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Women in Science

The work the women did was varied and revolved around leadership, lab time, writing research applications and academic papers, postgraduate supervision, teaching, conference presentations and administration including emails and meetings. Many of the women acted as role models in their field and mentorship of early career researchers was an important part of their work.

Leadership

The more senior the role, the greater the responsibility for administrative work within the university although leadership involves other ways of contributing to science. These include ‘giving something back’ to junior scientists, having a strategic overview of their field and influencing debates and resource allocation by editing journals or sitting on funding committees.

Click for Helen's interviewAlthough Helen would like more time for her research, she finds her more senior role allows her to improve the research environment for her students and 'give something back'.

 

Click for Amy's interviewAmy finds the strategic overview her senior role provides allows her to see herself doing science in a variety of ways. She explains what she likes best about her work.

Everyday working

We asked the women we interviewed to give us an insight into their everyday working lives, what they did, what they enjoyed and what they wish they could do less. They told us that it often seemed there were no two days the same with a mix of lab time, research grant applications and paper writing, post graduate supervision, teaching, and administration including emails and meetings.

Managing this varied workload was not always easy, and it can be hard to say ‘no’ – especially if they suspected they were the only person available. Unsurprisingly most said they wished for less administration, especially the ‘bad’ kind, and more time on their research or with students, although some found the administrative and managerial work a rewarding way to ‘do science’.

Click for Kristina's interviewKristina is a member of a college, which brings certain responsibilities as well as welcome opportunities to meet people from different disciplines.

 

Administrative Work

What is administration in the context of being a researcher or scientist? We asked the women we interviewed what ‘administration’ they do. Their answers included a broad set of duties, tasks and responsibilities including project management, departmental management, finance, teaching administration, responding to emails and attending internal or external meetings. While some compulsory tasks were dismissed as ‘box ticking’ women found work such as sitting on funding committees, editing a journal, or attending college meetings more rewarding.

 

Click for Eleanor's interviewFor Eleanor, being a senior academic means less time in the lab and much more time doing admin, teaching, and going to meetings.

 

Click for Helen's interviewHelen's administrative work includes being a member of decision-making committees inside and outside the department or university.

 

Click for Tamsin's interviewTamsin's administrative time includes the various activities involved in being an editor on a journal.

 

Click for Julia's interview

Julia explains that research necessarily involves a degree of administration, but suspects that some of the 'box-ticking now required has little value.

 

Some women we spoke to thought that because woman are still in a minority at senior levels in STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) departments, and there is a desire to have better gender balance on committees, they could end up being asked to do more than their male peers.

Click for Priyanka's interviewPriyanka has been warned that it is important for senior women to feel that can say 'no' to some requests to be on committees.

 

Click for Judith's interviewJudith warns that you have to be careful not to get involved with lots of time –consuming committee work.

 

Strategies For Working

The women we spoke to had found various ways to manage their workloads – including maintaining a work-life balance – and the university bureaucracy.

Click for Helen's interviewHelen stresses the need to ensure she has 'protected time' away from meetings so she can engage with work that requires more concentration

 

Click for Amy's interviewAmy tries to pace her work throughout the week. She knows that she works best first thing in the morning and tries to do this when she has a deadline.

 

Click for Kristina's interviewKristina has found that it helps to take a flexible approach to the administrative processes.

 

 

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