Picture of Amy Reeve, research fellow and co-director of EDI within FMS.

Choose to challenge – Meet THE WOMEN OF FMS: Amy reeve

Today is International Women’s Day 2021! The theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge. Here in FMS, we believe strongly in challenging gendered assumptions on working in science. It’s important to celebrate the hard working & powerful women leading our department, who set an example every day of just how much women are capable of. To all fellow women scientists out there: remember to celebrate you today and everyday!

On that note, starting today, we will be releasing a series of blog posts spotlighting our female leaders as the role models they are. This first interview is with Amy Reeve, research fellow within the Translational and Clinical Research Institute, and co-director of EDI within FMS. Enjoy!

A photo of Amy Reeve, research fellow and co-director of EDI within FMS.

Please describe your role.

I am a research fellow within the Translational and Clinical Research Institute. I lead a small research team whose focus is on furthering our understanding of the causes of Parkinson’s with an aim to identify new neuroprotective treatments for this disease. I am also one of the Co-Directors of EDI for the Faculty of Medical Sciences with Dr. Damian Parry.

What would a normal day look like for you?

It depends on the day!

Every day starts with time with my son, I drop him off at nursery and then start my work day.

On my research days I touch base with my students and Post-doc providing support and guidance when needed. I then usually do some experiments, typically cell culture or tissue based. Then I spend some time reading and writing, papers and grants mostly. When I have time I also like to take part in public engagement events.

On my EDI days, I catch up with our core FMS EDI team, chair and sit in on meetings, and work to support any initiatives or ongoing projects, for example the Athena Swan Action Plan or the Race Equality Charter work.

Then I pick up my son and catch up on the highs and lows of pre-school life. Cue lots of drama!

If I have a heavy work load I might then do a couple of hours when he is in bed before starting it all again the next day.

How have you found a balance between work and homelife during Covid?

Finding a work life balance is something that I have always struggled with and COVID has certainly made this feel more difficult. A balance implies that both these aspects make the same demands on your time, but unfortunately this is not the case. My son never emails me out of ‘mum hours’, or expects me to take hours out of my work day to complete a Lego project or read his latest story. The pandemic has been a struggle for many, and at times I have found it played to my anxieties about being a successful researcher while having enough time for my son. During the first lockdown when nurseries were closed, I did find it tough maintaining a balance as I had to devote more time to being a mum, I worried about my work outputs and about what the impact would be long term. I worked into the evenings and over weekends to ‘make up the hours’. However, on reflection in many ways I am grateful for those extra days I got to spend with my son, the milestones I got to share with him and the fun we had. I still worry about my work outputs but I have realised that there are somethings that are not worth compromising!

My work life balance has improved, as I now make more effort to separate work and home, I don’t check emails during the evening or over the weekend. Although, I do make sure that my team have my mobile number in case of emergencies. I am also trying to be more realistic about what I can achieve in a working week and I am working on my delegation skills!!

What does it mean to you being a woman in your role?

I fell into research a little bit, being a researcher was not my dream. I wanted to be an archaeologist or a vet! When I was at University though I became fascinated by the brain and how it worked. So when I found an advert for a PhD that aimed to understand what made it go wrong I was hooked!! I am proud to be a woman in STEM research, I am proud that we are making a difference. I am grateful for the women, the pioneers, who went before me for lighting the way and I hope that one day I will guide the way for other women.

As for my EDI role, I am humbled to be able to be a part of a team who strives for the equality of all within FMS. I am immensely proud to have been given the opportunity to enact change within FMS and to ensure that the voices of all are heard across the faculty and beyond.

A huge thank you to Amy for taking the time to talk to us.

Newcastle University is committed to developing careers for all colleagues, with some great success stories of women who have developed full and rewarding careers across the institution.  Historically we have supported specific women into leadership programmes such as the Aurora programme and the Women in academia – coaching and mentoring (WiCAM) programme in collaboration with Durham University, alongside broader coaching and mentoring opportunities.  As part of the university commitment to this agenda, work is currently underway to review our development offerings with a view to launching a refreshed offer in the autumn to ensure we have the right support in place.

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