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Annual Equalities and Wellbeing Lectures

Each year we invite someone to give an annual lecture to the department on a subject related to equality and diversity.  We have three stimulating and interesting lectures already given by the following people.

Professor Tom Welton 

Professor Tom Welton was the Inaugural Equalities & Wellbeing Guest Lecturer.  During this landmark event Tom candidly discussed diversity in academia, inclusivity in departments and how individuals can create a positive workplace environment.  He drew many examples from his personal experience as chemist and research associate, and as head of a department which achieved an Athena SWAN Gold award.  In addition to enlightening and entertaining the audience, Tom showed a passion for equality and provided many ideas to get any department started down a path of positive growth.

Professor Tom Welton, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College London 

Professor Michelle Ryan 

Professor Michelle Ryan delivered the second lecture on "Is there an opt-out revolution? Understanding how context shapes women's ambition." She explored the tendency for women, and members of other minority groups, to be more likely to opt­out of some career paths due to a perceived innate lack of ambition and commitment. She disputed this theory with data from different populations and suggested that this feeling in women is driven, in large part, by the lack of desirable and attainable role models in leadership positions. She spoke eloquently on the importance of a "fitting in" process for women in science and outlined ways to encourage all members of a department to feel like they have fitting role models.

Professor Michelle Ryan, Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology at the University of Exeter 

Baroness Young of Old Scone 

Baroness Young's lecture was entitled Tap dancing on the glass ceiling.  She talked about her illustrious career, which started in the NHS before moving into the conservation and environment sector and then later into the world of politics at the House of Lords.  The lecture tracked this career and the things she had learnt that made her a successful woman. 

What had made her successful?  She claimed that in first place serendipity had played a part.  Early in her career in the NHS, she had been in the right place at the right time.  However, she went on to say that what got her noticed was asking a pertinent question at a lunch-time meeting that then led to a new opportunity. 

Self-awareness, networking and confidence were all attributes that had helped her progress in her career. Passion and being distinctive were two key elements that contributed to her confident attitude.  However, she admitted that for her she stood out in her early career largely because she was the only woman in a male-dominated world. 

She congratulated the department on attaining their Athena SWAN Silver Award and said that this kind of initiative instigates change and progress.  She admitted that in terms of gender equality and ethnic diversity universities were lagging behind other institutions, and there was still much work to do.

She detailed the House of Commons recommendations for gender diversity in recruitment: unconscious bias training, mentoring schemes, flexible family working patterns, exit interviews, gender parity on shortlists.  Many of these the department does already, largely because of the Athena SWAN process it has undertaken. 

Baroness Young of Old Scone