emma Raven, HoD for Chemistry, and following that a short presentation was given by the organizer of this event and chair of the self-assessment team for the Department of Chemistry, Dr Alison Stuart, on the context of the event and summarizing the strategy of the Department for achieving an Athena Swan Silver award. This was followed by a presentation from Dr Kate Williams, chair of the self-assessment team for the Department of Health Sciences (College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology), on some of the challenges faced and strategies adopted during their recent application for an Athena Swan silver award. The remainder of the meeting time was devoted to group discussions on several tables. The members of each table were organized according to staff category in order to best facilitate discussion around some key discussion points including career progression/appraisal, communication and work-life balance.
Some of the important outcomes of those discussions are shown below and will be discussed at the next Athena Swan committee meeting on Wednesday 8th July.
- Improvements necessary in career planning and appraisal for postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate students.
- A more inclusive approach should be adopted to staff communication and Departmental operational issues.
- Positive reinforcement of good work and achievement at all levels would be motivational.
- An improved culture of communication could be achieved by adopting communal tea/coffee times and reducing reliance on e-communication.
- Improvements in mentoring and appraisal would be beneficial for early career academic staff.
- Improvements in work-life balance could be achieved by more organized working from home, inclusive social events, better coordination of meeting times and advanced notification via the almanac.
- The workload model seems to have received a positive response but could be improved by fine tuning to include more activities generally encountered by staff.
The discussions were summarised briefly at the end by Professor Paul Cullis who closed the meeting.
On 28th April, a half-day event entitled “Job Hunting and Interview Skills” was run in the Chemistry Department for postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The event was run by Martin Coffey from the Leicester Learning Institute. It focuses how to make an effective job application; how to optimise the performance at interviews, assessment centres and other similar processes. 14 people attended this session and rated it as “useful” or “very useful”.
The Athena Swan Charter merged with the Gender Equality Charter Mark (GEM) in April 2015.
The Athena Swan charter recognises commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM). The GEM scheme has a similar aim to address inequalities and imbalance in the arts, humanities and social science. These two schemes merged to form one Athena Swan charter covering both STEMM subjects and the arts humanities and social sciences.
The Inspirational Women at Leicester Awards ceremony took place on March 11. The event was introduced by Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor and the awards presented by Professor Henrietta O’Connor. Finalists include Dr. Turi King, who led the international team that carried out the DNA analysis on the remains of King Richard III, confirming that DNA from the skeleton matched two of the descendants of Richard III's family.
A photo gallery of the 12 finalists, including their biographies, can be found here.