Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Role models’ Category

Moving from diversity to inclusion by Dawn Bonfield. Last week to book!

Spend an evening with Dawn Bonfield MBE, who will present her case on Inclusive Engineering making inclusivity unavoidable. This approach ensures diversity will follow and is sustained. The steps include embedding Inclusive Engineering into university curriculums, changing our engineering processes and practices and adopting ‘bias interrupters’.

Dawn is a materials engineer by profession having studied Materials Science and worked in the aerospace industry. Her career spans; AERE Harwell, Citroen Research Centre (Paris), British Aerospace (Bristol), MBDA (Stevenage) and the Institute of Materials, Minerals, and Mining (London). She was previously the President and then the first Chief Executive of the Women’s Engineering Society, which works to promote gender equality. She founded, what has become, the International Women in Engineering Day, and the Top 50 influential Women in Engineering with the Daily Telegraph.

In 2016 she received her MBE for ‘Services to the promotion of diversity in engineering’. She now runs Towards Vision, which allows her to progress her own agenda, campaign, lobby, work her own hours and pick her own projects.

poster

Book now! Moving from Diversity to inclusion with Dawn Bonfield, MBE.

poster

Homeward Bound to Antarctica: Dr Deborah Pardo – by Raheela Rehman

Setting sail from Argentina, 76 women from 16 countries capped off 2016 with a 20-day voyage to Antarctica. This made the BBC news front page story; “Largest all-women expedition heads to Antarctica”. Homeward Bound, an Australian programme, is the brainchild of Dr Jessica Melbourne-Thomas and Ms Fabian Dattner. It aims to place women, with a science background, firmly on the global map to influence “policy and decision making as it shapes our planet”. The Homeward Bound voyage in parallel with lectures and leadership workshops, took its very first women to observe the effect of climate change close up.

czucaccweaabjzi

I thought I knew what Dr Deborah Pardo was about to present at Lucy Cavendish College. I expected a presentation about; her participation in Homeward Bound, her climate observations at Antarctica, how her research slotted into the programme’s objectives and to inspire the audience to push their boundaries. Yes, Deborah hit all four, but her unexpected “contagious optimism” set the room alight. She took our hands, pulled us into her world and we took our personal journey through her experience.

IMG_4597.JPG

Deborah’s professional roles took her from France (her home) to Sweden and most recently to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge, UK. Her research focus at BAS was on the demography and understanding the drop in the populations of three Albatross species (Wandering, Grey-headed, and Black-browed). She monitored the birds by tagging them with tracking devices and processed the extracted data using extensive computer modelling. During this time Deborah trained two PhD students and she also took maternity leave to have her son. A guilt-ridden 10 months followed as she was unable to provide full focus on both her research and family life. As a driven scientist she found it difficult being away from her work, but with no family support in the UK, the time away led to personal reflection on her work-life balance.

IMG_4600.JPG

She questioned the reach of her research papers. In the bigger picture, what impact would they have globally to help the Albatross species? The next step came naturally; intrinsic goals would lead to satisfaction and play as a catalyst for happiness. These goals included improving the environment and reducing consumption. The common denominator to create this global wave required half the population to engage, and that was to empower women to take a lead.

DP-3

In developing countries, women are the carers for their families, their children and the old. They hold a “quiet knowledge”, which glues the family together. Along with this central role, at times of crisis women are also the most affected – Deborah cited the Bangladesh floods of 1991, where 90% of those killed were women.

But it was also this “quiet knowledge” that women used in Western Africa, where Water Hyacinth had polluted the waterways. This removed the oxygen from the water, suffocating the fish and impeding the movement of boats. This halted trade and fishing for the local fishermen. The women removed the weed, using them to make ropes that they entrepreneurially traded, whilst freeing the waterways. Deborah explained that women work close to the ground and they are more aware and proactive to combating climate change.

Dr-Deborah-Pardo.jpg

She also pointed out the stark figures of women globally in positions of leadership:

  • Research | 28%
  • Politics | 27%
  • Business | 20%
  • Medical doctors| 16%

Leadership takes many forms and not just being the CEO. The knowledge within the person is the formative contributor to leadership and success. As a scientist, Dr Deborah Pardo followed her professional path, with rigorous evidence-based decision-making. As a female scientist, Dr Pardo believes that leadership decisions are taken collectively as a team, which is a key leadership capability. The economic case shows that when senior leadership is composed of greater diversity, the skills that women bring to the table strengthen the organisational performance.

C28MOq2W8AA-OYG.jpg

Prior to the journey, a year-long preparation involving; online training and psychological tests measuring the participants’ lifestyle were taken. She was also required to raise $16k (US dollars). Deborah rose to the challenge. One of the sponsors was the parent of a school child. Deborah was required to provide an educational video for the school in return for the sponsorship. She will also work with the school for three months.

Why Antarctica? Antarctica is an iconic symbol of the human impact on the world and grabs the attention of the media. The participants travelled by ship overnight to different locations, in the mornings after breakfast they went on land and returned for training in the afternoon.

IMG_4596

One of the lessons learnt from her Homeward Bound journey, was to question; “What can I really achieve?” Within a network, Deborah is in a stronger position to instigate, maintain and follow through for change. She will now act as a mentor to the next set of bright women who take up the challenge, including Catherine Sorbara, new Chair of CamAWISE.

By Raheela Rehman

‘Moving into management’ by Harriet Truscott

20150908--239It was another informative and entertaining session from Cambridge AWISE in April, when management trainer Kate Atkin joined us for a session on ‘Moving into management’.

From her attention-grabbing opening story about her first management role, the only woman manager in a well-known bank, to the team activity where she had most of us tangled up in string, Kate kept her audience engaged – and there was always a learning point to be grasped.

Several of us in the room had asked her to share her guidance on meetings, and particularly how to present a case effectively. Stepping back to ancient Greece, Kate called in Aristotle to aid us. Making a case, she argued, whether in an ancient Athenian law court or a modern boardroom, is a matter of three steps: ethos, pathos, and logos. ‘Ethos’, in these terms, is your own credibility. Are you a well known expert in the field? Have you held the job for a number of years? Have you carried out a relevant study? ‘Pathos’ is your ability to shape the audience’s emotions. As Kate pointed out, she’d used this very tactic at the start of the workshop: her story of life in the bank rapidly got her audience onside. And finally, ‘logos’, the logical argument. Put all three together – your own expertise, the rational argument, and an appeal to the audience’s emotions – and you’re primed for a successful meeting.

Other topics we covered included successful delegation, giving meaningful feedback, and turning difficult situations around through constructive conversations.

The biggest take away of the night, and one that those of us who never figured out the ‘string trick’ will find particularly memorable – if someone asks you to do a task, never shy away from asking them all the questions you need to do it!

Kate’s book, The Confident Manager, is available from her website, http://www.kateatkin.com.

Meet the Steering Group – Aldara B. Dios

 

What is your current profession/background?

I am a vocational product design engineer. Right now I’m working as a freelancer although I would love to work in a design company as part of a team. I’ve also worked as a web and graphic designer and have taught design during summer courses at the University..

What point in your life led you to pursue a STEM career?

In primary school, I had a wonderful maths teacher. He encouraged me and supported me. Maths was my favourite subject so I always knew I would follow a STEM career. For many years, I dreamed of being an astrophysicist. That changed but what never changed was that I wanted to study a STEM-related career.

What is one of your biggest aspirations?

As a product designer, I see myself as an inventor, a problem-solver and a designer. So my aspiration is to change people’s lives with a product I’ve worked on. I would also love to invent a product to wipe housework from women’s lives.

What advice would you give to aspiring female scientists and engineers?

Believealdarabdios.jpg in yourself, no matter what others may say. If you want to be an engineer… you work hard to be an engineer (it’s what I did when I was told that I couldn’t be an engineer because I was a woman).

Don’t let anyone treat you differently because you are a woman. Neither for good nor for bad (I never let my male colleagues do more work just because they felt they could or should). No surprise, you will be more respected.

Learn to program. Now! And… enjoy! Science and technology are so much fun! They answer questions, allow you to be creative, solve problems. You will never be bored.

How have you benefited from being a part of CAMAWiSE?

Being a woman in a STEM career is not always easy. Personally, being part of a group of talented women who have the same problems or share a similar path makes me feel better and helps me better understand the problems I had found in the way. It is very rewarding, as well, to know that you are working to help other women and girls. It’s also been very useful professionally, as I’ve met other women who have helped me in different areas from networking to CV tailoring.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Since I’m living in Cambridge I love riding my trike from the Fitzwilliam to the Round Church on a cold winter afternoon and enjoying the view of all the colleges. I also like to draw buildings, to read science fiction and to knit socks.

Ask me about…..
CAD, design, computers and my tricycle.

%d bloggers like this: