Co-Chairs of the group Adèle MacKinlay and Sara Lombardo welcomed attendees to the session and provided an introduction to Maia and its mission to advocate for positive change as well as its strategy for the next 12 months.
Furthermore, they introduced the Maia committee and shared the story of the Network so far, which has successfully run more than 15 events since its inception in May 2020 and gained almost 350 members from all areas across the University.
Additionally, attendees were informed of the commitment Maia has made to be a supportive ally to marginalised groups.*
The Maia Network also shared their upcoming plans, which include:
- A staff mentoring scheme which has matched 45 pairs and will be providing comprehensive training for both mentors and mentees over the coming months
- Enhancing promotion and progression routes for academic and Professional Services staff
- Launching a new initiative in 2021 around Loughborough’s Change-Makers
- Running male allyship training for Academic and Professional Services Leadership teams
- Ensuring that University Fellowships can be used to support those whose academic activity has been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The second part of the event was led by Council member and HROD Service Manager Pauline Matturi, who introduced the four Council lay member panellists: Jane Tabor, Ann Greenwood, Sally-Ann Hibberd, and Jennifer Maxwell-Harris, as well as the incoming Chair of Council, Christine Hodgson.
Pauline asked the panellists about their experiences advocating for change and equality within the organisations they have worked for, their proudest moment by doing so and the tools and resources they have used to achieve this; their advice for those taking part in the Maia mentoring scheme and how mentoring has benefitted them; as well as their guidance for women who want to progress to more senior positions.
When asked about what she would like to see prioritised in the new University strategy, Jane Tabor commented: “The change I would really, truly, like to see is inclusivity so that all people who come to Loughborough are welcomed, included and able to participate.
“We need to continue to try and give all students, whatever their background, the confidence and the tools they need to achieve their best, and to give them an environment to thrive.”
Christine Hodgson added: “I’m really pleased to see the creation of this vibrant Network which I’m sure will help the University to improve diversity in all its guises.”
Other discussions were held about imposter syndrome and personal branding, and even the panellists’ latest Netflix recommendations.
*Maia was established as a network for all women at Loughborough, including trans women and non-binary people comfortable in a female-centred community. In the UK, networks for women have a tendency to be dominated by white, middle-class women who hold Eurocentric values. Gender equality is also often given greater airtime and attention than race equality and issues affecting racially marginalised groups. Knowing these two things from the outset, we are committed to not allowing Maia to perpetuate this pattern. As a network, we are clear in our position: we will be effective allies in the work of race equality and anti-racism; we will pass the mic and give space to other networks and colleagues; and we will take an intersectional approach in all that we do.