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Athena SWAN gender equality awards

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Athena SWAN gender equality awards

Athena Swan member logoAthena SWAN awards celebrate gender equality best practice in areas such as recruitment, retention, career progression and work environment.

We became a member of Athena SWAN in 2008 and were very proud to gain a bronze university award in August 2010. Since then, we have successfully renewed our bronze award and four departments across the University currently hold Athena SWAN awards. They are:

We are very proud to have added these departmental awards to our existing bronze university award, and we aim to continue to build on this success.

Read what some of our academics have to say about their stories, their diverse routes into higher education and what's great about working at Sheffield Hallam.

Mel Lacey – Senior lecturer

Athena SWAN Bronze AwardMelissa Lacey

Tell us about yourself

I'm married with two children, Ben who is five and Pip who is two. We live in Loxley which is really beautiful. We've got one foot in the city and one foot in the Peak District.

Having children takes up a lot of time, but in terms of other interests we like walking and climbing and just trying to be outdoors as much as possible.

That's why Sheffield is a beautiful city. It's very outdoorsy.

Tell us about your career and your current job

I'm a senior lecturer in microbiology. I work three and a half days a week at the moment to fit around my family.

I spend quite a lot of time teaching and I do some research as well. My research focuses on molecular microbiology, so finding out what the bacteria are doing inside their cells. I'm also interested in biofilms which is when bacteria form layers which can be problems in healthcare. If you get a layer of bacteria growing inside a device like a cannula it's really hard to get rid of them.

I did both my degree in biochemistry and then a PhD in microbiology at another university, and then went on to do a post doc in the same lab. Towards the end of my post doc I had my little boy and I went back three days a week just to finish off my contract.

That's when I started working at Sheffield Hallam. I got a part time temporary teaching contract which fitted my childcare really beautifully. I'd always fancied the idea of doing some teaching. I started and really loved it.

Then a permanent position came up. It was advertised as full time but they let me do it part time which was really good. I did that for eighteen months and then I had my little girl, and had another maternity leave. I've also just become Course Leader for the MSci/BSc Biology degree.

How have you been supported and developed at Sheffield Hallam?

Where I worked previously there was little evidence that women could work part time and still have a successful academic career. Then I got the job here and there were all these positive female role models who were working part time and being submitted to the REF and taking part in research groups. We've just got a culture of people working part time and I don't think people think if you work part time that you're skiving.

I've heard stories of people in other institutions taking their wedding rings off when they go to interviews and people making remarks about them being pregnant.

It's never felt like that here. When I was pregnant my department definitely looked after me and made sure I was OK.

Now I'm back I've been able to alter my hours to better fit my home life and my manager is very supportive.

What's the best thing about working here?

I really, really love it here. I like the pace of it and I really like working with the students. I get to teach across biology, biomedical science, biochemistry and human biology but also in nursing and operating department practice.

See Mel's academic profile

Susan Campbell – Senior lecturer

Athena SWAN Silver AwardSusan Campbell

Tell us about yourself

I'm originally from Dublin where I did my degree and PhD. I've got two children. A little boy, Conor, and a girl, Eimear. I returned to work full time after both maternity leaves.

Tell us about your career and your current job

After my PhD I moved to Manchester in 2002 to do post-doctoral work and became interested in how cells control the production of proteins during stress and also how you can visualise proteins in live cells using fluorescent tags.

I moved to Sheffield Hallam in 2009 for a career change, first as a senior technical officer in the Department of Biosciences and Chemistry. I'd done a management course in Manchester and the role allowed me to use those management skills as well as being involved in the day to day running of labs.

In 2013 an academic maternity cover opportunity came up. I'd done a little tutorial teaching as a post-doc and some lab demonstrating as part of my PhD - so I applied for that and got it.

It just gave me such great experience, teaching different classes from large groups of 150 students down to smaller tutorial groups and labs.

In July 2014 a permanent position became available and I applied and was successful. I'm currently a senior lecturer and module leader.

How have you been supported and developed at Sheffield Hallam?

My department has a great attitude towards flexible working, which will be important in the future when it comes to school for the kids. I know I can have a conversation with my line manager and we can discuss what's best in terms of my teaching, so I don’t feel that having children is hindering my career in any way.

The department have been really, really supportive. They've got a really positive attitude towards maternity. While I'm off I can use my keeping in touch days to come in meet with my PhD students to keep my research going, which is brilliant.

The other thing I really like is that my immediate senior role models are women, which is so inspirational. You know that such roles are achievable if you want them.

We also have a mentoring scheme which has really, really good in terms of thinking about my research. There's also the University mentoring scheme specifically for women called Aspire, which I'd like to get on in future.

And if a new progression opportunity comes up there's always an open process to apply for it. If you apply and aren't successful you always get feedback.

What's the best thing about working here?

I'm proud that I've been able to have a really good work/life balance, able to have children and keep up a research career. Sometimes having children is seen as a barrier for research progression.

I am very proud of how much I have achieved so far. I've had a PhD student now who's nearly finished his first year, he's presented at two conferences, I've been to conferences, I've chaired sessions at national conferences so I'm being recognised within the field.

See Susan's academic profile

Catherine Homer – Research fellow

Athena SWAN Bronze AwardCatherine Homer

Tell us about yourself

I work in the College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences, and I enjoy practising what I preach through being active, running and being outdoors.

I love my work but I am always on countdown to another holiday! Me and my husband are really into Formula 1® racing and we've travelled all over the globe following that.

Tell us about your career and your current job

As well as working part time at Sheffield Hallam I also work as a public health specialist - leading on obesity and fuel poverty - in Rotherham, previously for the NHS but now for the council. In 2011, as part of that role, I was part of a team led by Sheffield Hallam working on a study focussing on fuel poverty and older people. I was also completing a masters in public health at Sheffield Hallam at that time so I was enjoying developing skills and knowledge in research.

A part time research assistant job came up in the Centre for Health and Social Care Research (CHSCR), which was focussed on obesity. It seemed like a fantastic opportunity, working collaboratively with the NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector to do research, influence services and policy, and use my current contacts, knowledge and skills whilst developing a career in research. I applied and was successful.

Since then I've continued to work part time at Sheffield Hallam and for the council in Rotherham.

I was promoted to a permanent research fellow at the University in 2014.

The work I was involved with on obesity has also led to me being able to start my PhD. Once I've completed that in a few years, hopefully there will be the opportunity for further career progression.

How have you been supported and developed at Sheffield Hallam?

The academics work with are excellent, inspiring and extremely supportive. When I first started they made the jump to an academic career easier.

I've also had the chance to go to San Francisco to present at a research conference. I remember thinking, "If that’s what researchers call work, I like it!"

But obviously there's much more to my role than that. In fact, my first manager at the University told me that a researcher's jobs list never ends - and so far I've never managed to prove her wrong!

What makes you proud about the work you do?

I'm proud of the work I've been involved in, for example the Keeping Warm In Later Life (KWILLT) project. The project has been a fantastic journey and the outcomes have been highlighted in national policy and used by organisations from all sectors.

I've been able to use the findings from my public health role to enhance my own, and my colleagues', work at Sheffield Hallam.

The University also used my work as a case study in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF) and the project team have presented at various conferences. We've also secured funding to develop the work further.

What's the best thing about working here?

Working with people that I used to quote in my post graduate studies still amazes me every day!

There's a very good level of expertise and diversity of interests here.

There's also great variety and autonomy to follow your own personal research interests and work collaboratively with others to build on experience and knowledge.

My research centre is based in a converted house on the Collegiate Campus. The building is lovely and whatever time of year the surrounding grounds always look great. It’s a real treat working in a place like this.

See Catherine's academic profile

Jim Cherrington – Senior lecturer

Athena SWAN Bronze AwardJim Cherrington

Tell us about yourself

I do a lot of mountain biking. The Peak District is on my doorstep so it's really close and easy to get to and I try and keep as healthy and fit as I can.

I'm married with two kids. My daughter is three and my son is just over four months. They tend to be quite easy going kids so it's easy to get a work life balance.

Family holidays take on a whole new dimension when you've got kids though. Whereas we used to just sit round pools with a beer, now it's more a case of trying to find the next farm, petting zoo or toddler theme park!

Tell us about your career and your current job

I was an undergraduate student at Sheffield Hallam on the sport course that I now teach on.

I taught in a school when I graduated and then went on to do a PhD in Leeds. I'm originally from Coventry but I was keen to come back to Sheffield so when a lecturer job came up here I went for it and got it.

I was promoted to senior lecturer within two years which was a lot quicker than I'd expected. Now I'm a course leader in sport.

What I enjoy about teaching is that reciprocity between students and staff. Especially on a course like ours which is all about social inequalities and understanding a range of different experiences of sport including things like disability or racial, sexual or gender dimensions. It's nice being able to challenge the students' preconceptions of gender in sport and helping them understand different points of view.

How have you been supported and developed at Sheffield Hallam?

I've had the option to go part time and work flexibly to support my family. Just recently I considered going down to part time or working condensed hours and my managers were supportive. In the end I decided against it but it's good to have that option.

In terms of personal and professional development there are lots of opportunities.

I've been supported to develop my research interests. I did my PhD on basketball and have three publications in that area focusing on identity, embodiment and things like that. Recently I've moved on to some research with our Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) around the economic impact of outdoor recreation in Sheffield and the social, cultural and political impact of the Peak District. It made the local and national news and I presented it at the International Adventure Conference recently.

What makes you proud about the work you do?

For me getting the PhD was the pinnacle of my career. My background is not typical of others you meet in academia; my family did not have a lot of money when I was growing up and my parents worked long hours to pay for my education. I was the first one in my family to go to university. It's become a bit of a cliché but nonetheless it's something I am quite proud of.

The other thing I'm proud of is working at Sheffield Hallam. There are great opportunities for development and great people who are very supportive. Again, just that journey I've been on from that very humble background to where I am now - for me that's reason to be proud in itself.

See Jim's academic profile

Laura Cole – Lecturer

Athena SWAN Silver AwardLaura Cole

Tell us about yourself

I live in Doncaster. I'm married and we have one teenaged daughter. She swims to quite a high level and we spend most of our free time following her around with swimming galas. It's not so good at 4 o'clock in the morning when you have to attend those but one bonus is as soon as I get to work I'm buzzing because I've been up half the day!

Tell us about your career and your current job

It's been a bit of a rollercoaster!

When I finished my A levels I really didn't know what to do so I decided to have a year out and got a Saturday job in a hair salon.

Thankfully, after doing an access course, I had the opportunity in 2004 to go back to university to do a degree in biomedical science which was always my first love. It was something I always regretted not doing. Being an undergraduate student at 27 was hard because I was nine years older than everybody else and my daughter was five months old so I wasn't like the classic student.

I did a three year course without a sandwich placement, although I did do a summer placement here at the University to get some experience. After I graduated I decided I wanted to do a PhD but obviously they're quite competitive and hard to get so I just did some bar work for about six months.

A technician job came up at the University so I worked here again for a year and then I was offered a part time PhD alongside my technician job and I jumped at the chance. I've since become a research fellow.

In November 2015 I'm starting a lecturing maternity cover and my goal is to become a permanent lecturer.

How have you been supported and developed at Sheffield Hallam?

The University offered me flexibility so when my daughter was at primary school I could drop her off and then come in and do my work.

The best thing about my department is the people. Everyone is really helpful, really approachable. If I have a problem I can honestly say I could go and knock on any of the academic's doors, including senior staff, and say, "Can I ask you a quick question?"

Also, the department has supported my route into teaching. They trusted in me and thankfully it's paid off. Then because I've had good feedback from students and colleagues I've been able to keep progressing.

What's the best thing about the work you do?

Teaching is very rewarding and I absolutely love it. I like the fact that I can do research informed teaching, so the cutting edge research I'm doing I can weave in and pass that onto the students.

You're surprised when you start teaching how much you actually know. I love the fact that the light bulbs turn on when somebody learns something, I think that's fantastic. If you're confident and you can engage the students then they're interested in what you've got to say, and that's the job satisfaction.

And I love talking about the area I work in and the fact that I started off as somebody washing hair in a salon and then I've progressed through and managed to balance a family with a career. A couple of people have said, "You've really inspired me because I'm in your situation, I've got a young child and I didn't think I could ever be in that position".

See Laura's academic profile

Elizabeth Laycock – Professor

Athena SWAN Bronze AwardElizabeth Laycock

Tell us about yourself

I live in Sheffield with my husband Tim and our three girls aged thirteen, eleven and eight.

As a family we participate in medieval re-enactment so we spend time researching and making medieval clothes and shoes for ourselves and sharing living history skills within our group.

I work full time but also enjoy being a student, most commonly on an entirely unrelated subject. 

Tell us about your career and your current job

I started teaching part time at Sheffield Hallam in 1995 while I was doing my PhD at the University of Sheffield.  That led to a part time research assistant post and then to a full time lecturer post in 1996. In effect I wandered into teaching here but I liked it so much I stayed.  

The best thing about this job is that there are no 'normal' weeks.  One hour I can be timetabled to delivering a lecture to over 200 final year students, the next I may be in a 1-to-1 with a student on their dissertation and the next collecting data for research or consultancy work.  

How have you been supported and developed at Sheffield Hallam?

My main barrier to achieving anything is a long-standing susceptibility to clinical depression. I don't think my condition is very widely known about in the department as I am fortunate enough to be able to manage myself to a large extent,

When I've had to take time off because of my condition I've been supported and I've never been denied opportunities because of it. I'm able to work with my managers to inform them when I'm struggling with a particularly difficult episode. And of course the ability to work flexibly at times is great when I find dealing with normal life a struggle.

I've been able to access University funding to complete an MA in Further and higher education. I've also completed an HNC in Building studies in 2006 and an MSc in Building surveying.

The mentoring I received through the University's Aspire mentoring Scheme was a significant positive factor in my long term career and my personal self confidence.  Without the support of my mentor I doubt that I would have had the confidence and resilience to sucessfully become a professor.

What makes you proud about the work you do?

Every year I put a lot of myself into the teaching and support of students.  The student feedback I receive is one of the best rewards at the end of the year which make it all worthwhile. I've been nominated by students for inspirational teaching awards every year since 2011 and won one of the the University level awards in 2013.  I also feel exceptionally privileged to work with the colleagues I do across the Natural and Built Environment.  They inspire me to continue to improve my practice.

What's the best thing about working here?

I'm fortunate to be surrounded by some wonderful and supportive people. I still get the buzz from working with bright and enthusiastic people who are genuinely passionate about their subject.   Things are not always easy either within a professional or personal sense and it is important to feel part of a team.  

See Liz's academic profile

Bee Gan – Principal lecturer

Athena SWAN Bronze AwardBee Gan

Tell us about yourself

I'm from Malaysia. I came to Sheffield to study my summer top-up programme through a Malaysian college back in 2001. I really enjoyed myself here, loved the University, loved the staff here, loved the city and decided to stay longer.

I did a masters course here at Sheffield Hallam in property and appraisal management, got a job here after that and I've stayed ever since.

In my spare time I like to do a lot of crafting - so knitting, crochet, drawing and I'm going to start a pottery course soon.

Tell us about your career and your current job

I'm a principal lecturer and my role is international lead so as well as my teaching I look after international recruitment and business development. That involves securing partnerships abroad, for example in China and Sri Lanka.

I love my job. My role varies every single week. It's exciting and I enjoy the challenge and the variety. I travel a lot, visiting international partners or hosting them here at the University. Recently I've been on University business in Oman, Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Taipei and Hong Kong. I spend a lot of time flying!

The problem with the travel is that when I have my holiday I don't know what to do because I don't want to go to the airport again!

How have you been supported and developed at Sheffield Hallam?

As a non-native speaker, becoming a lecturer in the UK was a challenging transition, especially facing my former fear of public speaking and also adapting to a professional environment after being a student.

Looking back I have progressed a lot within my ten years here. I think I've achieved a lot and progressed and have been given a lot of support and opportunity.

My head of department has given me a lot of projects to do, and I've had the opportunity to shadow him and work across many different portfolios. I was encouraged to sign up to a mentoring programme. My mentor has been great and she's supported me a lot.

Within my department there are more men than women but I feel like the men see me as an equal and they encourage me a lot. Whenever I have any doubts about my ability to do the job, or start questioning myself, everyone is very supportive.

What makes you proud about the work you do?

This is a very rewarding job. When I was a student I really enjoyed my time and I absolutely had the best tutor I could ever ask for. The way they taught me made me feel like I wanted to do the same for the next generation.

Coming here basically changed my life. Never in my life did I think I could teach let alone teaching in higher education in the UK.

I'm proud when I get feedback from students that I've managed to change their mind-set, their perceptions, and they understand the subject even better and enjoy it. I even have some mature students ask me to tutor their children so I think that's probably my biggest achievement.

What's the best thing about working here?

The working environment is very diverse, very open minded. Students come from all different backgrounds. I think that's why I like it. We're open, we don't discriminate and we encourage everyone, and I feel like this is a very fair working environment.

I'm very lucky to work with some amazing people.

See Bee's academic profile

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