We celebrated this year’s International Women’s Day with the second annual Women in Research Conference at partner venue The Royal Court. Undergraduate Applied Sport Psychology student Frederieke Turner was just one of nearly 200 delegates who attended the event day
The day began with an address from Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Scholarship, Research and Knowledge Transfer), Robin Leatherbarrow, who acknowledged the invaluable contributions of female researchers at LJMU over the years. We were then introduced to Dame Lorna Muirhead, the former president of the Royal College of Midwives and Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside and LJMU Honorray Fellow. Dame Lorna gave us an insight into her career progression, sharing charming stories, which conveyed the importance of gender equality and education, saying “Education, not money is the great liberator”.
Next, Professor Zoe Knowles introduced us to the Women’s Professors Network at LJMU. At present, there are 115 professors within the University, 20 of which are female - a trend that is largely replicated worldwide. It was exceptionally promising to hear, though, that nine of LJMU’s female professors have joined the professoriate since 2015, indicating that women are beginning to receive recognition for their research and its subsequent impact.
Over the course of the day, three research presentation sessions took place. In total, 15 speakers took to the stage for 5 minutes each to talk about their research or their experiences of being a woman in academia. Each talk was followed by a minute or two of questions. Research ranged from What makes us happy? by Dr Caroline Brett from the Psychology Department, to Organisational Justice by Dr Christine Unterhitzenberger from the Business School. Some of my favourites were The Liverpool Telescope by Helen Jermak from the Astrophysics Research Institute, The Gendered nature of policing in protests by Dr Helen Monk from Criminology, and from Human Geography, Dr Celine Germond-Duret’s presentation on The importance of studying the ocean.
Learning about new research areas was fascinating and opened my mind to the importance of research and its necessity to understanding the world around us in the broader context.
Before lunch we were fortunate to be addressed by Alison McGovern, who is Wirral South MP. Alison’s talk really instilled the importance of challenging the gender bias that exists within employment, politics, and the wider culture. She emphasised that transparency with regard to gender pay gaps is imperative and that we as individuals must challenge our own biases in order to overcome inequality and inspire change. In addition, Alison emphasised how important it was that men attended events such as LJMU’s Celebration of Women in Research to facilitate this change. It was brilliant to see male attendance at the conference, which was of course welcome! Alison’s words really resonated with my beliefs and, I am sure, with those of many in the hall.
We then had a break for lunch which provided us with an opportunity to network and to view the poster presentations - the diversity of research on display was fantastic
Posters were peer judged (‘the people choice’) and we each picked our favourite by placing a sticker on the respective poster. Our decisions were guided by judging criteria relating to logical structure, effective communication of research, and likely impact. The poster prize was awarded to Kate Slade, (who thoroughly deserved the prize) by Margaret Greenwood, Wirral West MP. Margaret praised the occasion and reiterated Alison’s previous points.
Julie Abayomi closed the conference with a few words of thanks to the distinguished guests, presenters, co-organisers and attendees - thanks that I would like to echo.
The conference was a pleasure to attend and truly celebrated women in research. I felt privileged to have experts impart their knowledge and insights to us and felt incredibly proud to be a part of LJMU.
It was encouraging to see the attendance of A-Level students and to have the opportunity to talk to so many like-minded and inspirational individuals.
The conference gave us all the opportunity to reflect on what women have achieved and continue to achieve despite adversity, which should be a motivation in itself for us to continue to excel in academia and in all facets of life.
I look forward to attending again next year!