As a research technician, I am thrilled to be sitting on the panel to represent the technical staff community. I have seen the positive impact Athena SWAN has already had in the department and I am delighted that technical staff data will now be included in future applications. I feel that the gender inequalities and opportunities for technical staff are very much an extension of the issue we are already tackling in academia. My personal view is that we are all part of a team with our own key roles to play in striving to achieve great research. Athena SWAN is about changing attitudes in the workplace and with the positive changes seen with gender equality, I am keen that through Athena SWAN we can improve the workplace for everyone.
Since February 2013 I have worked as a full-time Research Technician in microbiology running the experiments and managing Health and Safety. When I was hired I was five months pregnant and now I am a mother of a two-year-old daughter that can balance work and private life. That is something that would be much more difficult if not for the Athena SWAN philosophy around and, sometimes, I feel requires me to give back. Working in academia often requires personal sacrifices and I think that if the University takes some load off staff and students, thanks to well-placed Athena SWAN initiatives, it will benefit from it. The plan is to build on the success of the previous panels and use the enthusiasm for the Athena SWAN related initiatives that is around. As technicians are often a link between all the imaginable positions around, from professional services to professors.
I am delighted to be a member of the self-assessment team for the College of Life and Environmental Sciences (Cornwall) Silver application. I became Head of Department in August 2014 but started my teaching career here a decade ago when the campus first opened. I have carefully observed the inception and subsequent mainstreaming of our Athena SWAN process and the profound positive changes that have resulted since our Bronze award in 2012.
I am Vice Chair of the Athena Swan panel in CLES Penryn, having joined relatively recently in 2015. Since joining the Biosciences department as a lecturer over 6 years ago, I have observed first-hand the positive changes that the Athena Swan initiatives have brought about for both staff and students. This has been particularly relevant to me, as I recently returned to work part time after a period of maternity leave, a transition has been surprisingly easy, largely due to the support I have received while adjusting to my new role as a working mother. Looking to the future, I am particularly excited about working with our undergraduate students as I believe that keeping underrepresented groups in academia requires a positive and inspirational message early in their academic career.
I joined the Athena Swan panel at the start of 2017 as the Early Career Researcher (ECR) representative. I am passionate about helping to make an inclusive and diverse working environment that supports staff and students. I recently returned to work part time after maternity leave and the Athena Swan initiative has helped me to balance my career alongside my caring responsibilities. I look forward to helping maintain the momentum of positive change in gender equality and diversity in our workplace.
Catherine Leyshon is a cultural geographer with interests in landscape, place, identity, climate change, volunteering, and community resilience. With twenty years of experience working in higher education, I have seen many positive changes to the working environment for women and men alike. I am committed to extending the principles of Athena SWAN to all who work in CLES Cornwall, and I am particularly concerned to build on the successes of structural and instrumental changes to shifting the cultures of working.
I've been a part of CLES Cornwall since 2007 as a PhD student, and now a research fellow. As a member of the Athena SWAN panel, I bring the perspective of someone who has progressed from being a student to staff within CLES and is at the early stages of their research career. As a parent of twin toddlers, I have different expectations from colleagues with grown-up children and I am aware that sometimes early staff careers cannot thrive unless the working culture integrates the reality of dual career partnerships. The CLES commitment towards equality and diversity, progression of students into academia, support provided during the journey through career milestones and the overall working environment that is both considerate and nurturing has made me feel very comfortable with my full-time job and busy parenting life.
As a relatively new lecturer in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences I’m pleased to have the opportunity to join the Athena SWAN panel. I believe positive change is essential to inspire and develop a wide diversity of future scientists, and in particular to support early career researchers. I am encouraged by the wide range of staff who are committed to creating a supportive and fair working environment in CLES Cornwall, and I look forward to contributing to the panel’s future initiatives.
Frank van Veen
Following our silver award, I have taken on the role of Athena SWAN Champion. I have always been passionate about promoting equality and diversity in the work place and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to contribute in this way. I still remember clearly how my announcement, as a young post doc, that my wife was pregnant was met with expressions of sorrow that a young scientist would commit academic career suicide like this. Things have definitely improved significantly since then and not least because of the awareness that has been raised by the Athena SWAN charter. It is my firm belief that to solve the problem of gender inequality, we need to look critically at all our processes, in every aspect of our work, and if we get this right we will not only improve gender equality, but equality across all dimensions of diversity.
I began promoting Athena SWAN in the Department early on being part of the Athena SWAN University Bronze Award in 2011 and continue to be heavily involved in Athena SWAN initiatives across the University. Having worked at the Cornwall Campus since its inception, I have seen a huge change in the attitudes of our staff and students. Flexible working, work-life balance, transparent promotional procedures, raising awareness and an end to the ‘old boy’s network’ have given me confidence that our Department is doing its utmost to encourage scientists from across our society to be integral to the success of our Department.
I am the Student Engagement, Widening Participation and Internationalisation Coordinator for CLES Cornwall and a recent BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology graduate. I was first made aware of the Athena SWAN initiative as an undergraduate so I am excited to now be sitting on the panel. The more I learn about Athena SWAN, and the important changes it is bringing about in the department, the more inspired I am to pursue a career in science and I hope that as part of the panel I will play a part in bringing about new initiatives to inspire and encourage our female undergraduates.