If you have a suggestion, would like to join the CLES Inclusivity Committee, or would like to discuss any issues, please contact the committee.
For any queries relating to the Cornwall Campuses in Penryn and Truro more broadly, please get in touch with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor Rae Preston.
Inclusivity CLES Cornwall
Inclusivity CLES Cornwall
The College of Life and Environmental Sciences in Cornwall is committed to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for all our staff and students and we are proud to have held an Athena SWAN Silver Award since 2014, recognising the initiatives we have put in place to achieve gender equality.
We hope to capture the views, ongoing issues and ideas of the CLES Cornwall community, and particularly welcome feedback from groups who may currently be under-represented in the department.
CLES Cornwall staff members share their thoughts on inclusivity:
I am a conservation scientist and have researched chimpanzee behaviour in the wild across East and West Africa for the last 18 years. I obtained a BSc honours in Zoology from the University of Liverpool, followed by a PhD in Evolutionary Psychology from the University of Stirling. I was a postdoctoral researcher in Anthropology Departments at Oxford Brookes University and the New University of Lisbon in Portugal, and at the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University in Japan. I believe conservation science requires a cross-disciplinary approach and for conservation to be effective we must fully consider the perspectives and needs of local people that live alongside endangered wildlife.
On a personal note, I have two young children so foreign travel has recently taken a backseat. However, I am currently satisfying my love of fieldwork through regular updates from my MSc and PhD students. I have found that informally sharing photos and stories about my children with women from the Guinean villages where I work has encouraged new friendships and a talking point other than chimpanzees! However, managing a home-work balance is a challenge.
Since joining the Centre for Ecology and Conservation as a lecturer in February 2018, I have found it to be an incredibly supportive and family-friendly environment in which I have felt comfortable discussing all aspects concerning maternity and my career. Thanks to all this amazing support, I was encouraged to apply for a promotion and was subsequently promoted to senior lecturer at the end of 2019. I have often heard female students’ question whether they can hope to continue in science and have a ‘normal’ family life. The Athena Swan Charter increases awareness of women of all ages in science and helps emerging female scientists feel that they can ‘have it all’ with the right support.
I am a Sir Henry Dale Wellcome Trust and Royal Society Research fellow. I joined the university in 2016 when our first child was 6 months old. Our second child was born in 2019, and was fortunate to benefit from the Universities’ recently improved parental leave policy, getting 6 weeks of paid leave and 3 months of shared leave, at statutory rate. I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity, as due to the short-term nature of post-doc contracts in academia I was not able to take shared leave with our oldest child. However, I think the only way to level out inequalities associated with having children is for more Dads to take parental leave, and for parental leave policies to offer longer periods of paid leave for both men and women.
We know that diversity leads to a better work place and better science. If you come from an underrepresented group in academia, it is easy to feel you do not belong, and hard to find role models in senior staff. We need to break down the barriers that limit people’s ability to successfully progress in an academic career, to create a more inclusive and diverse community that will ultimately be a more exciting and productive place to work.
Back in the late 1980s, my brother and I became the first people in our immediate family to go to university. Our parents, both of whom left school at 14, were strong advocates of education in general and higher education in particular. My dad put self-improvement at the heart of everything he did. Coming to Uni for the first time with no knowledge of how higher education works or what might be expected can be pretty daunting but it is great to work for a department that believes in supporting all students to do their very best in their studies whatever their background.
I joined the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at Penryn, Cornwall, in March 2018 as a Senior Lecturer in Ecology & Conservation. I spent 12 years in self-raised post-doc and fellowship positions as an applied conservation scientist, moving between European universities (I'm German) and primarily doing field work and living on tropical islands in the Western Indian Ocean, mainly in the Seychelles.
At the start of my career I was advised against spending much time in the field doing applied conservation work if I wanted to be taken seriously as an academic but I felt that it's exactly this type of research that is desperately needed in conservation so I continued along this atypical path. Concerns about my academic career prospects were also raised in 2015, after the birth of our twin boys, when I took one year of paternity leave while my wife, an applied conservation scientist, returned to work in the Seychelles.
With the birth of our third son, I was looking for a work and family home that would allow me to continue to share my life's passions fairly between family and work and was given the opportunity to move to Cornwall and take up a permanent academic position. I'm certain that I've found the right place; the College provides an excellent and well-supported academic and teaching environment, combined with fantastic support for families, and my colleagues offer true collegiality, which is unmatched by my experience elsewhere.
I'm therefore delighted to be working at an institution that not only accepts, but actively seeks, supports and embraces staff from a diversity of backgrounds. I hope that the path that I, and that we as a family, have taken is viewed as encouragement for other researchers with family and/or an atypical academic trajectory to pursue their goals.
My first job after gaining my PhD was a shared post-doc with my partner Brendan Godley (also an academic in this department) at Swansea University where both of our children were born! I joined the University of Exeter in 2003 as a Research Fellow, when Brendan got a permanent position here at the newly established Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC).
At the time we were both offered positions at another university but chose one permanent job in Cornwall, a bit of a risk at the time but it seemed like the right place for us, working in marine conservation, somewhere we wanted to bring up our kids, and it was great to be involved in establishing a brand new department even if it was a building site for the first year!
I was employed on grants I had won for a number of years until gaining a permanent position as a lecturer in 2007. I was promoted to Professor in 2017. There is no other department I would rather work in. I love my job (most days)!
I am a Professor of Cultural Evolution in the department, having joined in 2015 as an Associate Professor. I have a slightly unusual disciplinary background for Biosciences faculty: my undergraduate degree (UCL), Masters (Liverpool) and PhD (St Andrews) were all in psychology, I’ve done postdocs in departments of archaeology (Missouri), applied ethics (UBC) and anthropology (Cambridge), and have previously held faculty positions in psychology (Queen Mary) and anthropology (Durham). This unusual path stems from my research goal of trying to understand human behaviour and human culture within an evolutionary framework; this requires a mish-mash of biology, psychology, anthropology and other traditional disciplines. I am fortunate to find myself in a department now that contains such a diversity of research interests and activities.
Personally, I am also a bit more diverse than the average British university academic. My dad grew up in Morocco and came to the UK in the early 1970s, where he met my mum who is Welsh. I grew up in Watford and went to the local comprehensive state school. I don’t think that I have faced any explicit discrimination during my academic journey, but on the other hand Moroccan-Welsh is not a typical or obvious ethnic minority like British Asian or Black British.
All of the departments I’ve been in have had faculty who are overwhelmingly white, mostly male, and often from relatively privileged backgrounds. We have a long way to go to make academia more diverse. A diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds, whether that diversity is ethnic, linguistic, socio-economic, political or socio-sexual, can bring greater intellectual diversity, and ultimately improve the research and education that we all do.
I’m based in the Energy Policy Group, a research group that’s led by women and has been since its inception, and so I’ve seen first-hand the value that diversity can have in the workplace. I’m from a relatively conservative family in the South East and neither of my parents went to university and I never expected to end up as an ‘academic’. The thing that has surprised me about academia is how I expected it to be extremely progressive, not just in the research that is done, but also in the approach to people. From a young man’s perspective, who has spent time working in the private sector, I actually think universities have a lot to learn about how to support diversity and progression and this could support the move into an increasingly competitive and changing world.
I am principally a palaeontologist, and my research so far has been predominantly concerned with the earliest fossil animals from the Cambrian Chengjiang Biota (approx. 518 million years ago) in Southwest China. However, I also work on some modern animal groups such as tardigrades, also known as “water bears”, and therefore I also consider myself to be an evolutionary biologist.
In 2005, I came to the UK to undertake my PhD at the University of Leicester and received my doctorate in 2009. For a short while I worked in the university library before securing a postdoctoral position in 2011, at the Natural History Museum, London, followed by a successful NERC Independent Research Fellowship. In 2018, I transferred my NERC fellowship to the University of Exeter, which has been one of the best decisions of my life.
As a young, female, Chinese researcher in the UK, I often acutely feel myself to be in a minority within the academic environment, which is predominantly white, mostly male and senior to myself. However, I have been really lucky that my career progress so far has not been marred by discrimination, and my colleagues have been very friendly and supportive. Since I joined the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, I was delighted to discover that many of my colleagues are at a similar career and life stage, with many female academic researchers in the department, along with a generally very friendly and open-minded environment.
On a personal note, my family and I really enjoy our life in Cornwall, particularly the stunning coastal scenery. My husband and I moved here when our daughter had just turned one year old, and it has been a great place for her to grow up. We particularly appreciate the little nursery situated right inside campus and the department has been very supportive to staff with childcare duties. The Parents and Carers Network has been super helpful, and so too has a group of colleagues with young kids who regularly share information and advice.
CLES Inclusion Leads
Each department has an Inclusion Lead who is a first point of contact for inclusion issues and attends the termly University Inclusion meeting. Meet the Inclusion Leads here.
Speak Out Guardians
The Speak Out Guardians are independent from any department. They are able to listen to employee concerns, identify trends or themes and enable confidentiality at all times.
Spectrum Life: Free 24/7 counselling for staff
Spectrum Life - a confidential counselling and support service for the University of Exeter. All staff and postgraduate students can access up to 6 free sessions of telephone or face-to-face counselling.
Report an incident: Exeter Speaks Out
The University of Exeter is an inclusive community, where everyone has the right to be treated with respect. Harassment, bullying, intimidation and discrimination (for example racism, homophobia, sexual discrimination) go against all we stand for and will not be tolerated. If you've experienced or witnessed any of the above we encourage you to report it and to get the support you might need.
Dignity and Respect Advisors
Dignity and Respect Advisors are members of staff from across the University who are trained to provide a confidential and informal service for anyone involved in cases of harassment or bullying (including those facing allegations about their behaviour).
The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team
The EDI team provide professional advice, guidance and the tools to enable everyone working or studying at Exeter to take individual responsibility and help create an inclusive community. Contact the EDI team here.
Groups and networks
- Equality groups
- Inclusion groups
- Networks for staff and students - including the BME network, Parents and Carers networks, Disability network and LGBTQ+ networks
- Training in Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity – including cultural competence, training for teaching staff, leadership and mandatory training
- Mentoring schemes
- Exeter Academic - training and development for academics
- Leadership development
- Navigator - men's development programme
- Springboard - women's development programme
- Researcher Development and Research Culture
The CLES Cornwall Inclusivity Committee has a membership that represents students (undergraduate and postgraduate) and staff (Professional Services, Research, Education and Scholarship and Education and Research)
We are proud to have held an Athena SWAN Silver Award since 2014, and are committed to further work to overcome obstacles in the way of female scientists progressing into successful academic careers.
A collaborative project between The Student’s Union, Her Campus and The Falmouth Anchor, Voices is a platform for students whose voices might previously have been lost in the noise. Each volume covers a different theme, including race, faith, LGBTQ+, community and gender.