GES WORK STORIES

Angela Last (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)

My background

I am an interdisciplinary researcher with a background in Art & Design and Geography. After completing my PhD at the Open University in 2010, I briefly taught science communication at UCL before starting an ESRC postdoc at the same institution. I then became an associate lecturer on the Art & Science MA at Central Saint Martins. I started a three-year postdoc at Glasgow in 2013.

Being a woman in higher education

Geography is considered a very male dominated subject, but I think there are issues with sexism, especially in terms of assumed capabilities of different genders, in academia overall. One example is blind peer review, where authors are often still referred to as ‘he’ (especially in the case of theoretical papers), despite several decades of guidelines that promote gender-neutral descriptions. I think it makes a big difference to have a good gender balance in a school, and at all levels. Regarding my own path, I have been fortunate to have good male and female mentors who have themselves been guided by a feminist sensibility and approach.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me

I feel that the scheme has good and bad sides. I am involved with the Self Assessment Team (SAT) and, on the one hand, the scheme has added a lot more meetings and admin to my timetable. It might be an idea to redesign the scheme to not further disadvantage female academics and those who are interested in supporting them. On the other hand, it has been good to see that there is national and local support for increasing the gender balance in academia. It was also interesting to gain an insight into the administration of a socio-cultural problem, especially in comparison with my involvement in anti-racism activism, where such administrative solutions are in their infancy (the Race Equality Charter is just being trialled).

Cheryl McGeachan (Lecturer)

My background

I came to the University of Glasgow in 2001 to begin my undergraduate degree in Geography and Scottish Literature where my interests into ideas around psychiatry, trauma and mental ill-health were awakened. Interested in exploring the ideas of Scottish mental ill-health further, I then undertook the MRes in Human Geography and PhD (ESRC-funded) in the School. My PhD research examined the geographical biography of Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing and the many worlds of mental ill-health. Since my PhD, I have worked as a University Teacher and was recently appointed as a Lecturer in 2015. I see my teaching and research as inextricably linked, especially through my Honours Option entitled Historical Geographies of Care, Conflict and Confinement.

Being a woman in higher education

Despite not leaving the University of Glasgow, my career has taken a number of unexpected directions. Taking the University Teacher post enabled me to explore a variety of new terrains in my teaching and scholarship. As a University Teacher, I was introduced to a number of influential women scholars in Learning & Teaching who encouraged me to develop my leadership qualities and gave me the confidence to take on key challenges, such as developing and convening the Geography Summer School (with Dr Larissa Naylor). In my new position as a Lecturer in Human Geography, I feel the relationships formed with the School and wider university are central to my own development. Within GES there are a number of women in senior positions and I find this is inspiring and encouraging.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me.

The awareness of support and provision available to develop careers has been an invaluable part of the Athena Swan action in GES. A number of key events have highlighted the importance of sharing knowledge surrounding issues of mentorship, promotions and work/life balance. The supportive atmosphere promoted in GES by the Athena Swan activities has improved my confidence as an early-career scholar and has made me aware of a range of provision that I can access to develop my career. Importantly, however, it has also strengthened my network of support within the university and has inspired me to make more contact with my peers.

Emma Laurie (University Teacher)

My Background

I was awarded my PhD, entitled ‘The Embodied Politics of Health in Dar es Salaam’, in December 2014. In the final year of my PhD, I became a part-time Teaching Assistant in GES, and continued in this position after I was awarded my PhD.  In November 2015, I was appointed as University Teacher in a full time capacity.

Being a woman in Higher Education

I am very much in the infancy of my career and undoubtedly incredibly lucky to be in academia at a time when gendered attitudes are changed, changing, or, at the very least, able to be challenged. Nonetheless, one of the biggest challenges is retention of PGRs in the HEI sector, particularly, female PGRs, and this relates to the precarious working environment inherent in contemporary academia.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me

I feel Athena Swan has crafted a platform for far more honest conversations to take place regarding academia as a place of work (regardless of gendered identities).  While many of the most problematic elements of academic work are systemic, which limits the change that any single collective can have, the very fact it continues to foster a more open environment to discuss concerns, frustrations, or anxieties associated with pursuing an academic career is helpful. Such openness is supporting a more collegial environment in which to work.

Hayden Lorimer (Professor)

My Background

I am a parent. My son will soon transfer from primary to secondary school. I commute some distance to work, and so have to juggle personal and professional responsibilities between times and places. I have been a member of academic staff in Geographical and Earth Sciences at University of Glasgow for 13 years. I began as a Lecturer in Human Geography and via promotion at different points, assumed my current position as Professor of Cultural Geography in 2014. Prior to Glasgow, I spent five years at University of Aberdeen as a Lecturer in Human Geography. Before that, I held my first post-doctoral position as a teaching assistant in Geography at University of Birmingham.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me

Athena Swan in GES has strengthened and sharpened my awareness of a range of employment and career development issues, affecting staff (academic; professional) and students, at all levels. My involvement in our self-assessment team activities has enabled me to understand some of the challenges we face in the higher education sector, re-shaping workplace practices and systems so that they are more flexible and responsive to changing personal circumstances for women and men, parents and carers, male and female students. It has also been encouraging to see the ways in which fairly straightforward actions (such as the targeted provision of issue-based workshops) can address particular concerns or identified needs, and in the process engender wider support for Athena Swan activities.

 

 

Jo Sharp (Professor)

My background

I came to the University of Glasgow as a lecturer in January 1995 after I had completed my PhD at Syracuse University in the US in December 1994.  I have been at Glasgow ever since, and have seen some significant changes in the department over the last 21 years (including the name: Geography and Topographic Science; Geography and Geomatics; Geographical and Earth Sciences…I’m sure I’ve missed one!).  I got promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2002, and to Professor of Geography in 2011.

Being a woman in higher education

The University of Glasgow was a very traditional, even conservative, institution when I joined, at least the parts I moved in were. I was introduced to the Honours field class shortly after I arrived in Glasgow as, “a good little girl who’s joined the department”.  There was a highly patriarchal atmosphere at the time – part of that might have been due to my age (I’d only just turned 25 when I started) but I do think my gender was the main reason.  I don’t remember facing misogyny but there were numerous instances of everyday or institutionalised sexism: when I asked about dealing with gender issues at a compulsory new lecturer training session I was told to avoid having sex with my students; much staffroom chat was dominated by football and exam boards were rearranged one year to avoid World Cup match times; department socialising was most often held in a pub that female colleagues found uncomfortable; I was asked more than once about my intentions regarding a family etc etc.  In the context of the department, I don’t think this was intended to be exclusionary, it was just something that wasn’t ever reflected upon, perhaps because the gender balance was so skewed.  I don’t mind talking about football or drinking beer; but diversity would have been nice.

I have not had children and so have not faced some of the workplace challenges associated with this.  However, this itself raised issues.  As more of my colleagues started to have their own families, and wanted to protect time for childcare, I felt that there was sometimes the assumption that my non-work time was somehow less valuable and so that I should be more available for work events outside of the usual hours. On the whole, however, things have changed for the better.  In large part, I think this is due to the department diversifying – we have a larger percentage of female staff members and, importantly, at all stages of career.  We have a greater range of family types and working arrangements and this has led to a greater range of expectations/experiences/interactions between staff.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me.

I think Athena Swan has helped to bring certain discussions about the issues outlined above to the fore.  At times this has been difficult, but ensuring these issues are out in the open and being discussed is a good thing and I hope it will help support early career colleagues find their way through an academic job.

I think Athena Swan has also helped to support diversity in colleagues’ working practices. I have definitely benefitted from it. In 2015 I decided I wanted to make changes to my work-life balance and with support from Maggie Cusack, then Head of School, my contract was changed to part-time.  I intend to continue leadership roles within this position and see it as indicative of the greater responsiveness to diversity by GES.

John MacDonald (Lecturer)

My background 

After graduating with a 1st class BSc honours degree in Earth Science from the University of Glasgow, I studied for a PhD at the University of Liverpool on the chemistry of ancient rocks in NW Scotland. I was then a postdoctoral research associate at Imperial College London for 2 years, investigating the potential for using novel geochemical methods to understand the thermal histories of oil reservoirs. I joined GES as a Lecturer in Earth Science after this in March 2015.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me

I first became aware of Athena Swan during my postdoc when I was asked by the SAT to chair an open-floor discussion on career progression for postdocs. I was already aware that this level in the academic ladder could be particularly challenging in terms of career progression. The constant worry about finding the next short-term postdoc position can also have an effect on physical and mental wellbeing. This event made me aware that through Athena Swan, HEAs are moving to deal with these pressure points and make the workplace as accommodating as possible for all. I became part of the GES SAT soon after joining the School. Participation in this committee has broadened my awareness of the issues affecting work-life balance for all University staff.

Kathryn Schoenrock (Post Doctoral Researcher Assistant)

My background

I am a Phycologist working at the GES, University of Glasgow on a paleoclimate project with Dr. Nick Kamenos. I am originally from Half Moon Bay, CA and did my undergraduate in Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I worked extensively on tropical and temperate reefs as a research assistant, diver, and boat operator in Midway Atoll, Kenyan reefs, California kelp forests, and the Puget Sound, before attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham for my Masters and PhD. My research focus is the ecology and physiology of Antarctic macroalgae, now polar macroalgae, especially the calcifying red algae.

Being a woman in higher education

As a woman I have benefitted from past generations efforts to create equal opportunity for women in the academic workplace. Within my PhD and postdoctoral research I have found the academic community to be mostly supportive of my research activities with little emphasis on my gender in any situation. I use SCUBA and small boats in my field work in very remote polar environments and this is possible because the women before me have proven there is no gender bias towards being mechanically inclined (e.g. marine biologist Sylvia Earle). However, I have experienced discrimination and harassment, ranging from sexual innuendos to physical attacks from fellow scientists throughout my research career (although these have not happened during my time at GES)..

Overall, I find that academia is now working towards equal opportunities, but there remains a bias concerning what a woman can and cannot do in research. I hope to fight this bias and help establish the conditions that will allow future generations of female researchers to execute their work without obstruction.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me

I am happy to have joined Athena SWAN as the chair of the seminar organisation committee in 2015, and look forward to contributing to the actions that will help eliminate any gender bias in GES.

Larissa Naylor (Lecturer)

My background

My career history has been quite like a patchwork quilt where I have woven in and out of academia to work as a specialist environmental scientist (geomorphologist), alongside my husband’s career as an academic. This has taken me from a D. Phil at Oxford to a NERC Research Fellowship at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia to Environmental Consultancy and the Environment Agency, before returning to academia in 2007 as a research, teaching and administrative fellow at the University of Exeter. In 2014 I gained my first lecturing position at the University of Glasgow and in 2015 commenced a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship.

Being a women in higher education

As I have moved in and out of academia to enable myself and my husband to both have academic careers, I have experienced some of the challenges faced by academics who do not follow the ‘clear cut, traditional model’. The Athena Swan initiative has been great at addressing some of these challenges, but there is still more that can be done. I have been fortunate to be part of some innovations designed to help women scientists succeed: I job-share an associate editor role on a leading journal in my field with another female academic. This was new for the journal and the publisher, but is working extremely well for the journal and has given me a crucial indicator of esteem at this stage of my career and while working part-time.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a different to me

I have found GES and the University of Glasgow an excellent place to work and to launch my lecturing career so far. GES has been exceptionally flexible and accommodating with part-time working arrangements for myself. It was great to be in such a supportive workplace when agreeing the flexible working arrangements. This culture of flexibility and willingness around the ‘work and life juggle’ makes GES and University of Glasgow a great environment to work in.

Maggie Cusack (Professor)

My background

I completed my PhD in Protein Biochemistry at Liverpool University, studying the sweetest substance known – a non-fattening protein, also safe for diabetics and does not rot your teeth. I was then attracted to a NERC project on protein involvement in biomineral formation. With so many interesting aspects of biomineralisation I decided to make this the focus of my research and subsequently secured a Royal Society Fellowship before taking up a lectureship in GES. In 2007, I was promoted to Professor of Biomineralisation and became the first and only woman to receive the Saltire award.  I was Head of School from 2011-2015.

Being a women in higher education

I’ve always wanted to ‘have it all’ – a family as well as a challenging career that I would enjoy. Although this means a big workload it is one that I believe is achievable. I think that science and academia bring their own particular challenges to ‘having it all’.  On top of what would be considered a normal working day in other careers, there are numerous other commitments that academics do to support their subject and their research group. There is also the matter of invitations to present my research work, collaborate with like-minded research colleagues both within the UK and abroad and carry out experiments at designated research centres, e.g. Swiss Light Source. All this means being away from home for days and sometimes weeks. Importantly, all this doesn’t happen on its own and I have been truly fortunate to have a family that has been incredibly supportive and has always held the fort while I travel. Over the years we have had lots of friendly visits from academic international collaborators and I hadn’t really anticipated that this would enrich my children and they would also enjoy seeing me thrive in my career, but this is what has happened.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me.

When I was Head of School, I introduced Athena SWAN to GES since I thought that it was important for us, as a group of colleagues, to take stock and reflect on our processes. I was heavily involved in our application for our Bronze award. Although it requires a significant amount of work to amass the data, it does uncover patterns that might otherwise go unseen.

There are many benefits to having Athena Swan in GES, and some of these are profiled on this website, but one that delights me, is the way in which Athena SWAN has opened up so many conversations across academia. Many of these conversations are on difficult topics. Locally, both SWAN@GES and the Full Stop harassment campaign have together helped to open up a whole range of issues. There are many issues yet to be resolved across the sector such as the persistence of the gender pay gap, and I look forward to these being addressed.

The widening of Athena SWAN to include non-STEM subjects and non-academic staff is to be welcomed. It has always been important for me that Athena Swan should be relevant to everyone, students and staff alike, and ultimately I believe it leads to improvements for all in our working environment.

Sabina Lawrie (Postgraduate researcher)

My background

I am a PhD student in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences (GES) conducting research in Dar es Salaam Tanzania, focussing on informality and alternative development and always concerned with gender. I first came to the University of Glasgow in 2007 to complete an undergraduate degree in Geography. Following graduation, I moved to Japan and taught English for two years, before returning to Glasgow on an ESRC-funded 1+3 programme in 2013.

Being a women in higher education

My gender has been particularly impactful in my higher education experience during lone fieldwork in Tanzania during which I frequently encounter surprise that I am studying a PhD, and travelling in Tanzania without a man to accompany me! My experiences in fieldwork have been highly gendered, involving multiple questions about my plans to have children as well as the occasional marriage proposal. Luckily this is not reflective of my entire experience of being a woman in higher education. In general I think that attitudes in higher education towards women are more positive than in the general population, possibly as a consequence of being more aware of the debates surrounding gender equality and feminism. However, apart from there being a higher proportion of people aware of the debates, I would suggest that being a woman in higher education is fairly similar to being a women anywhere else, where expressions of uncertainty or emotion are written off as irrational femininity, rather than as experiences to be taken seriously.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me.

I joined the Athena SWAN team in 2014 and first became interested in Athena SWAN due to my research interests in gender combined with a desire to become more involved in departmental life. I have since become the chair of the post-graduate sub-group of SWAN@GES. Working on the Athena SWAN SAT means engaging with some of the challenges involved in working in academia and GES, particularly related to workload, work-life balance and flexible working. Work-life balance is particularly pertinent to me as outside of academia, I teach Scottish Country Dancing. I also enjoy dressmaking, studying Japanese, running, cycling and snowboarding when I get a chance! I live with my partner and currently we seem to spend a lot of time doing DIY together in our new flat. Athena SWAN provides me with reassurance that GES is an organisation that is working towards helping balance a positive work-life arrangement. It seems increasingly possible to me to have both a career and a rich ‘home life’. Athena SWAN has also been a positive experience as it has enabled me to meet and work with colleagues I would otherwise not engage with as part of my PhD.  SWAN@GES events are also particularly helpful as spaces in which to discuss academic careers.

Vern Phoenix (Reader)

My Background

After post-doc positions in Canada (at Universities of Toronto and Guelph) I was appointed to an RCUK Academic Fellowship in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at Glasgow in 2005.  This transferred to a lectureship in 2010 and I became Reader in 2011.  My research originally focussed upon how the Earth’s first life forms (bacteria) survived the hostile conditions of early Earth. More recently the knowledge I have gained from this has been used to explore how we can use bacteria to solve some of today’s environmental problems.  Of course, I still take an interest in the early earth work as it enables me to do fieldwork in some pretty interesting places (currently the Chilean Altiplano).

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me

As any parent will tell you, raising kids is exhausting and exhilarating in equal measures.  It’s certainly been a shock to find out how much less time I have on my hands these days (my children are 3 and 5 years old and keep me plenty busy).  For me, the work Athena SWAN is doing to promote a good work life balance is really important.  While it’s good for me as a parent, it’s good for everyone.  Whatever your home situation, we all deserve a balanced life style. A working environment that provides a supportive framework and balanced lifestyle is important, as my wife is also an academic at the University.  As we share the childcare, any system that supports me, ultimately helps me to do my share and support her (and vice versa).

Hester Parr (Professor)

My career story

I am Professor of Human Geography in GES and my research interests in mental health, embodiment and creative practices have been nurtured in the stimulating environment of the Human Geography Research Group (HGRG) of GES. I joined GES as a Reader in 2009, after starting my career at Dundee University. I worked part-time for the first 4 years of my time here and was promoted to a Professorship in 2015.

Being a woman in higher education

At several stages during my career the institutional context where am I based has changed its process and procedures in relation to women, gender and equality issues. I have welcomed these moments as progressive. I have always been aware of the engrained masculinities of the academy (performances not always produced by men) and it is still a challenge to work in a context where stereotypical masculine characteristics are valued (unconsciously and otherwise) as ‘the norm’. I have been lucky to have been supported, mentored and befriended by both men and women who have inspired me to continue working in academia. I am now in the position of supervising postgraduate students and being a mentor to other women in the workplace. I hope that my career story helps them to believe that higher education can be inclusive of different kinds of women from a range of backgrounds.

GES appointed me from a period of maternity leave and was flexible in agreeing to an initial part-time contract in order so that I could spend more time with my son when he was very young. While I think universities can manage part-time academic workers much better than they do, I have also benefitted from this flexibility and from standout moments of understanding from some of my colleagues. I am now a full-time member of staff but often try to advocate for part-timers where possible.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference

I value Athena Swan as a vehicle through which we are required to openly discuss gender politics and relations and address work-life balance issues. There is undoubtedly a clear emphasis in the Athena framework on women and their retention (at all levels) in the academy and I welcome that. However, I do stand by our local by-line: ‘What is good for women is good for everyone’. I am currently chairing our local SAT, which is a time-consuming job and requires much energy. I think we have produced real cultural change in our workplace and given a voice to the views of very different people in GES. I am proud of our work but think we have still some way to go to be fully inclusive to all staff and student groups and genders. I am excited about that challenge.

Megan Donald (Postgraduate Researcher)

My Background

I am currently a PhD student and interested in the emotional and more-than-human geographies of veterinary medicine. Originally from Inverness, I moved to Glasgow in 2009 to begin my undergraduate Geography degree here in GES, where I have stayed to complete my MRes and now my PhD. I’m also a Graduate Teaching Assistant for Geography Level 1 and 2.

Being a women in higher education

The whole of my early research career has been spent at GES where I have been lucky to be inspired by many female researchers and teachers, to the extent that I questioned how gender was an issue in the academic world. I have come to see how gender issues work in more insidious ways though – and my work now involves feminist critiques of science and discussion of emotions that I sometimes feel are taken seriously in theory but not in practice. It worries me that it is becoming increasingly difficult for PGR’s to get longer-term academic jobs but knowing that there is genuine support at GES goes far in easing these anxieties.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me

Athena Swan, although contentious at times, has opened up debates relating to gender, work-life balance and collegial relationships with people who might not have done so before. It feels like it creates an even-playing field where we can discuss how we are all affected by gender and other inequalities. In GES, I feel there is less of a formal hierarchy and Athena Swan has helped this further, especially in the events where early career researchers like me can chat openly with more experienced female researchers. Hopefully in the future, there will be a more attempts to address racial issues within the discipline and think about systemic inequalities in a more intersectional way.

Sophie Shuttleworth (postgraduate researcher)

My background

I first came to the University of Glasgow in 2009 to study for an undergraduate degree in Geography. I then gained 1+3 funding from the ESRC to undertake the MRes programme and my PhD. My PhD is concerned with the language geographies of young migrants in Glasgow, particularly looking at the experiences refugees and asylum seekers have of acquiring and using English, and the spaces in which this takes place.

Being a women in higher education

From a very early stage in my career I have been lucky enough to have been supported by Hester Parr, who supervised my undergraduate dissertation and has since encouraged and mentored me through the other stages of my career. Having a female role model from such an early stage has definitely helped me in realising that women can have equally successful careers in academia. Hester has a young child, again proving that having both a family and an academic career is indeed possible. Out of my three PhD supervisors two are female professors who are renowned in their fields, providing excellent role models for me as I progress through my career.

The academic field that I work in tends to be dominated by women. I feel that now, more than ever, discussions around gender, both within academia and more broadly, are coming to the fore, thus raising awareness of issues faced by women around the world. I don’t feel that I have been disadvantaged in any way because of my gender and I think this goes to show the excellent support and understanding with the school of GES at Glasgow.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me

I first became aware of Athena Swan two years ago and since then I feel that it has become a mainstay of GES life, gaining support from a range of staff and students (not just women!). It has opened up discussions around people’s experiences of working within academia while also having a personal life at home. This has been beneficial in gaining a broad understanding of the multitude of issues people face at all stages of their career. Discussions around work-life balance and mental health are now commonplace between colleagues and peers, and I believe this is a result of the work Athena Swan has done in GES.

As a result of these progressive debates, I feel more confident in respecting my own work-life balance and ensuring both my mental and physical wellbeing are of utmost importance, something that is so often overlooked in this kind of work. I believe that there are still issues to address around race and LGBTQ issues within GES and academia more broadly. I think that with the success of Athena Swan, the groundwork has been laid for progressive discussion and we are now in a position to begin to tackle these issues.

Dawn Bradshaw (Head of School Administration)

My Background

I’ve been with GES for 9 years. My post works in partnership with Head of School, the School Executive and College Management to ensure the School activity is managed in order to realise our strategic ambitions. I manage school finances and budgeting, contribute to strategy formation, advise and develop policy, manage and implement any changes to structure or service and sit on various University project boards for items such as TRM, Workload model and Glasgow Professional. I feel proud to be part of GES and lucky to work with so many great colleagues who really care about the success of the school and welfare of students and staff.

Being a women in higher education

I am a woman working in higher education who has experienced excellent relationships with men and women at all levels and job families. As a member of professional staff I notice a higher proportion of women in administration roles at certain levels, and more males at senior levels. I am keen to get involved in development of all professional staff to ensure we all have an equal opportunity to apply for promoted positions, and am currently involved in the Glasgow Professional working group to look at ways to explore this.

What Athena Swan in GES means to me

I am the professional staff representative on the SAT and current chair of the Data Acquisition group. Athena Swan has certainly created lively discussions about issues that have always been evident, but are now more recognized at a local level. For example, the dearth of opportunity and development for certain job families was just accepted, even though a major issue for lots of employees. Now, through Athena Swan, this issue will hopefully be addressed at University level, as there needs to be a new development framework for professional staff. I believe that all staff who play a part in the success of the School/College/University should be valued, developed, appreciated and rewarded accordingly, and I hope Athena Swan is the vehicle for that change.

Grant Anderson (Postgraduate researcher)

My background

I started my undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Glasgow in 2010. My fascination in the ‘Self/Other’ and the social outsider, particularly with regards to sexuality and gender, was sparked at this time. I then undertook the MRes in Human Geography in the school, this time focussing on the role between the state, and alternative sexual practice, identities and politics. In 2015, I started a PhD in Geography, researching gender transgression in Scotland and focussing on gender identities which do not adhere to the male/female binary.

How Athena Swan in GES has made a difference to me

Athena Swan has made a difference to me in a number of ways. Firstly, being part of the SAT team has made me realise to what extent gender disparities still exist in academia in general, especially within senior positions. Athena Swan provides an active platform to bring forward these issues at a school level. From a male perspective, it has also assisted my thinking around why gender equality in the work place is not just better for women, but why it is beneficial for all members of staff. Athena Swan has also put me in touch with other members of the school. This has allowed me to meet peers from across the school and has been of great value when settling into the PhD role.

Athena Swan has also made me more aware of the importance of good work practice and of a healthy work-life balance: how this can be maintained and how important it is to physical and mental health. The supportive nature of the informal mentoring scheme made me realise the importance of being able to talk openly with other PhD students about work-related worries or concerns. This was particularly useful when starting a PhD and now, when I am starting to think about conference attendance, presenting and publication.

More generally, I think that Athena Swan has a positive impact on the School as it makes all members of staff consider the gender inequalities that still exist in the work place. It makes people think differently not only about the gender relations between individuals within the department but also reconsiders the relationship between different types of staff to create a more inclusive and more respectful School as a whole.