Category Archives: Gender Equality

Our thoughts and feelings about gender equality, and what we are doing to combat all types of gender inequality, towards people of all genders.

FMS EDI WEEK PROGRAMME: 24th-28TH febrUARY 2020

It’s back – FMS is holding its second Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Week, and we hope to see you there!

After last year’s success including the celebration of our Athena SWAN Silver Award, we are holding the Faculty’s second EDI Week for staff and students! We have a range of events lined up and listed below so that you can hear about the progress and ongoing work around EDI, and learn more about current issues that might be relevant to you.

Don’t miss out – take a look at what we’ve got lined up and book yourself in! We hope to see you at one of our events!

#FMSEDIWeek2020


Monday 24th February:

  • The EDI Strategy & Our Day-to-day Roles – 10-11.30am, FMS Boardroom
    To launch the week we’ll be hearing from a number of panellists within the Faculty and beyond, talking about how they would like to interpret and translate our EDI strategy in their day-to-day roles. Read more and register.
  • Multicultural Event – 12:30-2pm, David Shaw Foyer
    Organised by the Dental School, this event aims to celebrate our staff/student community by sharing presentations about the various cultures, faiths, traditions and foods within FMS. All are welcome to attend!

Tuesday 25th February:

  • Imposter Syndrome with Rachel Tobbell – 12-2pm, Leech L2.4
    This interactive workshop will explore the experiences of ‘Imposter Syndrome’: how it affects us, how societal pressures can exacerbate the problem, how such internal doubts impact on our lives and what we can do to manage those feelings. Read more and register.

Wednesday 26th February:

  • LGBT Lives – 12-2pm, Ridley Building 2, Room 1.58
    As part of celebrations for LGBTQ+ History month as well as EDI Week, come along and listen to a panel discussion with members of the Rainbow LGBTQ+ staff network as they delve into the day-to-day experiences of working and being LGBTQ+ at Newcastle and in HE. Read more and register.

Thursday 27th February:

  • Breakfast with Athene Donald – 9.30-10.30am, FMS Boardroom
    Join the Master of Churchill College at the University of Cambridge, Athene Donald for this session, aimed primarily at ECRs and Fellows, in which you can discuss reconciling the risks of a contract-based research career with a long term vision of making a difference in academia. Breakfast included! Read more and register here.
  • Plenary with Athene Donald: The Art of Survival – 12.30-2.00pm, David Shaw Lecture Theatre
    As a longstanding champion of women in academia, Athene Donald will talk about her experiences and strategies developed during her career to help her succeed, and the value of passing on such knowledge to help others survive within institutions. Read more and register here.

Friday 28th February:

  • Personal Resilience: A taster session, with Lisa Rippingale – 12-2pm, Leech L2.4
    This workshop aims to provide participants with a range of tools and techniques to develop their personal resilience. Read more and register here.

NUMed10: A Milestone of Excellence  

“We truly have a community that is both diverse and inclusive at NUMed, and we are incredibly humbled that so many have come to be with us to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We anticipate what the future holds as we continue to develop our role in medical education in Malaysia and across the world,”

– Prof. Chris Baldwin, the Provost & Chief Executive Officer of NUMed

On 21st September 2019, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed) turned 10. Since welcoming its first cohort of students in September 2009, this first international branch campus of Newcastle University has been delivering exceptional medical education in Malaysia, extending the legacy to the Southeast Asian region. NUMed’s global community of students, faculty, staff and alumni convened to celebrate this momentous milestone, which was marked by a medley of local cultural performances and moving speeches by international and local leaders in education. Prof. Baldwin imparted his thoughts on what he observed were the makings of NUMed’s success: the excellence of all its staff, both academic and professional; the cooperation between NUMed, Newcastle University, UK, and NUMed’s partners in Malaysia; and the openness and collegiality of the NUMed community, whether international or local.

The Founding Provost and Chief Executive Officer of NUMed, Professor Reginald Jordan, spoke fondly of his experience: “Having seen the NUMed project through the early development stages, our move to the region marked the culmination of much hard work. It was a most exciting, if somewhat daunting, prospect, with the challenge being to translate the planning blueprint into reality and to fully realise the NUMed vision.”

Fast forward ten years, and the FMS EDI Team and the School of Medical Education Academic EDI Lead have been proud to support colleagues at NUMed to form their own EDI committee comprising 11 members of staff, a mixture of PS and academic staff plus two students. The team at Malaysia took the initiative to hold discussions with their counterparts in Reading and Southampton prior to setting up the EDI committee. These two campuses, along with Nottingham and Herriot-Watt, do not have local EDI committees, as a result NUMed has been a trailblazer, as the first campus in the region to look at EDI from a local perspective.

The over-riding principles for EDI work at NUMed are not around replicating what is currently in place in Newcastle but ensuring that the work is relevant for Malaysia. In deciding on the priorities for EDI at NUMed, members of the EDI committee attended an event in February 2019 held at the British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce where the keynote speech around EDI was delivered by the Deputy Minister for Women, Family and Community. In this speech the four key EDI areas for the Malaysian government were highlighted i.e. gender, race, disability and language and it is these areas that the EDI committee have taken as the cornerstone of their current work.

We are proud of the role that NUMed plays in the success of the Faculty and the University. As Prof. Richard Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Global, of Newcastle University noted, “The real strength of NUMed lies in the talented and passionate people of the university with shared affinity, ambition, and dedication. With that, there is no doubt that the best is yet to come.”

 

 

Demystifying Leadership: Head of the School of Psychology (Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon)

As part of our Demystifying Leadership blog series, we’ve chatted to staff in a variety of leadership positions across the Faculty. To help you find out more about what a Head of School role might be like, I spoke to Professor Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon about her job as Head of the School of Psychology in FMS.

What are your main responsibilities in your role?

I lead and manage the School of Psychology. My role is quite diverse, but it primarily focuses on the learning and teaching experience. I work with approximately 35 academic members of staff (whom I manage directly) and about 11 or 12 admin staff to run and deliver a number of Undergraduate, Postgraduate Taught and Professional Training programmes under the School of Psychology.

What does an average day look like for you?

I don’t think there is an average day, to be quite honest. The largest amount of my time is spent strategically, making sure our School’s teaching plan is on track, and working with external organisations to ensure we have the right partnerships in place and that we’re developing new professional placements for students.

Another important part of my role is the leadership and mentoring of staff (academics, in particular). I review their personal development and manage any day-to-day issues, as well as the relationships between them. Due to the School’s recent growth in student numbers, I’m also often shortlisting or interviewing new academics to teach.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I particularly enjoy the mentoring of staff. Since beginning working with them, I’ve seen a number of them be very successful and receive promotions on the basis of learning and teaching. This makes me particularly happy, as it shows the University values the learning and teaching advancement process.

Additionally, as I know my staff very well, I’m able to look strategically at the School to find projects that would be well-suited to the skill set of a certain staff member. So, to then see them flourish in that project makes me very happy.

What made you want to apply for the role?

At the time, I was an associate Dean for Research at Faculty-level in another institution, where I managed research across a diverse range of disciplines. I had been looking to get back into my own discipline again, so this leadership role was perfect, and I’ve really enjoyed being back in Psychology. I also knew the University wanted this School to grow, so I was excited that there was real opportunity to make a lot of big changes.

What do you think is your biggest achievement so far in your role?

As a result of our growth as a School, the University has invested in a state-of-the-art learning and teaching space within a new building. It will include specialised teaching spaces, such as a forensic laboratory and a psychological therapies clinic. It will be a fantastic environment for all our students and staff.

I feel these new resources are a symbol of our recent success and the University’s belief and trust in me.

What learning opportunities have been available to you in your role?

In much of my career previous to this role, I’ve had to learn on the job, through trial and error, which has been a massive challenge. But within this role, I have done a senior leadership course, which was quite useful, and also a mentoring course, where I did learn a lot, even about myself.

Have you been supported by colleagues, mentors or training opportunities?

I feel extremely supported by the University and the Faculty, and there are some very approachable people with real integrity here. The PVC has been very willing to listen and develop strategic plans. I couldn’t have grown the School to in such a way had the University not resourced more academic posts and invested in a new building for us. This makes me feel as though I’ve been listened to and I’ve been trusted to drive this growth.

The previous Undergraduate Dean (Jane Calvert) has also been fantastic and she was my go-to person when I needed a sounding board. The Heads of other Units also provide peer support and we regularly talk and share advice. Finally, I get a lot of day-to-day support from my colleagues in my school, with whom I have very good relationships and are always there to help with whatever I need.

What has your role taught you about yourself?

My current role has taught me how good I am with people. In my previous job, I was trying to manage 400 people and was never able to get to know them as individuals. So, at Newcastle, I’ve had the chance to realise that I work very well with individuals when I can get to know them, and that I am able to bring out the best in people.

However, management also often involves some very difficult conversations, and I’ve learnt that I can handle this. I’ve become good at knowing exactly when you must put your own emotions aside and how to always maintain my objectivity in tricky situations.

What have you found more challenging in your role?

The diversity of things I have to deal with on a daily basis. We’re a complicated School with 8 Undergraduate programmes (previously we had just 1, when I started). Several of our Postgraduate programmes also involve quite complicated relationships with external organisations such as the NHS, so dealing with the changes in these organisations can be very tricky.

How do you balance the role with your research and/or external commitments (families, hobbies etc.)?

I’m not doing very much research now. I do some through PhD students, but this is importantly their research and not mine. However, I was aware of this when I took the role; it was a very deliberate move for me and I felt it was right for this stage in my career. I do also still do some teaching. In the autumn semester I teach on some of the Masters and Undergraduate courses, and I supervise some of their projects.

In respect to balancing my work with my home life, it’s all about flexibility. I feel I’m getting better at it as my children are getting older. When they were younger I had to work very flexibly and bring them into the office, and also worked at home and in the evenings. So now, by being able to work more in the office, it allows me a better balance and to keep home life more separate. As a School, we’ve agreed to restrict emailing hours, to control the quantity of email traffic being sent in the evenings and weekends. This is something I feel I’ve learnt from my own experiences, which will improve people’s work life balance in the future.

What advice would you give to your successor?

I would tell them to always value and get to know your staff, and to be flexible with them. For the School to flourish, you must get the best out of each member of staff, and this is often done by being willing to be flexible in terms of work-life balance. You can never have a firm rule, you must always do things on an individual basis.

Additionally, I would emphasise to never allow hierarchy within the team from junior to more senior members of staff. Everyone is equal and is respected. As long as they are doing their job to the best of their ability and helping to drive the School forward then I am happy.

Thank you to Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon for chatting to us about her role! We hope this has given you an insight into what being Head of a School might be like!

Demystifying Leadership: Faculty PVC (David Burn)

So, you think you could be PVC of FMS? 

 As part of our series, Demystifying Senior Leadership, we spoke to our very own PVC, Professor David Burn, about his role.

What are your main responsibilities?

Primarily, the day to day running of the Faculty, to set the strategy of the Faculty in consultation with others, and to be responsible to the VC and the Executive Board of the University.

That’s the attraction of a job like this; there’s obviously some structure to it, but there isn’t really an average day. Every day is different, and that’s what helps get you out of bed in the morning – it’s really great. They’re long days, there’s no question about it, but they’re very varied!

What made you want to apply for the role?

I know it sounds a bit trite, but I really felt I could make a difference!

Newcastle University has a fabulous reputation throughout all the region, and my family and friends nearly all live in the region. Trying to translate some of our great work out into the region, to make a real difference here, first and foremost, as well as beyond, is something I really feel passionately about.

What do you enjoy most about the role?

Probably the interaction with a large number of people. It’s really great to be able to talk to people, and to hear things, and to feel part of networks. I’m able to tap into lots of different sources, which means it’s uncommon that I hear something that completely blindsides me, and also means I’m able to take a helicopter view, to connect people in a way that they may or may not have thought about, which is such a nice thing.

I feel that a get a lot of job satisfaction from the role. It’s the little things, like trying to ensure people feel that their voices are heard, celebrating our successes, and just reinforcing the very positive, inclusive, and transparent culture we’ve got in this Faculty.

What’s the role taught you about the Faculty and University?

Well, it doesn’t get any easier the higher up the chain you get, that’s for sure! Processes, and systems, and ways of getting things through at University Executive Board can seem circuitous and tortuous and, at times, as opaque as when you’re putting in a grant in as a PI!

It’s also taught me that you’ve probably got to be quite broad church in your views, and a good listener, and broadminded. I get people coming in from all different walks of life and everybody has a slightly different agenda, or something they feel passionately about, which you have to accommodate. I’ve had to realise that sometimes you can’t always get everything that you want for your Faculty; that sometimes you have to do it for the common good of the University and take the important ‘One University’ approach.

What has the role taught you about yourself?

It’s taught me that I’ve got a greater capacity to do things than I thought, because I’ve never worked as hard as in this role, and I’ve never encountered more challenging situations!

I think it’s taught me that you’ve got to be, at times, a little thick-skinned, and realise, like Abraham Lincoln said, that you just can’t keep all the people happy all of the time. It doesn’t stop you from trying, but at times you’ve just got to do what you think is right.

What learning opportunities do you feel have helped prepare you for this role?

Learning opportunities are something that I feel are very important. I’ve been very lucky over the years, going back to when I was an Institute Director, or even before that, when I attended Leadership Development Courses and the like.

I also took myself off and had some discussions about strategy setting and had ongoing coaching. I’ve had an informal network of mentorship, which I’ve largely established myself, mainly through people outside Newcastle, and I’ve always found that to be very helpful. They are people who I look up to and respect, and who’ve always given very good advice – not just on work decisions, but on work-life things as well. I certainly see the value of mentorship, and am now a mentor myself through the Academy of Medical Sciences’ IHR Scheme.

What have you found most challenging in the role?

Most definitely it has been the sheer intensity of it, and the length of the days. A lot of time is spent Chairing meetings, so there’s very little downtime between and it’s very physically tiring.

Also, nobody likes confrontation or making tough decisions that will impact on people, but unfortunately, in a job like this, you just can’t avoid that. I think that’s something you always reflect on and think could I have done that better? Or: could I have had that conversation better? That’s been the element the role that I’ve lost some sleep over.

Where do you find support when facing challenges in your role?

You can’t beat your peer support group. This does shrink, the higher up the chain you go, so my main peer support is currently the two other Faculty PVCs, and I’m very blessed there as they are lovely people.

I would also count Julie Sanders, who was formerly the PVC in HASS, as a really great friend and colleague, to some degree a confidante, and a real source of good, sensible, impartial advice. I also I have huge respect for, and would count as a friend and colleague, the VC. For real get-away-from-it type of conversation, and to let off steam, I would say the other Faculty PVCs and the VC would be probably my best source of support there really.

Finally, I have a number of people who I can bounce things off and talk to, particularly within the Professional Staff and Dean Team here.

How to you balance the role with your research, hobbies and family?

My research has largely withered. If you want to be research or clinically active, a role like this really is not compatible sadly. To do it fully and thoroughly I think you’d struggle. I do carry on contributing to papers and outputs for people who work with me, but the amount of time you can contribute is difficult. I have other major external commitments. I’ve recently been appointed Chair of the NHSA Board, and am a Trustee of Parkinson’s UK.  I’m also President of the Association of British Neurologists, which is a pretty big job. So that’s squeezed out other internal things like research.

You should also never lose sight of your family. We don’t have children, but my wife is absolutely outstanding. She works full time herself and she’s incredibly supportive; the worst guilt I can experience is feeling that I’m not giving her enough time. Work-life balance is so important.

I’ve always loved running and cycling, I like keeping myself fit. I also really love listening to and making music, and trying to learn guitar. I’ve got it all mapped out for when I retire though. I’m going to do more photography, and I’m going to try to get music lessons and do some multitracking. And also, construct a model railway; I’m determined to build a real-life model based on a line in Ireland. I think it’s really important to have some little things to aspire to in the future in that way.

When your role finishes, will you miss it?

Hm, interesting question. I think the answer is yes, obviously I will, because of the intellectual stretch that it gives me; that is something that gives you quite a buzz. In some of the harder moments, or times when there’s been a conflict or confrontation, I guess at those times if you ask me that question, I would say I absolutely won’t. But by large, yes, I think most people would miss a job like this.

What advice would you give to your successor?

I would say be true to yourself and be your own person.

And listen to colleagues – you just can’t know everything. I’ve got a wonderful team of people at Dean-level and School Director/Head-level, and they’ve all got amazing skill sets. The success of the Faculty comes from that.

When it comes to appointing my replacement, it would be fabulous if we could have some really strong internal candidates from very diverse backgrounds. There are several people in this Faculty who can do the job, I am absolutely convinced of it. If I could help bring through people who are capable of taking a PVC role, and particularly women, that would be a great legacy to leave.

Thank you so much to David Burn for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak to us about his role! We hope this empowers you to take all opportunities for development available – you never know where you’ll end up!

Flexible Working: Christina Halpin

Continuing with our Flexible Working blog series, to raise awareness about the benefits of flexible working and empower you to feel able to talk about it to your line manager, I spoke to Amanda Weston, who works at the Campus for Ageing and Vitality, about her experiences working part time.

What role do you work part time in?

I’m a Research Associate (RA). In my current role, I’m working on a project that looks at the evolution of warning signals in insects and the design of those signals. Most of my time is spent either in the lab running experiments, or analyzing data and writing papers, but I’ve also supervised a number of postgraduates and project students over the years. I work 80% FTE over five days, on an extremely flexible schedule.

How have your hours changed over time?

I’ve been working 80% FTE since I had my son 9 years ago, to allow me to care for, and have more time with, him. Initially, when I returned from maternity leave I worked 4 days, Monday to Thursday, with Friday off. But as my son got older I changed my schedule so I was working the hours flexibly over 5 days, which I found a very easy change to make and it worked out really well.

How have you advanced your career while working part time?

I’ve never seen working part time as a hindrance to my career, or that it has stopped me achieving what I’ve wanted to achieve. After my PhD, I got my first RA role straight away, which I stayed in for 3 years before moving to an unrelated research role for a year. After that, I successfully applied for a Faculty Fellowship, which I feel has been my biggest achievement so far. Now I’ve returned to being an RA, but this was out of personal choice, and not driven by me wanting to work part time.

What advantages has working part time brought you?

For me, working part time has always been about allowing me to effectively balance my family and work life. It has allowed me to continue to pick up my son from school some days, and not have to always rely on after school- or summer clubs. Everything has worked out really well for me and I feel very lucky to have had this flexibility.

Where did you find support while working part time?

I’ve always felt supported in my decision to work part time, by both my close colleagues and my family. My supervisors have always been particularly supportive, and have made it clear that I would continue to be supported should I ever choose to decrease my hours further. I’ve also found the workshops I’ve done on grant writing and CV writing to be particularly helpful for career advancement.

What challenges did you face while working part time?

I haven’t really experienced any major challenges. Some busy weeks, I might find myself working what are essentially full time hours or longer, despite officially working 80% FTE, but I think that this is inevitable when you’re working in a research environment and running experiments. Overall, this hasn’t been a big problem for me and it has helped a lot that I’m able to be flexible with my hours from week to week, so if I work extra hours one week then I’m able to take them back in the next.

What single piece of advice would you give to others who are considering working part time?

If you’d like to work part time, you should carefully consider the flexibility of the role you’ve got and decide if it would be suitable to work in part time hours. For example, in a research role you need to be able to easily alter your schedule depending on what you’re working on. You need to think about the responsibilities you’ve got and what needs to change in order for them to fit into your proposed timeframe.

Thank you so much to Christina, and we wish her continued success working flexibly in her career!