Celebrating Nottingham's women
Professor Shearer West
It gives me great pleasure to be involved in events marking International Women’s Day 2018 on 8 March, for the first time in my new role as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham. This day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women past and present and to reflect on advances in equality, diversity and inclusion, while recognising the need to keep these values in the spotlight.
We are not there yet of course. I feel disappointed when I see my daughter is experiencing some of the same stereotyping at work that I did 30 years ago, and that news headlines are dominated by gender pay gaps and sexual harassment allegations. However, we have also come a long way in the last decades. In universities, the pursuit of Athena Swan awards, routine unconscious bias training for interview panels and a growing number of women in senior leadership roles attest to changes in the higher education sector – albeit more gradual than I would like.
Here at the University of Nottingham, we have introduced a number of initiatives to ensure that we have a culture that is equitable, inclusive and diverse. These include our staff networks, such as the Gender Equality Network; a review of recruitment processes from an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) perspective; our Anne McLaren Fellowships which are targeted at talented early career women; and a Diversity by Design project in Engineering. There is, however, much work still to do to ensure that we have embedded a culture that is gender blind when it comes to talent, contribution and workload.
But International Women’s Day is, above all, a day of celebration of women’s achievements, and to mark this day, we’re launching two initiatives at the University to raise the profile of our brilliant women. First, we are unveiling a display of photographic portraits of women who have contributed to the success of the University. These portraits are replacing more traditional male portraits, some of which have hung in the Council Room since the Trent Building was founded. Second, we are working with Nottingham Trent University to announce Nottingham’s Women Experts – a guide to the expertise of our female staff, with underpinning support for their interactions with the media. These activities are set against others taking place across our campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia.
I look forward to engaging with many of you on our new initiatives, and others, in the future and hope you enjoy International Women’s Day 2018.