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Job Sharing seminar at the Babraham institute

The biggest challenge for women wanting to progress in their careers in STEM is achieving a Work-Life Balance (WLB). That was the principal idea behind a survey The Babraham institute sent to all its workers. The majority enjoy their research but they are not happy with the number of hours they have to dedicate to it. 

With this idea in mind the Babraham Institute and CamAWiSE organised an event for people to see the benefits of job-sharing for their own careers and to learn more about CamAWiSE and the work we do supporting women in STEM.

Penny Coggill, a CamAWiSE Steering group member, launched the event. She introduced CamAWiSE, our history and our aims to the audience – from The Rising Tide report that led to our foundation to our monthly events. Later, she also took part in the panel discussion. 


Penny Coggill

Sarah Horsfall, the founder of the job-sharing platform Ginibee, informed us about the advantages and challenges of job-sharing. In job-sharing two people alternate the work schedule and share the responsibilities of one full time job. This gives the employer the advantage of a full time employee, while the partners in the job-share only work part time. For the worker, it also helps with problems like the maternity wall and the gender scissors effect. Other advantages are an improved productivity, a broader and deeper experience, complementary skills difficult to obtain otherwise and an inherent contingency backup.

Post docs Sarah Burge and Claire Senner shared with us their experience as job-sharers. They told us how they complemented each other and brought different knowledge to the partnership. They also made clear that job-sharing is not without challenges like feeling productive while working only two days a week, keeping a tissue-culture going, or missing the lab daily life. But, after 18th months they both recommended the experience and hope for a long partnership. 

Sara Burge

Sarah Burge

During the panel discussion some interesting issues emerged, like the necessity of sharing the plans and expectations with your job-share partner, the importance of the company’s support and the need to test the partnership as soon as possible. 

Thank you to Penny Coggill and Laura Norton for organising such an interesting and relevant event. 

Aldara B. Dios






September Social at the Castle Inn

Join us for a meal at:

The Castle Inn

38 Castle Street

Cambridge CB3 0AJ

Tuesday 20th September 2016. 

No need for payment in advance. This is a social and all are welcome.

Reserve your place at Eventbrite:

if you would like to come along and pay for meal/drinks on the night.

7.30pm start for food or just join in for a drink at 7.30/8 onwards.

We do need numbers for those coming so please register as soon as you can.

CamAWiSE Media event with Don Powell

Mail AttachmentOur much-anticipated ‘Media’ event took place on 14th June with media consultant, Don Powell, helping a group of us to peek behind the scenes of a press office.

Previously of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Don was their first Press and PR Officer in January 2000, just as ‘genomes’ were hitting the headlines.

Don gave out a selection of newspapers and asked us to consider “What is News?” We all selected one story of interest to us and considered what made us choose that story. Was it pithy, sad, funny and/or did it resonate with us personally?

Much fun was made of certain newspapers but we were made to question our own views. A press officer would be unwise to discount these papers due to their huge circulation figures (the Daily Mail Online has a massive audience for example). We learnt that taking out technical jargon is not dumbing down science stories – it simply helps the journalist to talk in laymen’s terms at times!

How to engage with journalists was very interesting and I was able to compare how things are now to how they were when I worked in trade magazines over 10 years’ ago. Changes in technology mean that journalists are stretched and are often writing for at least two titles or are covering one huge subject themselves. Building relationships is key as is giving journalists what they want: interesting stories, ideally with a case-study, and publish-ready graphics. Don suggested looking at the New Scientist for an example of what is being published and how.

No stranger to a press release, Don took us through the content and timings of a news release in detail including the importance of lining up the possible questions and answers that you may well get if a story is picked up. As well as good content, usually contained in the first two paragraphs, the key message was to make it visually exciting for the reader.

Don’s own litmus test when getting people to be succinct about their work is if they can describe it to his (93-year-old) mum in three easy to understand ‘steps’ or sentences.

It was fun to hear people try this and we waded in with some good old q and a’s to test the theory. Why is methane rising? And why does it matter? Two of the questions fired at a volunteer speaker!

Don wrapped up the evening with a note on embargoes and advice on his own timings: plus why he sends releases in advance to key journalists and why third party endorsements are so essential.

And the end result of all this hard work with the press releases is hopefully the interview. Skills for being interviewed were touched on – get some training was the suggestion and be honest, open and truthful but also be in control: don’t be tempted to fill a silence!

What makes a good press officer and why bother to communicate well? Don asked these two questions to conclude the session. My take-home message was that the good work that we are all doing should be shared with as wide an audience as possible and that to do so well means drawing out the essence of the story.

And the same could be said about a journalist’s ‘reason to be’ too.

Thanks to Don for such an illuminating and fun event.

Gayle Sullivan

Want to know about our upcoming workshops, socials and other events?

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You don’t have to be a member of Cambridge AWiSE to sign up. However, if you are a member, we do urge you to sign up to the mailing list as it is our main method of keeping people up-to-date with what’s going on. You can, of course, unsubscribe any time you like.

To sign up, all you have to do is send an email to, with subscribe in the subject. Why not do it right now?

Thank you!

‘Building a Business Case for Diversity’ online game evening with Dr. Suzanne Doyle-Morris – by Gayle Sullivan


'New Opportunities Building the Business Case for Diversity'
When I first heard about the work of Dr. Suzanne Doyle-Morris: ‘serious games’ workshops to explore issues around subjects, in this case ‘Diversity’, I was intrigued.

On 17th May, I got to have a go myself as Dr. Doyle-Morris, former member of CamAWISE, author and a professional business speaker, travelled from Scotland to run a workshop using an online role play game as a springboard for live discussion.

Why ‘business’ case for diversity? The reason it is ‘business’ is that this is quite simply the best way to explain to people in business that it makes sound financial (as well as moral) sense to operate from as diverse a platform as possible. Suzanne had plenty of statistics to back this up but back to the game!

Our task was to work in threes to help ‘employees’ in an online game to make decisions about how to investigate diversity issues in their workplace and how best to implement changes to better meet the demands of today’s consumers. As in all the best decision-making games (and sometimes books) there were a number of endings, based on which answers you chose.

There were lessons along the way including the importance of keeping the men in the discussion (around issues including women/men ratios). “Don’t just tell people what to do” was the advice of an experienced person there to help the male, who had little – if any – experience of diversity studies. People will have their prejudices but the key lesson I learnt was not to wait until you have the perfect plan: get on with it and start the plan. Don’t wait and stall for small, petty reasons or the fear of being accused of tokenism by people nervous of change. ‘Buy-in’ to these issues is important but so is ‘focus’.

As this was an interactive workshop, attendees also shared examples of how they’ve seen these issues handled before: it was very interesting to hear issues around equal pay and maternity leave from participants.

Throughout the evening were statistics to illustrate the importance of the business case for diversity. For example, that 70-80% of consumer decisions are made or ‘heavily influenced’ by women or maybe more concrete, that by 2020, 53% of women will be millionaires (currently 46%).

We were fortunate to have insights from a professional business speaker and this game is just one of Dr. Doyle-Morris’ library of serious games workshops she’s created on diversity and inclusion issues since her departure to Scotland from Cambridge to set up the InclusIQ Institute.

Thanks to Suzanne and to all those who attended and contributed to discussions around issues of ‘Diversity’ and fairer workplaces in general.

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