NTU Associate Professor Jane Pilcher is featured in the media

NTU Associate Professor Jane Pilcher is featured in the media

 July 21, 2023

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The impressive women of Nottingham Trent University (NTU) undertake important research, and as such their work is often featured in the media.

NTU School of Social Sciences Associate Professor Jane Pilcher wrote an article for Times Higher Education, highlighting how pronouncing names correctly isn't just an issue for graduation ceremonies. In the article, she highlighted the importance of having a whole university approach to respecting name-based identities of students and staff. 

Affecting feelings of inclusion and belonging

Writing alongside NTU Social Sciences Researcher, Hannah Deakin-Smith, Jane shared that: "There are close links between people’s identities and their names. So saying someone’s name incorrectly can misrepresent their identity, affecting their feelings of inclusion and belonging, and be experienced by them as a cultural and/or racialised micro-aggression."

NTU's Say My Name study explored the pronunciation of students’ names in higher education in England. It found that only a few respondents reported their institution had a policy or any guidance about the pronunciation of students’ names – and then only at graduation. Yet, in their interviews, students and staff said that name pronunciation, and names and identities more broadly, are everyday experiences and not just something that matters during a graduation ceremony.

"Some staff we interviewed told us that, because their workplace had no policy or guidance, they had devised their own strategies for handling students’ names they didn’t know how to pronounce," wrote Jane and her colleague Hannah. "But names and identities are too important a set of issues to be left to the ad hoc activities of a minority of well-intentioned people. Instead, institutions should have organisation-wide policy and guidance that centrally addresses issues of names and identities, including name pronunciation and variations in naming conventions."

Encouraging greater respect for name diversity 

A number of suggestions were provided to support policymakers in engineering greater respect for name diversity and improving the day-to-day, year-round experiences of staff and students.

  • Embed audio recordings of people saying their own names into student records software and in HR records software
  • Include names and identities in induction sessions for students
  • Policy on respecting names should directly address international students
  • Training for all university staff
  • Make it normal for everyone to declare how their name should be pronounced
  • Email address policies should allow for variations in naming conventions
  • Develop names and identities resource banks

Providing research leadership 

Associate Professor Pilcher's role sees her providing research leadership and engaging in research-related activity in furthering the School's research strategy. She is the founder and leader of the School of Social Sciences Gender Research Group, bringing together around 70 academics from across the social sciences. She also delivers research informed teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

“As a sociologist, I aim to educate and inspire people to reach their potential as informed and reflective human beings, able to transform both their own lives and the lives of people they encounter," shares Jane. "I love Peter Berger’s claim that the 'first wisdom of sociology is this: things are not what they seem.' "

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