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Aurora case study: Dr Michelle Millar

03 Aug 2018 | National University of Ireland, Galway

Prior to starting Aurora I had just been appointed chair of the teaching and learning committee in my school. While I had done some leadership before, this was the first time I had to work with colleagues rather than students. I didn’t feel I had the leadership skills or the training needed for this new role.

One of the big things I gained from Aurora was confidence in my own capability in leading people. I learnt about motiving people and how to bring about change.

I wasn’t focusing on promotion before. It was at the back of my mind but Aurora really helped me to consider it. I was ticking the boxes in teaching and administration, but I needed more output in terms of research. Aurora helped me realise that I could lead my PhD students and deliver research that my university wanted.

I also learnt that women won’t put themselves forward for promotion if we don’t feel we’re ticking all the boxes. Aurora taught me that it’s ok to fail, it’s ok to go for it and it might not work out, but that’s ok.

I also want to mention the Action Learning Set on the third day. On the second day you’re given a table number and the following day you arrange to meet and bring a challenge to work through together. I was dreading it, but it was magnificent. We got on so well, we are still in touch today. We set up an accountability structure to check that we’d all done what we said we were going to.

Since then, I have actively encouraged any female I meet in my institution to get involved. Aurora created a safe place to think about how to do things and for personal reflection; to press pause and think about where I’m going. It was so supportive.

To support gender and equality, my university has put a task force in place with a vice-president for equality, who is in charge of implementing the new strategy and policies. They are now proposing a mentoring system. It’s a very ambitious programme with the aim that the institution will lead the way in the sector, starting with ensuring that 50% of people promoted are women.

Right now it’s an exciting place to be a women. It will take time, but I’m excited to see what happens.

For myself, I now intend to move up through the institution in academic roles. I wouldn’t place a limit on myself to how far I could go.

Aurora created a safe place to think about how to do things and for personal reflection; to press pause and think about where I’m going. It was so supportive."

Dr Michelle Millar
Senior Lecturer (Political Science and Sociology)
National University of Ireland, Galway

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