Wednesday 02 October 2019
Theme: Interview skills: What to do and what not to do!
Friday 27 September 2019
Special event media training: What makes a good press release?
Friday 02 August 2019
Theme: Understanding permanent leave to remain, EU settlement and your leave entitlements (parental, sick and bereavement).
We were joined by our HR immigration specialist Helen Belcher to discuss indefinite leave to remain and the EU settlement scheme, continue reading the blog post, and our HR adviser Ruth Baker who will talk to us about sick leave, parental leave and bereavement leave, continue reading the blog post about leave.
Wednesday 31 July 2019
Women in Gaia: from early career researchers to leading experts.
- Prof Ros Ricakby: a biogeochemist from the University of Oxford,
- Dr Helen Czerski: a physicist and oceanographer at UCL and television presenter,
- Dr Kirsty Lewis: a Climate Science Advisor at DFID (Met Office secondee), and
- Prof Molly Scott Cato: a politician and Professor of Strategy and Sustainability.
- What is a career anyway?
- How do family and academic commitments change with time?
- Does the university institution favour men?
- Is the “boys club” still a problem?
Thursday 6th June 2019
Wednesday 5th June 2019
Friday 3rd May 2019
Theme: Writing successful proposals
Some key points from our discussion:
Keep an eye out for opportunities for both blue-sky research and targeted calls which you may be able to work existing ideas into. Know your funding agency/agencies! Be flexible and chase opportunities. Research investment changes focus over time so consider which areas are growing and how your interests can fit into that. Think about research gaps and potentially create your own opportunities (e.g. NERC highlight topics). Be aware that more specific targeted calls are likely to be less competitive than regular grants so are worth devoting time to seeking (i.e. don’t just focus on fellowships and standard/large grants). Ensure proposals to targeted calls are focussed specifically to fit the call.
GREAT IDEAS AND ACHIEVABLE GOALS
Keep thinking about big ideas throughout your career (not just the project/s you are doing now!) so that you are consistently developing ideas that can be developed into proposals. Stand-out novel ideas are likely to do well if the proposal is well put together. Make sure your proposals are clearly and quickly understood by non-specialists (reviewers may be experts in your field, panels won’t be). Make sure your goals are achievable as proposals will be criticised for being overly-ambitious.
The art of writing is very important so it is worth attending courses and learning how to write well. Get involved with proposals as early as possible to learn how your senior colleagues put them together. Get as many people to read your proposal as possible and integrate feedback – peer review with colleagues and work friends is a great place to start. Make sure you are focussed on the importance of the big picture when putting together your proposal. Helen Butler in IIB has put together a document on frequent criticisms of NERC grant applications – ask Andy Watson for a copy so you can avoid making common mistakes.
Work with senior colleagues on grant applications. If you are moving areas, collaborate with current experts to put together a proposal with your new enthusiasm and their expertise. In any case, if you are not top-class in an area and likely known to your reviewers, then collaborate and impress them with letters of support from experts. Regarding worries about your publication record:for fellowships typically an ‘ideal’ CV would have a very high impact publication but also ‘meaty’ ones, so a well-rounded publication record is a great asset. On collaboration – learn networking skills and never be afraid to approach senior academics who will likely be very interested to hear about your ideas and work. There are people in IIB at University of Exeter who will also be able to advise and help with aspects of grant applications.
KEEP AT IT!
Talk to your director of research to express your intent to write a proposal. Lots of schemes will limit the university to a certain number of applications so you may have to go through an internal sift process first. It takes a LOT of TIME to put together excellent proposals. If you aren’t initially successful, be resilient and keep working on it, reuse, recycle and make it better – if you have good ideas, eventually you will be able to integrate them into a successful proposal.
Friday 12th April 2019 – Special Event
Friday 5th April 2019
Theme: Ambition with Intent
- Discover what you’re passionate about. Keep in mind that finding what you like is the hard part, so be patient. Your interests will likely change with time and experience too. It is okay to change your mind and re-evaluate as often as you want.
- Finding these authentic interests will motivate your work and make you a better scientist. Instead of just repeating the same dogma, you will find you are able to communicate your perspective more easily and engage others in your research.
- These authentic interests are critical for your future grant (and paper) success.
- If your ambition is “success” in a vague sense you may struggle to find your purpose.
- Research passion helps overcome many of the Imposter Phenomena feelings.
- It is okay to pivot in your careers if what you’re doing is no longer interesting to you. Embrace it and find your new passion.
- Don’t ever be apologetic for the choices you make while in a position. If you’re doing outreach, model development or working to improve your research community, then sell these as your strengths and how they have helped you as a scientist.
- If you think that you will write N papers during your lifetime — make the most of each opportunity. If you pay attention to your deepest interests, each paper will have some component of your ‘voice’.
Also keep in mind that these are ideals. During our careers we may find ourselves doing tasks (or even jobs) that we don’t want to do. We have to keep in mind that we need to pay the bills and that is often a higher priority than an ideal job. In this situation, the task is to integrate components into your job which you are passionate about and look toward opportunities to move into positions you are more passionate about.
Friday 8th March 2019
International Women’s Day morning tea.
WiC, Natural Sciences Equality Network and Women in Physics hosted a morning tea together to celebrate International Women’s Day #IWD2019.
Friday 1st February 2019
Theme: Our first book club – Inferior by Angela Saini
- Before reading inferior, did you assume there was a ‘male brain’ and a ‘female brain’ and if so which gendered brain can you relate to more? (ie did you unknowingly fall into the social stereotype of a gendered brain?)
- Anyone take offense to the psychological description of men as being logical/systemiser and women as emotional/empathisers?
- What else do you think holds back women from taking on the top science positions? (listed in the book include: imbalance of household duties, pregnancy/childcare, gender bias. sexual harassment)
- Are we in a new wave of feminism? (First wave: suffragette movement in the early 20th century for the right to vote and own property. Second wave: sexual liberation, domestic living and birth control during the 60-70’s. Third-wave: individualism and diversity during the 1990s. Fourth wave: inequality in all areas post 2012.)
- Were you aware of the gender bias in drug trials?
Friday 18th January 2019
We had an open theme for this months meeting. We discussed upcoming activities, reflected on what meetings we enjoyed last year and discussed ideas for future meetings/events. If you have any ideas, we would love to hear from you.
Friday 30th November 2018 (early December meeting)
- Seek out opportunities for leadership training. Do not wait until you’re managing or supervising others to get training. Training can benefit you collaborations, your interactions with colleagues and supervisor. It is also an important way to learn to see things from other peoples perspectives and which styles of communication work in different contexts.
- Working on the IPCC report is a different style of leadership. Your working with people you do not know, at different institutes and with broad cultural differences. It is also a shared leadership role ie leadership by committee which presents new challenges.
- Part time working. Helene works part time and tries hard to ensure we does not exceed her 24 hour week workload (but its hard to do it). Work life balance is key! She has the same management load as if working full time. She delegates a lot of science ideas and tasks to her team. As a result writing papers has been the hardest part of working part-time.
- What do you wish you knew as an ECR?
- Be more confident and believe in yourself.
- Work/study abroad if you get the chance.
- Get a mentor, this starts with inviting someone for coffee and seeing if you click. Do this more than once until you find the right person.
Friday 9th November 2018
The theme for this meeting was: Outreach. We were joined by Dr Tom Powell from Geography who has been involved in many different outreach projects. Tom’s motivation for doing outreach comes from a desire to impact people beyond his academic contributions and to remove barriers between the university and the general public.
Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to work out what is your motivation for doing outreach. Here is a brief summary of the points we covered. See the outreach blog page for a more detailed summary and of a list of interesting projects and people to contact to get involved in local outreach activities.
- Your task is to anticipate the audience you’re aiming for and what groups you want to engage with.
- Outreach is not a one way interaction. It will teach you how to describe your science simply thus making you a better academic communicator.
- Outreach can be a great way to help with your mental health.
- Merging art and science is a very powerful approach for communication eg Climate Stories.
Wednesday 31th October 2018
One-off seminar on open data management – Thanks to Dr Adrian Champion for organising the follow up to the page charges and open access on 31st Aug (see below).
Our Research Data Officer Dr. Chris Tibbs gave a seminar on how to manage and make available your data. Here are the slides from the seminar. Please continue reading the blog post which summaries the key points from the discussion.
Friday 5th October 2018
- Work with people you enjoy talk to. It will make it more enjoyable and more successful.
- Big conferences are not the right setting to meet people. Smaller workshops are easier.
- Don’t start a collaboration with the sole purpose of starting a collaboration. Seek out new introductions and talk to people about their science.
- If you enjoyed someones paper, talk, poster… Then tell them!
- The most successful collaborations are with people who are asking the same research question. Then it is something you can work towards together.
- Don’t worry about time zones or country separation. This won’t impede.
- Open communication on both sides is essential.
- Industry applications: Offer first a project idea and start to work with them. Then ask for money after you have established their needs (not yours) and how you can help.
Friday 7th September 2018
- As in our part 1 on imposterism, Chris also agrees that using “syndrome” makes it sound like a condition. This does not need treatment and as such is not a syndrome.
- If you’re respected by your colleagues you’re less likely to feel like an imposter. The respect is perceived in terms of engagement in technical conversation and in asking for guidance or your opinion.
- Keep in mind that asking non-work relevant guidance can make things worse not better.
- In male dominated workplaces, men are more likely to internalise their sense of belonging. Women in these environments feel like they bring with them the stereotypes of their gender. This is not just a gendered issue. It is the same for all minorities.
- In male dominated board room contexts, men are more resilient to having their ideas openly criticised or being interrupted. But women internalise this more as it is hard to know if gender contributed or not.
- The “stereotype threat”: women perform worse at tasks when they are a minority, feeling weighted down by the stereotypes of their gender.
- Gender is not directly linked to the imposter phenomena. All genders are susceptible. But in a male dominated workforce, in which climate science this is often the case, the gender distribution can contribute to imposter feelings.
Don’t second guess everything. Instead take this it as a reminder to check yourself – am I asking the right person and for the right reasons.
Friday 31th August 2018
One-off seminar on page charges and open access.
The UK Research Councils (UKRC) do not pay journal page charges. So how do I get a manuscripts published in a fee paying journal if I can’t charge the fees to a grant? Imogen Ward-Smith and Caroline Huxtable from the libraries Open Research team gave an excellent seminar the focused on the following key questions such as:
- How do I apply for a fee waiver from the journal? (i.e. to be exempt from paying page charges)
- Can I apply to the library to cover the page charges?
- Why do I need to upload manuscripts to Sympathetic?
- What can I put on Research Gate or my academic website?
Friday 3rd August 2018
- Thinking of imposter syndrome as imposter phenomenon is more helpful to an individual because it has less clinical connotations and it takes the responsibility away from the individual. It also suggests that it is more an outlook than a disease.
- Imposter phenomenon has three components.
- Worry about failure
- Discounting your success
- Often unnecessary preparation for failure or avoiding risky behaviour. This is the mismatch of expecting failure even though you will likely succeed.
- Feeling like an imposter can come from internal feelings about self worth. But they are often externally imposed by a researchers environment. For example a negative work culture and societal cues impacts how you feel about you’re achievements. Imposter phenomenon is less about insecurity and more about how you respond to your environment.
- People who suffer from imposter phenomenon are more likely to attribute success as luck or undersell their successes, feel they fail more than colleagues and take longer to recover from set-backs.
On the notion of luck and how it impacts your perspective:
- Luck in the context of failure is self protective. I was lucky I did not get that job as I would not have been happy if I did get it.
- Luck in the context of success is self deprecating. I was lucky to get the job as there must not have been many good candidates for the job.
Be kind to yourself and avoid the self deprecating description of luck.
The theme for this meeting was: The perceptions of women in male dominated roles. We showed two short films and discussed related issues with Professor Claire Belcher, who leads a research group studying the role of fire in the Earth System. Claire was involved in The Bearded Lady Project, a documentary film and photographic project celebrating the work of female paleontologists and highlighting the challenges and obstacles they face. We showed a second short film about the experiences facing female firefighters Women in Fire.
- Senior academic positions are still male dominated. This can make women may feel, particularly when they feel their opinions may be more likely to be dismissed or ignored. Discussion of the ‘game face’, and that both men and women have to put this on sometimes to cope.
- Donning the beards (Bearded Lady project) may seem a drastic but after watching videos and discussing it further it does seems necessary to make a clear message that there are issues in the sciences surrounding gender balance.
- Do young researchers face same issues as senior women have? We hope that things are changing but it is hard to say. Often gender balance becomes more important when things go wrong (e.g. isolated in male dominated environment on fieldwork, sexual harassment).
- Biases are often implicit rather than explicit making them harder to deal with.
- The women firefighters expressed similar sentiments. A strong desire to be seen as positive role models in a male dominated environment. Separate training was one way that women achieved more – less worry about failing or making mistakes, don’t want to be seen to do in front of men in case reflects badly on men’s view of women. Acceptance of failure and persistence in face of rejection also noted as critical skill in academia. Women often feel they need to over-achieve compared to male colleagues to be taken seriously.
Friday 1st June 2018
The theme for our June discussion was work life balance. We were delighted to be joined by Jennifer Catto and Tim Jupp.The main points were the discussion were:
- Stop comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone who is willing, or even wants to, work longer hours than you. If you do find you are comparing yourself to them, ask yourself: Do I want to do what they are doing? Probably not.
- Do it your way. Instead of measuring yourself again others, measure yourself again your own expectations. But do be careful to make sure you’re not aiming for perfection or other unobtainable things.
- Work life balance is a conscious choice you make. Choose to work a 37 hour week. Chances are you will be more productive and enjoy your work more. You will likely be more resilient as well.
Here is a nice article on how to work a 37 hour week
Friday 4th May 2018
To move or not to move? We were joined by Prof. Nadine Unger and Prof. Mat Collins who helped us navigate this theme and share their experiences/perspectives. Here are the discussion points for the May meeting. The key points from the discussion were:
- The reason moving is important for your cv is to show that you’re an independent researcher. It is evidence to show you have worked with different research groups, with different people and topics.
- Moving is not the only way to show independence. If you don’t want to move, find other ways such as collaborations outside your university, go on research visits, etc.
- Do not move unless it is for the right reasons. Do you actually want to move? Is it the right project, at the right time and working with the right people? It does not need to be a perfect job but don’t move just for your cv.
Friday 6th April 2018
Thank you to everyone who attended the WiC Launch event. We had an excellent turn out given how quiet campus has been during the break. The theme for our launch meeting was: What challenges lie ahead? Here are the discussion point from the Launch