The University of Sheffield celebrates the stories of its women

The University of Sheffield celebrates the stories of its women

 March 19, 2019

University of Sheffield women are helping to create a more gender-balanced world. Below, they share their stories in celebration of International Women’s Day and the campaign theme #BalanceForBetter.

Creating a truly gender-balanced culture

Dr. Katherine Linehan is the Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Faculty of Science at the University of Sheffield.

For Katherine, gender equality means reaching the point where people don't count the number of women in a room.

"For a number of years, I have been involved in championing gender equality in my department through a wide range of projects and initiatives including outreach in schools, positive role modelling for students and the mentoring of colleagues," says Katherine.

"Having been appointed as the Faculty Director for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for Science I now have the opportunity to promote gender equality across the whole faculty. This work involves generating policies that ensure all staff are treated equitably but also means addressing the microaggressions used towards women so that a culture that is truly gender balanced is achieved."

"As Chair of the University Gender Equality Committee, my ambition is to achieve gender balance across all staff and student groups who work or study at the University," she adds.

Challenging preconceptions of Muslim women

University of Sheffield Gender Equality

Dr. Siobhan Lambert-Hurley is a Reader in International History & Departmental Director of Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield.

She believes that gender equality is highlighting the histories of Muslim women so that they can tackle preconceptions in the present and open potential for the future.

"To evoke the Muslim woman in the contemporary political climate is to conjure images of black veils and shrouded faces. The hijab becomes a symbol of clipped horizons and curtailed movement," says Siobhan.

"And yet many Muslim women throughout history have countered these omnipresent images in a multitude of ways."

"My contribution to progressing gender equality is to tell these women’s histories including to analyse travel narratives by Muslim women from Indonesia to Morocco who crisscrossed the globe from the 16th century to the jet age," she adds.

The future is bright for women in tech

University of Sheffield Women in Tech

Bella Abrams is the Director of Information Technology at the University of Sheffield.

Bella cites figures from recruiters Harvey Nash, where women make up 12% of senior IT directors or chief information officers .

Bella decided to use her unique position to support other women of different backgrounds and ages in choosing careers in IT.

"I have developed boot camp style apprenticeship programmes with Sheffield College that encourage women to develop IT skills at any stage of their career," explains Bella.

"I also mentor sixth form students from Longley Park College in Sheffield to think about working in IT and I am a founder member of Sheffield Women in IT, encouraging women at all stages of their careers to progress and have confidence in themselves."

Striving for reproductive health for everyone

University of Sheffield reproductive health

Dr. Julie Balen is a Lecturer in Public Health in the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield.

For Julie, part of gender parity means reproductive health for everyone, whereby women and men around the world are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life, with the ability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.

"Unfortunately this is not the case for far too many, and women are usually left carrying the burden," says Julie.

"In our research, my colleagues and I develop contextually-relevant knowledge and action on neglected reproductive health issues such as menstrual hygiene, adolescent parenting, premature birth, and infertility (among other issues). We focus on vulnerable women, men, families and communities in resource-limited settings across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. We try to understand socio-cultural, and health policy and systems factors related to poor reproductive health outcomes," she adds.

"Working closely with our international partners, we research these issues from a local level, through to national policies and programmes, and international treaties and discourses, with the ultimate goal of improving access to healthcare services, and reducing health and gender inequalities in the communities within which we work. To me this work is a privilege, a hugely rewarding experience and also a very small personal contribution towards re-balancing the world."

Gender-based violence and inequalities

University of Sheffield violence inequalities

Dr. Parveen Ali is a Senior Lecturer & Programme Lead for MMedSci Advanced Nursing Studies at the University of Sheffield.

Parveen's work is focused on moving towards a gender-balanced world by researching gender-based violence and inequalities in health in regards to gender and ethnicity with an emphasis on gender and the issues that women face generally. She also takes into consideration the particular issues women from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds face.

"My work involves working with victims of gender-based violence and domestic abuse and how health and social care professionals can support those experiencing abuse in their relationships. As a nurse, I also work to develop the capacity of nurses to become better clinicians, practitioners and researchers. I think it is very important; as a majority female profession, nursing does not always get the recognition it deserves," explains Parveen.

"In my family life, I ensure that my children learn the importance of gender equality and can achieve their full potential regardless of gender."

Challenging stereotypes in engineering

University of Sheffield engineering stereotypes

Dr. Rachael Rothman is an Associate Director at the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield.

Rachael was the Director for Women in Engineering for three years where she focused on how to increase the proportion of female students studying in engineering and the proportion of female staff working in engineering - currently only 11% of engineers in the UK are female.

"Removing barriers and busting stereotypes to encourage primary and secondary school children into engineering by showcasing the exciting work engineers do and by being a role model to those aspiring to be an engineer is a key part of this," explains Rachael.

"In my role as Associate Director for the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures I engage with the public, students, academics and industry. Enthusiastically discussing how engineering and my areas of research can contribute to solving some of the World's biggest problems, for example climate change and plastic waste, demonstrates that there doesn't need to be gender barriers in engineering."

Establishing a gender identity policy

University of Sheffield gender identity

Jules Holroyd is a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow for Department of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield.

Jules has been involved in progressing gender equality by working to establish a gender identity policy for her department.

"The policy commits us to putting in place certain mechanisms to support trans students and reminds us of obligations - we have to respect privacy, to ensure dignity at work, and to provide an inclusive environment for our students. It spells out some of the specific ways in which these obligations are relevant to our interactions with trans students," explains Jules.

"The policy also provides training resources to help people understand better the diverse range of trans people's experiences, the harms of transphobia, why pronouns matter and how to provide more inclusive learning environments."

"The aim is that this policy is rolled out through the various departments in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and hopefully beyond," she adds.

What gender equality means for women at the University of Sheffield

Lucy Brooke, Deputy Security Operations Manager, Security Services

"In Security Services we were significantly underrepresented by females and had justified cause for a genuine operational requirement to bring more females into the service. We created a campaign to attract female applicants by changing the name of the role, the format, imagery, and wording of our job descriptions and adverts, and completely rethought our advertising process. We found ourselves with a much broader applicant pool, with applicants best fitting the job description, which enabled us to employ high quality staff."

Deborah Beck, Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures 

"I am very keen that gender equality infuses all aspects of our work at the Grantham Centre, from who we select as speakers for our public events, promotion of the ground breaking research that our female PhD students and academics produce, supporting the development of members of the team and also the staff we recruit. Working to attract a wider pool of applicants, we've recently recruited Dr Rachael Rothman to be our new Associate Director."

Anna Kenyon, Research Associate, Urban Studies and Planning 

"For me, gender equality means positive attitudes to part time flexible working patterns. My hope for the future is that no child is ever told 'that's a job for boys' or 'that's a job for girls'."

Sylvia Chen, Co-Chair, International Women’s Club at the University of Sheffield

"The International Women's Club provides a support network for women from all over the world who have recently arrived in Sheffield. We tailor talks and events so that our members can get the most out of all opportunities available to them in Sheffield and can learn from other women from vastly different cultural, career and family backgrounds. Many of our members have benefited in terms of career, study, family and social life as a result of membership." 

Professor Lenny Koh, Director of Centre for Energy, Environment and Sustainability

“I am a strong supporter of inclusiveness, sustainable development and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Seeing more talented women, especially those from under-represented categories, working on STEM and sustainable development would be a great achievement in addressing societal imbalances.” 

Dr. Gwen Reilly, Reader at the INSIGNEO Institute for in silico Medicine and Faculty of Engineering Director for Equality Diversity and Inclusion 

"I support our amazing women in the engineering student society which celebrates the excitement of an engineering career and enables people to access it that may not have thought of it otherwise. I work everyday to ensure that our University is free of all discrimination and equips all its students with the skills and opportunities needed to built a life they want."

Mayeda Tayyab, Students’ Union Women’s Officer

"I became involved with the Women's Committee during my time at the University and was later elected Chair of the Women's Committee before winning the election for SU Women's Officer and started the role in June 2018." 

Join inspirational women at the University of Sheffield

With a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion and gender equality, there are plenty of opportunities for strong candidates in a host of academic and support roles. Search and apply for exciting and challenging jobs with the University of Sheffield today.  


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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