This WeCAN event was of particular interest to PhD students who have yet to decide on a clinical or academic pathway, and Postdocs who in the near future will be looking towards securing a Fellowship to further their chosen academic career.
Both Niamh and Ruth while currently at the same stage in their careers have had very different pathways to reach the same point, which proves that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to securing a Fellowship. What was obvious from both presentations is the importance of building relationships with individuals who are further along in their academic career internal and external to your organisation, to not be afraid to ask questions, have the confidence to hold onto and recognise your research achievements for your future advancement.
The presenters gave an open and honest synopsis of what is required to achieve a fellowship, a willingness to constantly work towards goals, being prepared to write and submit grants during family times such as Christmas in order to be considered for interview and eventual success in securing a Fellowship.
The majority of the audience was made up of those who would find the presentation most relevant to their career stage, and questions asked proved this. The feedback received was very positive, and will be used to create future WeCAN events.
This event opened the first of the Gender Equality Office, Womens early Career Academic Network (WeCAN) offerings for the 2015 / 2016 academic year within the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences (SMDBS).
As with previous speakers, Professor Judy Bradley, Director of NI Clinical Research Facility was pleased to be involved in WeCAN, and provide an overview to all present on her career challenges and opportunities to date. While Judy's presentation was relevant from an academic point of view for the PhD students and academics present, her career focus, goals and determination to realise her ambition was relevant to all levels of staff who came along to our event.
WeCAN has proven to be one of our most successful initiatives during the last few years, and as such it was no surprise that we had a good turnout. For this year, our events have moved to the new Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (WWIEM) on the main School of Medicine campus.
Professor Bradley received many relevant questions from attendees, all of which were answered as honestly and openly as possible.
Equinome ‘was established in 2009 to assist the bloodstock industry to maximise the genetic potential of each Thoroughbred horse, through the development and provision of novel genetic tests founded in scientific excellence’, and was co-founded by Dr Emmeline Hill.
Dr Hill provided the audience with an open and informative presentation and discussion on her career goals and plans to date, and her hopes and dreams for her and Equinome’s future. It was very obvious that Dr Hill had a clear goal in mind based on a throw away comment she had heard in the past, and the comment kept knocking. Eventually due to her own determination, belief in her by individuals in the bloodstock industry and her research findings, Equinome was born.
Due to the number and depth of questions asked by audience members after Dr Hill’s presentation indicated how well her words, innate ambition and achievements to date resonated with all those present.
We wish Dr Hill all the best with Equinome.
The Gender Equality Office held a coffee morning for International Women's Day in both the foyer of the CCRCB on the BCH site, and in the foyer of ICS-A on the RVH site. The charity chosen this year by the Gender Equality Committee as Asha India. Asha India work in the slums of India providing primary healthcare. We raised an impressive sum of £520.00 from our coffee morning, and this was presented to Hazel Henderson of Asha India shortly after.
Hazel explained that the money raised will go directly to 'development work at Peeragarhi Slum Colony, specifically the installation of a pre fabricated portacabin which will be used as a primary healthcare and referral centre on a large plot of land which has been donated by the Delhi Development Authority'.
The SMDBS Gender Equality Office were very pleased to be able to contribute to this excellent cause.
The Gender Equality Office hosted the MDBS Annual Gender Equality Lecture in Riddel Hall in February this year. Professor Stuart Elborn, Dean of the School (MDBS) introduced the guest lecturer, Professor Helen Whelton, Dean of the School of Dentistry, University of Leeds and highlighted the progress that has been made in Gender Equality in MDBS.
Professor Whelton spoke of the impact of micro-inequities that can accumulate to impact career progression and shared her clinical academic career pathway and the challenges that she overcame to reach her current position. Professor Whelton’s inspirational presentation also offered insight into how she successfully balances her professional and personal life.
The lecture was well attended by students and staff from MDBS and other parts of the University. Feedback and comments from those who attended were full of praise for Professor Whelton and her ability to engage and encourage people at all stages of their careers.
Dr Karen McCloskey, Director of MDBS Gender Equality Office said “The motivational impact of the lecture on those present was significant, with conversations taking place in MDBS in the weeks that followed around gender equality issues and the need to support early-career researchers and academics.“
Following on from our WeCAN event in October where we focused on a career as a Lecturer in Education, our next event focused on a Joint Career Pathway as requested from feedback received in 2013 / 2014.
We were pleased when Professor McMullin who currently works between the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) and Belfast City Hospital agreed to come along to provide guidance to attendees who are considering a joint career pathway. Professor McMullin began by explaining her background where she trained in haematology and general medicine in Belfast and then in the Royal Postgraduate Medical school, Hammersmith Hospital. On returning to Belfast Professor McMullin was appointed senior lecturer in 1991 and has been an active researcher and clinician in haematological malignancy in Belfast since that time.
There was a great deal of interest in Professor McMullin’s presentation from those in attendance, and many of the comments received were positive, along with questions asked during the Question and Answer session which was held after the presentation.
The first WeCAN event for the 2014 / 2015 academic year was held on Wednesday 15th October 2014. We were delighted that Dr Aisling Keane, Lecturer in Education, Centre for Biomedical Sciences Education in Queens University Belfast was happy to impart her knowledge to PhD students, and postdocs who are considering a career as Lecturer in Education.
Dr Keane provided the audience with a detailed and enthusiastic presentation about her career to date, the steps she took, and the people who influenced her to choose lecturing as her chosen career.
Some of the comments received as feedback from the attendees were
- I have just started my PhD and it was valuable insight to careers beyond my PhD. I know I must be pro-active on this front. Also like the relaxed, casual environment.
- Dr Keane’s presentation was excellent. More career sessions. Good balance between networking & the main session.
- An excellent overview of a career path in education for PhD’s / postdocs. Very, very informative. Thank you!!
The final WeCAN event for the 2013—2014 academic year was held on Wednesday 21st May 2014 in the Canada Room and Council Chamber, with an excellent turnout from PhD students through to Professors. The speaker was Dr Janice Bailie from the Public Health Agency.
Janice completed a PhD in Biochemistry at Queen's University in 1990, focusing on growth factors and microvasculature in breast tumours. Her post-doctoral research examined gene expression in retinal and tumour microvasculature, in the Department of Ophthalmology at Queen’s, and in the Radiation Science Group, University of Ulster.
From 1998-2005, she was Divisional R&D Manager in Molecular Biology at Randox Laboratories Ltd., led a research team developing biomarker-based microarrays for diagnosis of cancers and cardiovascular disease, and collaborated with national and international partners in clinical trials and technology development. Janice put a human face to her time at Randox Laboratories Ltd., as she explained how her research played a part in finding a cure for a condition from which a family member suffered.
She joined the then HPSS R & D Office as Programme Manager in January 2005. The office has a regional remit for promoting, supporting and facilitating research & development in health and social care. Janice was appointed as Assistant Director of the office, which has now become the Health & Social Care R&D Division within the Public Health Agency, in April 2013.
There was a lot of interest from those present in Janice’s career path and many significant and relevant questions were asked, and answered honestly and openly by Janice.
The SMDBS Gender Equality office held its second ‘Meet the Professor’ lunch for 2013/2014 on Wednesday 16th April in the Old Staff Common Room.
While the number of PhD students and Clinical Fellows who attended was lower than expected, those who participated took advantage of the opportunity to chat with 6 of our female Professors who were very happy to give of their time to offer support and advice to our female students.
A comment from one of our students who attended - “Just to say thanks for organising a really beneficial lunch – I really enjoyed chatting with the Professors, and benefiting from their experience! Thanks for taking the time and effort to set this lunch up for us – I received some memorable words of wisdom and advice, and very much appreciate the opportunity this lunch afforded to meet with female Professors”.
Our next ‘Meet the Professor’ Lunch will be held in November 2014.
The Gender Equality Office held its third WeCan event of 2013/14 – The SWAN action plan – how does it help me? - on Wednesday 26th March 2014. The 24 attendees represented PhD Students, Clinical Fellows, Postdoctoral Fellows, Lecturers, Senior Lecturers and Professors.
Dr Karen McCloskey, Director of SMDBS GEO gave an enlightening talk describing the role of Queen’s QGI, the statistics underpinning the formation of the SMSBS GEO and the benefits for all that are to be gained from engagement in initiatives that support gender equality and specifically, the activities that are ongoing as part of the SMDBS SWAN action plan.
Many of the individuals who attended this WeCan event would have been largely unfamiliar with the background statistics and the purpose of the Athena SWAN Charter. Dr McCloskey’s talk was informative in this regard and was also very encouraging in terms of highlighting the support that is available in the School and the University for women who want to pursue an academic career.
The final WeCan event of this academic year is scheduled for 21st May 2014, 1-2pm when Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director, HSC Research & Development Division, Public Health Agency, will speak on ‘Role Models- Non-Academic Careers’ followed by an open discussion.
The Gender Equality Office held a coffee morning for International Women's Day on Tuesday 11th March 2014 in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology on the Belfast City Hospital site and the Institute of Clinical Sciences on the Royal Victoria Hospital site.
Colleagues from the School of Pharmacy were involved in the event at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology. Thankis to everyone who donated home baked or purchased goods and to those who were generous with their time in the preparation and serving at the events. The coffee morning raised over £600.00 across the two sites for our chosen charities.
The WeCAN network held a 'Careers Pathways' Event on Wednesday 5th February 2014 which was attended by PhD students, Postdoctoral Fellows and academic staff.
Two speakers at different stages of their academic careers, Professor Jayne Woodside, CPH and Dr Fionnuala Lundy, Senior Lecturer, CII gave very open and honest presentations about their career paths. They explained that there is no 'one size fits all' to reach your intended goals, and that it is important to seek out and take advantage of opportunities. both speakers said that hard work led to rewarding academic careers.
The Gender Equality Office held its Annual Lecture on Wednesday 22nd January 2014, in Riddel Hall. The guest lecturer was Professor Sue Wray, a leading scientist with an international reputation in the field of reproductive physiology. Sue is Professor of Physiology at the University of Liverpool, Fellow of various bodies, Editor in Chief of Physiology reports and a former Head of Department. She has an impressive publication record including scientific articles and book chapters.
As well as all things physiological, Professor Wray is particularly passionate about basic research to improve pregnancy and labour outcomes for women not only in the UK but around the world. To this end she is the Director of the "Centre for Better Births" at Liverpool (www.betterbirths.org) and this is her main research focus.
Prior to the lecture, the GEO hosted a "Careers and Coffee" informal discussion for female PhD students, Clinical fellows and Postdoctoral Researchers with Professor Sue Wray.
After a networking lunch, Professor Graham McGeown, Deputy Head of SMDBS welcomed everyone to the event and introduced Professor Wray.
The lecture was entitled "Reflections on an Academic Career in Women's Health - A womb with a view". Approximately 50 people attended the lecture, including PhD students, Clinical Fellows, Postdoctoral Researchers and Academic staff from the SMDBS and across the university. Professor Wray's lecture was interesting, motivating and highly relevant to all who attended.
The lecture was followed by an interactive Q & A session focussing on career progression and gender / diversity areas which Professor Wray had addressed during the lecture.
'Can women really have it all?' was the focus of dicussions at the WeCAN event held on Friday 6th December 2013.
Professor Eileen Harkin-Jones (School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) and Professor Noemi Lois (Centre for Experimental Medicine, SMDBS) shared their perspectives on this topic with over 30 members of staff from Postdoctoral Researcher to Professor who attended this event.
The event ended with an interactive discussion, chaired by Dr Michelle McKinley (WeCAN Co-ordinator). Feedback indicated that the event had been enjoyable and useful and the staff who attended said they would encourage other colleagues to come along to future events.
The University hosted a celebration lunch for the successful teams from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences and the School of Biology on 7th June 2013. Several of the SMDBS SWAN team members are pictures from L-R: Dr Derek Brazil, Mr Paul Browne, Dr Niamh Buckley-O'Brien, Prof Yvonne Galligan, Ms Jane Garvey, Prof Patrick Johnston, Prof Louise Cosby, Dr Marie Cantwell, Dr Ultan Power, Dr Karen McCloskey
Around 30 members of staff from Postdoctoral Researcher to Professor enjoyed the WeCAN lunchtime event on "Imposter Syndrome". After a buffet lunch, Prof Yvonne Galligan (School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy) and Prof Teresa McCormack (School of Psychology) led the session by sharing insights and observations on Imposter Syndrome gained throughout their academic careers. Dr Michelle McKinley (WeCAN Co-ordinator) then chaired a lively, interactive discussion. Informal feedback showed that staff found the event to be informative and supportive as well as being a good opportunity to network with colleagues across the school.
Simone Buitendijk is a member of the Board of the Univesity of Leiden and holds a chair in Women's and Family Health at the Leiden University Medical Centre. 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 Equality Office hosted workshops with Professor 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.
Photographs: Professor Yvonne Galligan, Director of Queens Gender Initiative, launching the Postdoctoral Bookmark (left) and Professor Simone Buitendijk, University of Leiden, Netherlands (right). Professor Buitendijk's presentation was entitled 'Increasing gender initiative in academic leadership: time for action'.
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)