Tag Archives: Women

Women and Science

One other thing which keeps Oceanographers busy, is meetings. These meetings are not always related to my field of study or projects. This week I want to tell you about one subject I have been involved in for 10 months now “Women in Science”. I choose this theme this week because I was in the Embassy of Spain in a ‘roundtable Women in Science’ organized by the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (http://www.sruk.org.uk/).
It began in this way; during August last year, I received an email from the Professional Development Unit saying that the head of Ocean and Earth Science had nominated me to take part on the programme “Women into Leadership and Management” which the university runs for women in Level 4 (postdoctoral, fellows, junior lectures…). I still have a hard time believing that the head of the school knows who I am or knows which level I am. However, personal assistants do a marvellous job, hahaha.
So, I said to myself “Why not? Let’s see what this is all about”. I communicated my decision to my partner and my dad and the first reaction I had, from both of them, was more or less “Oh no!! You don’t need more teaching about being bossy!!”
So, the programme turned out to be really interesting. We had a two day residential workshop where small groups were formed (I was part of the red team!!) and we explored leadership and team -worker styles (like summer camp activities but under the rain, to prove our resilience!!). We then had regular red team mentoring meetings with a nice female Professor, where we talked about career paths, networking, elevator speech… We networked with other women at the same level from other areas. We had a lot of courses and workshops, like “Face the fear” or “Influence and Persuasion”. We recently had our Belbin test results (http://www.belbin.com/) where it turns out I am seen by my closer colleague and by myself as a team-worker, implementer and specialist but not as a really creative person.
During this process I was amazed to realize that even today, there is still a great difference between the small number of women compared to men in positions of leadership. An unconscious bias exists and works against the women in academia. Women need to be at least 2.5 times better to get the same job. Motherhood is deemed to be a problem, but works the other way for fatherhood and is an extra-point to father’s CV. We have to learn to say “NO” to tasks we don’t want to do. We need to self-promoted themselves more. And, after all, being bossy is not at all a bad thing!!
I want to end by saying that the ‘roundtable’ at the Embassy was really productive with great speakers and interesting questions,only comparable in quality with the Spanish ham which was served in the reception that followed.