On Tuesday the 2nd October I, and 40 other women, arrived at Lucy Cavendish for the first in a series of five WiSE UP career focused workshops. The idea is that through the course of the series, by coming to know ourselves a little better, recognising our skill set, learning to put our best foot forward and knowing how to get the best out of others we can all take stock and consider our options…….
For some this may be looking for a new job and for others it may involve switching careers altogether, taking the first step back into work after a break or indeed making the most of our current position. The world is our oyster apparently!
The evening began with caffeine and cake (is there any other way to start?!) and an engaging networking challenge which involved finding our place along the spectrum of careers in the group from ‘just starting out’ to ‘hey I might just have cracked this career malarkey’ (my personal viewpoint). The noise levels soon revealed that the group were keen to share experiences (!) and learn a few tips from others along the way.
The workshop itself was based around the concept of Career Anchors, a self assessment tool by Edgar Schein. Through a mix of interviews with a buddy and a personal questionnaire, the purpose was to identify how our motives, competencies and values relate to our career choices.
Book review: Dorothy Hodgkin- A life by Georgina Ferry
Last year Georgina Ferry gave a talk to Cambridge AWiSE. She has written biographies on Dorothy Hodgkin and Max Perutz. I bought a copy of ‘Dorothy Hodgkin- A life’ and really enjoyed it. I lent it to a crystallographer friend rather than writing the review straight away (which is a positive sign in itself). So here is a view of the book that has been mmm, left to mature… As I’ve said before, I quite like to structure blog posts around 9 points:
1. As a book it works really well, avoiding many of the pitfalls of a biography. There is a good balance between Dorothy’s life story and her science. Not too much foreshadowing of the greatness to come, the linear-with-time-format works well, especially as Georgina manages to still bring a twist in the tail.
2. Dorothy’s life is totally fascinating and she comes across as totally likeable but without any saccharine.
3. I did not know she suffered from arthritis. This made me admire her even more as she would have had no recourse to the drugs that us modern -day sufferers have!
So, what can modern day women in science learn?
Dr Tennie Videler, Co-chair of Cambridge Association for Women in Science and Engineering
Women are under-represented in employment in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM), both inside and outside academia. Even in the biosciences, where women make up over half of the undergraduates, women still account for only 15% of professors. In all STEMM subjects, qualified women are not retained in similar proportions to men with the result that women are severely under-represented in senior positions. For example, among science, engineering and technology (SET) academic faculty in the US in 2003, women comprised 18 to 45 % of assistant professors (26% lecturers and 18% senior researchers/lecturers in the UK in 07/08) and 6 to 29 % of associate and full professors (9% in the UK in 07/08). Not just in academia, but in general SET occupations, fewer women with undergraduate SET qualifications enter SET professional or associate professional occupations. Possible reasons for this are multi-faceted, not easy to solve, but worth exploring:
Cambridge AWiSE Steering Group chair – PENNY COGGILL
I have recently moved affiliation from the Sanger Institute to the EBI, also on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus at Hinxton, working as an annotator for a database of protein domain-families, pfam.
I have been on this Campus since I decided to return to work after nearly 30 years of living abroad, bringing up three children and a lot of voluntary work.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if I had known in 1999 what I know now about all the opportunities for re-training in Cambridge that AWiSE has encouraged and championed …well, I might not have applied to the Sanger, and I do love my job and the campus is a great place to work.
Professor Dame Sandra Dawson is a Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, professor of Management Studies at Judge Business School (which she pretty much founded and led for 10 years), and was the first female Master of Sidney Sussex College. She has previously worked in the civil service and as a researcher, lecturer and professor at Imperial College. She is now non-executive director of the UK Financial Services Authority as well as Oxfam.
I like to try and distill a talk I’ve listened to/ report I’ve read into a few ‘learning points’ (for historical reasons this has crystalised into 9, but I find it is just useful to have a number to whittle down to/ group into). So here are my favourite 9 points….