How does one embrace equity? I think we should start by embracing and appreciating the amazing women who got us to the position we are now in. I'm sure we all have a few we would like to give a major embrace to and say thank you!
Equity is a century-old effort with each generation and person contributing their bit and passing on the torch to the next ones. I think with this opportunity it's worth remembering, acknowledging and embracing all the incredible women in our lives helping us all take a tiny step or huge leap forward towards equity.
For me, I want to pay tribute to the life-changing and personality-defining role all of my teachers have had on me. Parents give us life but teachers teach us how to live it best, leaving their fingerprints in our personalities, without any pre-existing need or obligation to care.
I can see these fingerprints clearly now, starting from my two illiterate grandmothers and my elementary school teacher mother, who all taught me the life-changing significance of education. My high school physics teachers building up my confidence to pursue my scientific talent. My inspiring university lecturers providing invaluable role models without even realising it. My research mentors opening up new worlds for me, supporting and opening doors to progress in a very mentally challenging, competitive and male-dominated career path. My ever-present career mentors still helping me navigate the more senior academic world, and in turn, creating real-life changes in achieving true equity in academia and society for the ones that will take over the torch from me.
I can't reduce the equally significant contribution of my ever-present male champions; I have been fortunate to have numerous of those across my whole life (school, university, my career) and fully appreciate that nothing would have been the same without them, kicking obstacles out of my way and pushing me forward when I wanted to back off. A major embrace to all of these remarkable people too!
I'm sure these examples resonate with some of you and that you can put your own examples in the described roles. We need to create even more of these people, push them forward into the spotlight, until we have achieved our goal of a truly inclusive and equal society across all areas, professions and countries.
Gender equity in higher education
The Athena Swan Charter and the Royal Academy of Engineering Programmes are great vehicles for highlighting such role models and enabling them to shine, with tangible actions and impact arising from both. We can only move forward together by embracing and acknowledging the effect our actions and personalities have in our communities, however big or small.
Dr Despina Moschou (MEng NTUAthens, PhD) is a Senior Lecturer and Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Fellow, within the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering at the University of Bath and a serial biotech entrepreneur. Her main research focus has been the development of disposable Lab-On-a-Chip microsystems for biomedical diagnostic testing and drug discovery applications.
Gender in Higher Education Conference 2023
Join us at the Gender in HE Conference 2023 to consider the challenges of all genders in higher education and forge a path to improve conditions for all. Find out more and book your place.