The Medway School of Pharmacy is fully committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity within our staff group and student body. We believe this approach fosters a happier, fairer, and more productive environment for us all. Embedding equal opportunities for women and supporting career progression for women are integral to this.
- This reflects the priority that we feel should be given to enabling sustainable careers for scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians (STEM).
- Valuing and celebrating the diversity of our staff and student body, and making sure this can be sustained, is fundamental to the school's ethos.
- Gaining the Athena SWAN award is not an end in itself but will be an important marker for the progress we have achieved to date, urging us toward ongoing and continuing improvement.
The Athena SWAN Charter, launched in 2005, is founded upon the recognition that advancement of science is fundamental to quality of life around the world. It is vital that women are adequately represented in what remains a male-dominated culture.
Science cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population, and until women and men can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords.
- Action is required at all levels, including addressing the lack of diversity at senior/decision-making levels
- Sustainable careers for women is key, with issues including:
- high turnover among women scientists, with many women's careers faltering
- the post-doctoral stage appears to present particular obstacles for some
- short-term contracts make career progression, and retention, problematic
- This entails changing attitudes and organisational cultures
Any higher education institution which is committed to the advancement and promotion of the careers of women can apply for Athena SWAN membership and this process is being steered within the school by an Athena SWAN Committee, chaired by Head of School Professor Iain Cumming.
As well as advising the School Board, the Committee promotes diversity within the school and organises events. A series of lunch-time discussion meetings have been held, for example, focussing on issues like the challenges that can face parents and carers, and improving opportunities for promotion. The next key activity for the school's Athena SWAN team is to deliver on the action plan submitted in November.
Committee Members 2016/17
|Dr Alison Bratt
Lecturer in Pharmacology
|Dr Alison Edwards
Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry
|Dr Vadim Sumbayev
Lecturer in Biochemistry
|Dr Sarah Corlett
Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry
After departing Aberdeen, my studies at the University of Dundee (first class BSc Hons Chemistry, 1999) confirmed that chemistry was the thing for me. I moved onto bio-organic synthesis at the University of Oxford (DPhil, 2003) then pursued my studies as a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College London. In 2006, I started as a lecturer at the Medway School of Pharmacy.
While doing my postdoc, I took the time to do a teaching programme as well as assist at a graduate school for PhD students. This helped me with my PGCHE at Kent and I also enlisted my Director of Research as mentor to help me achieve a CChem through the RSC. These were all helpful at the outset but as time goes on, there is nothing that trains you like the annual rhythm of a university.
The main challenge I faced was trying to keep my research going while I was on maternity leave. My PhD student, her other supervisors, my research collaborators and line manager aided me in a relatively smooth transition into and out of maternity leave. I returned to work as 0.6 FTE as I wanted to ensure that my work-life balance suited me as well as my new family. It has also ensured that I focus more at work and I think this has, in a strange way, benefited my research. From speaking to many academic mums, the work-life balance can vary wildly but the key, I think, is that you do what you are happiest with.
Clinical Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice
I gained my undergraduate degree in Pharmacy from Bradford University. Once qualified, I worked as a hospital pharmacist for several years before deciding to undertake a PhD in Biological Chemistry at Imperial College London. On completion of my PhD, I held a postdoctoral research position at Imperial for almost a year before joining Medway School of Pharmacy in 2009.
The School is facilitating my transition from a post-doc to lecturer in many ways. I have two mentors, Dr Ruth Rodgers and Professor Peter Jeffries. Dr Rodgers helped me greatly when I first started; she introduced me to staff within the School as well as the facilities and resources available. Professor Jeffries provides invaluable guidance and support in all aspects of my research, as well as career advice and assistance. I have also completed the Postgraduate Certificate of Higher Education (PGCHE) training course, which has helped develop my teaching skills.
There were definitely some obstacles along the way in my early career development. When managing my MRC New Investigator Grant, I had lots of issues, which brought the grant to a halt. So, I had to be more resourceful to resolve these issues, some of which were related to research. I also discussed them with my mentor, Professor Jeffries, as well as my previous PhD supervisor at Imperial.
I would advise others starting their career in a similar field to be more adaptive and creative as you never know what comes next!
back to top
- University policies and procedures, including Family Friendly Policies, can be found on the HR website.
- Athena SWAN at the University
- The HR website also provides information on everything from induction and probation, to appraisal (RPD) and promotion.
- The University's learning and development opportunities are detailed on the Learning and Development website.
- The Unit for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (UELT) provide a range of services for staff and students that promote a high quality learning experience.
- Research Services provide a comprehensive framework of support for the University's research community.
- The Health and Wellbeing site contains information on topics related to workplace wellbeing.
- There are a variety of Networks available to staff:
External linksAthena SWAN
- About the Charter: http://www.ecu.ac.uk/equality-charter-marks/athena-swan/
- Resources (publications and factsheets, for example): http://www.ecu.ac.uk/equality-charters/athena-swan/athena-swan-resources/
- Women in Science UK & Ireland Fellowships - enabling women scientists to further their careers and facilitate world class research. Deadline: 14/03/14
- British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG) - promoting women's opportunities in education and public life
- Daphne Jackson Trust - aims to return researchers to their careers with confidence
- Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship (Royal Society)
- Funds for Women Graduates
- Wellcome Trust career re-entry scheme