College of Life Sciences

Dr Anvesha Singh

NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in Cardiology

Did you experience any significant barriers / challenges in getting to where you are now? And if so, how did you overcome these?

Cardiology remains a very male-dominated medical speciality. Nearly all of my female friends from medical school have chosen to become GP’s or chosen less intense hospital-based specialities, which are traditionally regarded as ‘family friendly’. I personally never considered these factors when choosing my speciality, as to me, the most important factor was to enjoy the job. I have been lucky to work with some great mentors, who have encouraged me. The biggest barrier to overcome for me was my own lack of confidence in myself, and overcoming ‘Imposter Syndrome’, which still occasionally presents itself.

What are the most pivotal moments in your life and why?

From a career point of view, the most pivotal moments were getting my Cardiology training number and getting the research job with Professor McCann in Leicester, as both these events were turning points in my career. From a personal point of view, having my daughter was a life-changing experience, and one which has made me more rounded as a person, but also improved my time efficiency and prioritisation skills, without affecting my ambitions at all.

What particular qualities, skills or strengths do you have that makes you good at your role or provides good foundation for success at the workplace?

I try to keep focused on what I need to do to achieve my goals, and not dwell too much on my failures and things that are out of my control. I set deadlines for myself, and try my best to stick to them. I also think that it is important to maintain a good working relationship with all members of the multi-disciplinary team that I work with, both clinically and academically.

Do you think women face particular challenges in leadership, or are these the same as those experienced by their male colleagues?

Women face some challenges which are the same for everyone, but others which are unique to us. The biggest challenge is to overcome biases from not just men but other women as well. In addition, ‘Imposter syndrome’ seems to affect women more, and this can be a hindrance to women putting themselves forward for leadership roles. In addition, the societal pressure on women to still take a lead on the household/childcare roles, in addition to having successful careers, is another challenge, and whilst this is changing, the situation is far from ideal. If we are striving for equal opportunities for women at the workplace, then why not equal share of responsibilities at home as well?

What is one thing the university could do to help women progress professionally?

I think the University has made a good start by promoting programs such as the Aurora Leadership scheme, which I took part in, and the WLP Programme. In addition, NIHR has made the right move by linking its funding with Athena SWAN awards, making it a prime objective for the university. These schemes are a good start to put the spotlight on the issue of equal rights. I think it is important to continue the outreach activities that the university does, especially to promote STEM subjects to girls. It is also important to have more women in higher and more visible leadership roles, to encourage more women to put themselves forward… ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’.

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