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“You don’t need to be artistic to be creative…”

event3-mediumIt’s 2:53am and that “Let It Go” song from Disney’s Frozen™ is running around my head, to accompany the sound of my youngest waking up, coughing and crying for the third time tonight. Perhaps the reason for this choice of earworm could be literal – I’m really quite cold now having got out of bed so many times – but more on that later.

Having missed so many of the great talks and workshops recently, I was excited to be attending Unleash Your Creativity, our April networking evening at Lucy Cavendish this week. Our very own Tennie Videler is used to providing training from her Vitae days so she launched in with her usual flair … and even a little ballet hop.

Tennie started off asking the room what we thought being creative was, and pounced on the suggestion that it was all about being artistic, and the counter that it was about thinking outside of the box. No, she said, artistic certainly helps but you don’t need to be artistic to be creative. She also asked us to indicate who had attended (a) because we thought we were creative, or (b) because we thought we weren’t – and then went on to say some people were “adaptive” (climbing ladders) and others were “creative” (haring up rock faces). Creative people take risks but “have a splendid time doing it”.

Ideally we could be both types of people, but the trick is to recognise which is your dominant character, then find others to work with who are the opposite of you.   We went through some exercises based on the ENTRE (ENquire, Transform, REalise) model which seems a great (oddly rigid but effective) way to zoom out/go wide with ideas, then bring you back into focus, go wide-focus, then narrow again. Three times apparently is the recommended cycle.   First we spent some time reframing Tennie’s question “How could AWiSE get more members?” which had our little group going round in circles with whats, whos, wheres, whens, whys and hows. Interestingly, while our final questions were worded differently, we were asking the same thing, eventually.

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We’re recruiting…

Self Employment Opportunity (part-time): CamAWiSE Coordinator

CamAWiSE is seeking a part-time self-employed Coordinator to provide high quality support to CamAWiSE and its members in collaboration with the Steering Group.

The successful candidate will have a STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) background, a positive, friendly attitude and good interpersonal skills. They will need to be self-motivated and able to work independently as well as with a wide variety of people. The applicant should have excellent administrative skills (including MS Office), good communication and writing skills, active use of social media and be confident in using internet applications. Experience of events organisation and maintaining websites would be an advantage.

Key responsibilities will include:

  • responding to email enquiries and taking action as necessary, or forwarding to appropriate steering group members
  • writing and circulating the CamAWiSE e-bulletin (approx. fortnightly)
  • organising, publicising and attending events; writing up meeting reports and collating event feedback
  • reporting back to the CamAWiSE steering group regularly and attending steering group meetings (every six weeks, in the evening)
  • maintaining and updating the CamAWiSE website, Twitter feed, Facebook page and LinkedIn group
  • liaising with members regarding membership enquiries and renewals, and maintaining the membership database


Hours of work per week will be flexible (1-2 days per week). Evening work will be required for meetings and events. The successful applicant would be self-employed and work from home using their own equipment. The contract will initially run until July 2014 and there will be opportunity for renewal for a further 11 month period (Sept 2014-July 2015). You will receive a fee of £4,500 over an 11 month contract. Term-time working would be acceptable.

This position offers a great opportunity to develop your skills and has proved a springboard to new opportunities for our past coordinators.

To apply please send your CV, contact details for two references and covering letter to with “CamAWiSE coordinator” in the subject line.
Informal enquiries can be made to Penny Coggill ( or Anne Clarke (

Closing date 5/4/14. Anticipated interview date is week commencing 14/4/14.

Is nurture or nature the cause of under-representation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)?

A view from academia…

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published their report on ‘Women in scientific careers’ on Thursday the 6th of February after consulting 90 written submissions, including one from Cambridge AWiSE, and 13 witnesses including academic researchers, diversity and equality groups, universities, research and funding councils and the Government. Reading this report as an early career biomedical scientist, was oddly shocking and encouraging at the same time. The Committee points out problems many young scientists will recognise, but adds that these problems have long been identified and despite serious efforts have not ceased to exist.

The Committee explains that the UK economy needs more skilled scientists and engineers. To meet this need more women will need to be retained in STEM careers. The Government currently focuses on inspiring young girls to choose a STEM career.

Penny lends a helping hand

The Government aims to increase the number of women in STEM by inspiring young girls to choose a STEM career, like Penny does here at the Cambridge AWiSE stand at the 2013 Cambridge Science Festival.

However, although this may increase the input, this does not stop women from gradually disappearing higher up the career ladder, the so-called ‘leaky pipeline’. Thus, nurturing girls into actively pursuing a career in STEM for some reason does not lead to a larger representation of women at the top. Can this have something to do with the female nature? To my pleasant surprise the Committee actually touches upon this in their report.

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Profile: Marloes Tijssen – Research Fellow in Megakaryocyte Biology

Cambridge AWiSE steering group member – Marloes Tijssen

Marloes_TijssenMy first experience with Cambridge AWiSE was when I came to 2nd Career Development Day in June 2012.  This was such an inspiring event that I decided to also sign up for the WISE UP Career Series. The workshops and networking events motivated me a lot. This made me want to share my own experiences and help CamAWiSE with the work they did, which is why I joined the steering group in June 2013.

I started working in Cambridge in 2008 after completing my PhD in Amsterdam at Sanquin, the Dutch blood transfusion service. My research interest has always been how blood platelets (the cells that clot the blood) are formed in the bone marrow from their “parent cell” the megakaryocyte. I was first funded by a grant from the Dutch government and then went on to a Marie Curie Fellowship from the European Union.
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“And what do you do?”

These are the words which I most dread hearing, at any gathering, be it social or business. Why? Because I’m convinced before I utter a single word in response that I’m boring the pants off the person who asked the question. Because I can anticipate their eyes glazing over before I start. And, crucially, because I’m no longer passionate about what I do for a living. As we discovered at our Winter Networking event, being passionate about what you do, and being able to describe why you love it, is key to ensuring the other person remembers what you’ve told them.

Adelina Chalmers

Adelina Chalmers

Who better to invite to our networking event than Adelina Chalmers, CEO and founder of Presenting Good Practice? Adelina is most certainly passionate about what she does; Read more


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