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Wednesday
Jun202012

Help required please - Athene SWAN

I recently got asked if I would join the self-assessment team for the University of Sussex's Athene SWAN application. Now, in some ways I see this as a continuation of a role I had as a fourth year undergraduate at Cambridge. I was the women's cricket captain, and a surprisingly large chunk of the job consisted of sitting in committee meetings with the men (for the most part the club committee consisted of male academics) reminding them the women's team existed. I spent a lot of time asking questions like "what kit will the women have? It will need to be smaller." "where will the women stay?" "what coaching will the women get?" and so on.

The thing is, I knew exactly what we needed as women cricketers. In a lot of ways it was just the same as the men's needs, they just weren't used to remembering that we needed it too. My problem with this role is that I don't have a clear feel for what may be holding back women PhD students in the sciences. Any complaints I may have personally are not gender specific (and it could be argued that I'm not the most feminine female out there). So I'm asking: what are the things that you felt were barriers to signing up for a PhD? What would help you, as a woman, to do get the job done? Are you considering staying in academia, and if not why?

I'm sure there's good research been done on this already, but I want some annocdotal, qualitative feel for what's going out there. I'm not just looking for Sussex stories, I'm sure there will be plenty of overlap with other unis. All comments much appreciated!

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