Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Rector of the University of Leiden
Simone Buitendijk is a member of the Board of the University of Leiden and holds a chair in Women’s and Family Health at the Leiden University Medical Center. She is a member of the National Health Council that advises the Dutch Government on health issues. She was involved in the EU FP-7 project, GenSET (Gender in Science Engineering and Technology).
Her lecture was entitled: ‘Increasing gender diversity in academic leadership: time for action’. The current lack of gender diversity in academic leadership in Europe implies that universities lose out on important opportunities to achieve excellence in teaching and research. It is clear from a large body of recent studies which measures can and should be implemented to change the present imbalance. The time for action appears to have arrived. In her presentation, Professor Buitendijk focused on concrete measures that universities can take. She discussed some of the recommendations from the recent League of European Research Universities (LERU)-report ‘'Women, research and universities: excellence without gender bias' that she co-authored.
Prior to the lecture the Gender Quality Office hosted workshops with Prof Buitendijk: Sharing Good Practice within EU Universities with members of the committee and the school SWAN team, followed by a Career Development Workshop with clinical fellows and post-doctoral scientists.
Prof Tony Gallagher (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning, Staffing and External Relations) spoke about promotion processes and benchmarking.
Paul Browne from the Equal Opportunities Unit summarised the monitoring procedures around promotion covered the most relevant statistics concerning gender balance in applications and results. Linda Carey, one of the Queen’s Gender Initative mentoring champions, highlighted the benefits of mentoring and introduced how the Mentoring Programme operates at Queen’s.
Professor Teresa Rees from Cardiff University attended the WeCan launch to discuss her work with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, set up by the Government to address the quality of leadership in higher education. Queen’s University is one of the subscribers and users of the organisation. The Leadership Foundation offers a series of programmes for different leadership levels and there is a there is an identified need for leadership in research.
The Leadership Foundation has also developed a programme designed for mid-career people which helps improve confidence in leadership skills.
Francis Guinane and Paula Teggart from the Queen’s University Staff Training & Development Unit (STDU) also attended the WeCan Launch to discuss the support available from Queen’s University. SDTU has ensured its leadership programmes link with individuals’ real jobs and the strategic plans of the University. The programmes are mapped onto the Leadership Foundation and National Occupational Standards for Leadership and Management.
We celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March with a charity coffee morning taking place in two venues, the CCRCB Building (photograph left) and the Institute of Clinical Science.
The event organised by the Gender Equality Committee collected just over £600 for the charity, Partners in Health and also raised awareness of the Gender Equality Office within the School and throughout the University.
The official launch of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences Gender Equality Office took place in September in the resonant surroundings of the Harty Room. Attended by staff from across many of the different areas in the School, the talks and discussion brought out themes around work-life challenges with which everyone could identify. In his opening address, Professor Patrick Johnston said how delighted he was as Head of School to make a commitment to dealing with women’s priorities and to develop best practice, ensuring a supportive working environment for all. Professor Barbara McDermott, who took up the post of Director of Gender Equality earlier in the year, then presented a profile of the ‘Woman-friendly School’, highlighting particular goals and her hopes that the School would achieve due recognition for getting this right.
An engaging keynote speaker for such an event marks the success of it and there was no doubt that Professor Guro Valen from the University of Oslo hit all the right notes with her talk ‘A Cardiovascular Career – Surgery and Science’. She completed medical training in Oslo and undertook a PhD in experimental surgery at the University of Tromso. She then worked as a cardio-thoracic surgeon in Stockholm and developed an academic career at the Karolinska Institute. Speaking with openness and humour, she described weaving a successful path through the challenges of dual careers, young children and ‘long hours’ culture. An interesting discussion followed that brought in Professor Teresa Rees from the University of Cardiff. She is a long-term expert advisor to the European Commission on women and science, and was a speaker at an earlier meeting on ‘Supporting Research Excellence’, which explored the particular difficulties particularly for younger women academics in the approach to REF2014.
Rounding off a very worthwhile and enjoyable day with a dinner in the Canada Room attended by School staff and University representatives, Professor Peter Gregson commended the School for having the foresight to set up the Gender Equality office, and wished the enterprise every success for the future.
Photographs: Professor B McDermott, Professor P Johnston and Professor G Valen at the launch (left) and Professor Teresa Rees, Cardiff University, External Advisor (right)