As was the case in many UK universities, last Tuesday 8th March – International Women’s Day – was a busy day for Edinburgh Napier University’s Athena SWAN teams. The coordinators of our gender equality network (GEN) – Dr Clare Taylor (Senior Lecturer in the School of Life, Sport and Social Sciences) and Frances Ryan (PhD student, School of Computing) – organised ‘equality breakfasts’ on each of the three main University campuses. These were co-hosted by the Athena SWAN leads for our six schools and Equate Scotland, the Edinburgh Napier based organisation that supports the recruitment, retention, development, and progression of women in science, engineering, technology and the built environment in Scotland.
The purpose of the breakfasts was to engage our colleagues and students in conversations about equality at work. We encouraged them make a pledge for parity to do their part in promoting gender equality on campus, and making Edinburgh Napier University an equal workplace for everyone. We also invited our colleagues to take the opportunity to find out more about Athena SWAN on their campuses, and the work that is underway within the Schools to build on the University’s success in winning an Athena SWAN bronze award last year as we prepare to submit for departmental awards later in 2016.
In the foyer of our Merchiston campus I very much enjoyed working with members of the Athena SWAN teams from the Schools of Computing, Arts and Creative Industries, and Engineering and the Built Environment including School Academic Champions Dr Laura Muir, Dr Kirsten MacLeod, and Alastair Stupart. I even took my turn at serving breakfast (although I doubt that anyone would employ me in such a role full-time). We gathered pledges from a wide range of people: from a visiting party of school children on campus to find out about our photography degree courses to members of the University’s senior management team. We even managed to collect some out on the street during a practice fire drill!
I was also with Clare and Frances on the eve of International Women’s Day on Monday 7th March at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. The three of us were lucky to get tickets to squeeze into a packed house for the launch of a new project hosted by the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities: the Dangerous Women Project. The evening started with highly engaging contributions from a panel that comprised political sociologist Akwugo Emejulu, writer Lucy Ribchester, chemist Professor Lesley Yellowlees, and Director of IASH Professor Jo Shaw, all expertly chaired by comedian Susan Morrison. After they set the scene with a series of position statements the audience was offered the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. Then Dr Peta Freestone took the stage to thank everyone who has contributed to the project so far, and to deliver a sneak preview of the first post to the Dangerous Women blog the day before it was due to go live. Afterwards we headed upstairs for a celebratory drink and canapés, where we discussed fledgling plans for International Women’s Day 2017.
Meanwhile the ‘outside world’ also made quite a fuss of International Women’s Day. I was particularly tickled by the Scotsman, renamed the Scotswoman for its issue of 8th March – although I would suggest a permanent change to the (gender neutral) Scot. I was sorry to miss the change of livery on the Scotsman Hotel, which I pass on my way to work each morning. I blame my early start. I was up at the crack of dawn to get to reach campus on time to serve those breakfasts, long before the sign went up. Luckily Jo Shaw managed to take a shot and gave permission for it to be shared here.