Athena SWAN case studies

Meet our staff and explore how the School’s culture and activities have positively impacted their careers.

We are committed to to addressing gender inequalities in science and to improving career progression for female academics. Here are just some examples of the career progression of staff working in the School.

Meet our staff

Dr Kristen Clements, Senior Translational Scientist & NCSEM Consortium Manager

I joined the School in January 2015 following a career in both industry and academia. My current role focuses on research and enterprise development – facilitating the translation of research in the School to inform the development of new and existing services and / or products to benefit patient health. I also have a project management role, supporting the development of partnerships and strengthening the ties between members of the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine.

From day one, I have been supported in the School through both personal and professional development. Professionally, I have been encouraged to complete the Institute for Leadership and Management Level 5 diploma being given opportunities within my role to develop projects for the work-based assignments. I was also funded to complete the international knowledge translation professional certificate (awarded by the University of Toronto) – this gave me insight and access to an invaluable international network of professionals at the early stage of my role.

Further leadership development has been through my nomination to the 2018 intake of the Aurora women only leadership programme. I had a particularly knowledgeable and understanding mentor from within the School who encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone in this programme. As a consequence, I learned a lot about myself and took away several development actions.

Personally, as a mum who works full-time, I have also appreciated the ability to take two allocations of parental leave to spend some of the summer break with my daughter. There is also the flexibility to work from home if needed and flex hours if you want to attend an assembly or other School activity (or one of the many classroom-based showcase events). From previous roles within my career I do not underestimate that benefit and the fact that I am trusted and have the freedom to attain a positive work-life balance.

Dr Lauren Sherar, Reader in Physical Activity and Public Health

I joined Loughborough University as a Lecturer in 2012. My mentor, supported by the School, encouraged me to successfully apply for promotions (Senior Lectureship 2014 and Readership 2018). I was supported by the School to attend a female leadership training programme (Aurora leadership programme 2019), which gave me additional skills and networks needed to progress into more senior leadership positions within higher education.

I have three children, who were 6, 5 and 3 when I joined in 2012. I have found the School to be very accommodating to a flexible working pattern which allowed me to continue to work full-time with young children. I have always been able to take my annual leave during School holidays and move around my lunch breaks to be able to attend important activities related to my Children’s School, such as assemblies etc. Personally, this was/is essential to striking a healthy work-life balance.

Since joining the School in 2012, I have been offered a number of opportunities to progress my career. This included leading the development of a new undergraduate degree in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. This was supported by a School fellowship and provided me with the evidence I required to apply and successfully be awarded a Senior Fellowship in Higher Education (2018).

I was invited to undertake a number of leadership roles at School level (e.g. Teaching Discipline Lead, member of the Human Resources Advisory Group, Director of Undergraduate Studies) and at University level (Deputy and Interim lead for the University Sport and Exercise Science research Beacon). These roles have progressed my leadership skills, allowed me to help shape the strategic direction of the School and University and, ultimately, is helping to progress me towards my next career stage.

Dr Silvia Costa, Lecturer in Physical Activity and Public Health

I joined Loughborough University as a lecturer in 2018, although I was first at Loughborough as a Masters and PhD student between 2008-2013. I felt very supported by the University as an international postgraduate student, both on a personal as well as an academic level, and that is somewhat reflected in my return to the University and School to establish my career as a lecturer.

Being able to start on a flexible working pattern and work only 4 days per week has been great for work-life balance, as it allows me to spend an extra day with my two young children and eases the pressures of childcare arrangements. The School has been very supportive with flexible working options, and my development as a young academic.

Timetabling takes into account individuals on part-time or different working patterns, and the stepped increase in teaching load during the three years of probation is a major help to enable me to establish an independent research programme, particularly after two periods of maternity leave during my last post-doc position. 

It has been extremely useful and reassuring to have been paired with a probation advisor who is a female professor with a young child, who can share not only her experience and knowledge in terms of teaching, research and career progression, but also on the options and support available to academics who are parents, and how to navigate the issues of work-life balance without impacting my career.

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