Female Applications for Professorship and Readership Conferment

Female Applications for Professorship and Readership Conferment

As the university strives for equality, diversity and inclusion, more women are particularly encouraged to apply for the available roles in Readership and Professorship, as they are underrepresented at these levels. Zoe Knowles, who is a Reader/Professor at LJMU, has shared her journey with us and why it’s important that more women apply for the role.

Zoe said: “When I got my Readership in 2013 and Professorship in 2017 you could apply for multiple routes. The consistent route has been that of Socio-Economic Engagement. I was also only the second applicant through the SEE route way to Professorship within LJMU and the first female.

“When I returned form maternity leave I wanted to return to something new and had the opportunity to work with a colleague Dr John Dickinson on public engagement project. This was funded by LJMU’s first Welcome Trust public engagement grant focused on showcasing the wonders of sport and exercise science to the public and set against the backdrop of London 2012.”

Zoe continued by highlighting how faculty support and colleagues helped her throughout her journey: “From then on I never looked back and developed a passion for socio-economic engagement. The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences supported me to develop into a new role, they were bold with projects I asked to run, took a chance on my ideas and help shape what is now a sector leading programme of engagement in the School.

“I also benefitted from having mentoring support within the faculty and colleagues who I work with daily, when I doubted myself, gave me that ‘nudge’ to apply. I needed that as I wasn’t confident and now hope through mentoring I can offer that support to others.”

Zoe also talked about the type of support she has received over the years from a variety of avenues: “The school has always been supportive of my part time working contract and colleagues I work with consider this in their timetabling of meetings, teaching and marking duties. It fits well with family life and I still have time to be a mum, wife, support wider family members and be an academic.

I’ve worked at LJMU for 21 years this academic year. Having flexible working arrangements so that I could collect from childcare was very important to my family and made sure we had time together in the evenings and extended time in the school holiday period.”

Speaking about her biggest challenge at the university, Zoe described finding it tough to acknowledge her successes: “For me it was about acknowledging what I had achieved – I struggled with that. You can’t do this alone and need ‘critical friends’ to help with that awareness and recognition. I remember the conversation about the literacy used in my application to denote where I had personally achieved something or been a leader – it was a moment when I realised what I had achieved.

It’s important that you have someone to critically question your role within projects, research, tasks and initiatives to make sure you attribute to yourself where credit is due. I also got support from past Professors I had worked with who had moved on from LJMU. Don’t limit yourself just to colleagues in LJMU – sometimes understanding of other Conferment schemes can really help as well.”

Do you have any pearls of wisdom that you could share with women considering applying for Readership/Professorship?

The application is about you and your work. By virtue of working in a collegial way we often forget to consider what we have personally achieved. What wouldn’t have happened without your input? What did you personally lead on? Take ownership in your writing.

Under the new scheme you may need to strategically omit aspects of your academic achievements that don’t support your single ‘strand’ focus. I found this difficult as I wanted the application to reflect the ‘academic citizen’ that I am. Before doing so can you see any links across to your strand? For example public engagement work in SES provides opportunities for students to be engaged in such work, consider science communication as a career etc.

Make sure you declare personal circumstances that may influence your application. Ensure you provide detail on this, such as being the primary carer for your child/children/relative due to partner working away, relatives living with you etc. I felt reassured in declaring this information after speaking to the Equality and Diversity team which was all in confidence. Applicants shouldn’t feel that this offers ‘excuses’ but by offering such detail allows the panels to consider your application in an informed way.

For further help, information and advice, please contact any of the following people:

• Professor Phil Vickerman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Strategic Initiatives and Enhancements - P.Vickerman@ljmu.ac.uk
• Julie Lloyd, Director, People and Organisational Development - J.Lloyd@ljmu.ac.uk
• Meriel Box, Head of Leadership and Development Foundation - M.Box@ljmu.ac.uk
• Moni Akinsanya, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager - M.M.Akinsanya@ljmu.ac.uk
• Ruth Lewis, Business Partner, People and Organisational Development, and Secretary to the Panel - R.Lewis@ljmu.ac.uk

Executive Dean, Director of School or Director of Professional/Service Area will also be able to offer advice.

LJMU prides itself on its family friendly policies and welcomes applications from full and part time staff and respects that all of our staff have lives away from academia which matter. 


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