Choose To Challenge – Meet the Women of FMS: Emma Stevenson

The theme of International Women’s Day this year was #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 yourselves everyday!

The fourth interview in our #ChooseToChallenge series is with Emma Stevenson, Professor of Sport & Exercise Science and Deputy Dean of Population Health Services Institute. Enjoy!

Photo of Emma Stevenson, Professor of Sport and Exercise Science and Deputy Dean of Population Health Sciences Institute.

Please describe your role.

I am a Professor of Sport and Exercise Science and Deputy Dean of Population Health Sciences Institute (PHSI) in The Faculty of Medical Sciences.  I lead on the strategic development of the discipline of Sport and Exercise Science from a teaching, research and infrastructure perspective. It has been an amazing opportunity to set up a new discipline in the Medical School. In my Deputy Dean role, I support Professor Catherine Exley (Dean) in the day-to-day running of PHSI and in the development and growth of the Institute.

What would a normal day look like for you?

A normal day would usually start with an early morning run by the sea followed by a mad hour getting my two boys ready for school and out of the door in time. At work, I spend a lot of time in meetings either in my Deputy Dean role or with colleagues in Sport and Exercise Science. I also spend time meeting with my PhD students and meeting with both UG and PG students that I supervise or teach. I really enjoy the student-facing aspects of my job. Pre-COVID, I spent a lot of time travelling for meetings and conferences which I do miss.

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

I have had to coordinate work and home schooling commitments as much as possible so I try and plan meetings in blocks and make sure I keep time free in my diary for lunch time with the children. Exercise has always been a big part of our family life but this has become even more important during COVID. Getting out for runs and walks every day has really helped to switch off from work and reset for family time.  Having a designated work area that I can walk away from at the end of a working day has also helped.

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

I’m proud to be in a leadership role as a woman surrounded by many other inspiring women in FMS and across the wider University. I feel very lucky to work with so many supportive colleagues, particularly those who understand the pressures of being a working mum.

A massive thank you to Emma 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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