Athena SWAN in IHW
Case studies of staff who work flexibly
Many IHW staff now work flexibly to accommodate caring responsibilities, help them to manage a disability or health condition, or to improve their work/life balance. Here, a range of colleagues share their reasons for seeking alternative working patterns, and the ways in which they have gained.
Emma McIntosh is Professor of Health Economics and leads the Economics of Population Health programme within the Health Economics and Health Technology Assessment (HEHTA) team. Emma has an MSc in Health Economics and a PhD in Economics. Prior to joining HEHTA Emma worked as a Senior Researcher at the University of Oxford's Health Economics Research Centre (HERC).
"I have been an academic health economist for 20 years progressing from a research assistant to research fellow, senior researcher, Reader and now Professor through my posts at the universities of Kent, Aberdeen, Oxford and now Glasgow. During this time, I have benefited from University maternity leave entitlements and flexible working. I have previously worked 60% and 80% FTE to assist in my family/work life balance. Having an understanding and supportive environment is imperative to the progression of women in academia. I am currently one of 5 female programme leaders in HEHTA, from 7 programmes. Flexible working at HEHTA allows me to collect my children from school some days which is invaluable for the management of my children’s daily needs including homework, afterschool music and sport activities."
Ruth Dundas is Senior Investigator Scientist at MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit.
"I started working at MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences (SPHSU) as an Investigator Scientist in 2003. During my time, I have benefited from maternity leave and flexible working policies. Flexible working arrangements allowed me to care for my young children and progress my career in research. SPHSU have supported me in my training and development and while working 60% FTE, I was promoted to Senior Investigator Scientist. I have subsequently returned to full-time working."
Professor Laurence Moore, Director of SPHSU said “It is imperative talented female staff are able to progress in academia. I am pleased we have been able to support Ruth through her periods of flexible working.”
Rich Mitchell is Professor of Health and Environment and head of the Public Health Group at the Institute for Health and Wellbeing. He is also a co-director of the Centre for Research on Environment, Society and Health (http://cresh.org.uk). Earlier in his career Rich focused on monitoring and exploring socio-economic and geographic inequalities in health. Today, his focus is on the potential for environments, and natural environments in particular to positively influence population health and health inequalities.
"I joined Glasgow as a Reader in 2007, and was given lots of help to gain my professorial promotion in 2009. Our first child also arrived in 2009 and I was supported by my department to take four weeks leave at the time. When our second child arrived in 2012, I wanted more time at home to be hands-on with him so I formally reduced my hours of work to 80% FTE and agreed flexible working practices. These arrangements enable me to have good work/life balance, do school and nursery pickups and generally stay sane. My line manager was strongly supportive of the move to 80% FTE, and both she and my wider institute colleagues have been fantastic at enabling it to work in practice."
Jo Ferrie is a Lecturer in Social Research Methods in the School of Social and Political Science. Jo joined the University in 2001 as a Research Assistant, completed her PhD in Disability Studies and Sociology in 2008 and became a Lecturer in 2012. Jo is currently Director of Glasgow Q-Step, a quantitative literacy programme for social scientists funded by Nuffield, ESRC and HEFCE; has been the interim Director of Graduate Training for the College of Social Sciences; is Associate Director for the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences and is the first social scientists to be appointed as PI to the Euan MacDonald Centre, one of the largest and most influential hub of scientists working in the field of neurological conditions.
"I had my first child during my PhD (in 2005) and was given very limited maternity leave (4 months) and thereafter felt significant pressure to compete as if I didn’t have children. Although I was willing to move institution to find work, as a single parent, I was limited in where I could afford to live, or where I had networks of support and feel very fortunate that Glasgow has remained my home, though for this to be the case I was on many very short term contracts (in one 12-month period I had 4 letters from Human Resources saying my contract was ending). Staying at Glasgow has been due to bringing in research money to fund my own posts.
Since becoming a Lecturer in 2012 I have been well supported. I was appointed to a two-year post that became open ended after the first year. Having brought in significant funding, I have been fast track promoted and been given a recognition and reward award. Flexible working has certainly helped me juggle child-centred commitments and the Childcare Voucher Scheme has given me financial support (a tax waiver) to pay for part of nursery and then afterschool provision. I am now anticipating another period of maternity leave, this one funded and much more generous. I have had meetings with Human Resources to gain additional information and am very excited at having the opportunity to apply for an Academic Returners and Research Support grant to invest in my research. The Keeping in Touch days are another advantage that will allow me to continue with a number of projects throughout my leave without impacting negatively on the leave itself. I also see Shared Parental Leave as an enormous step forward in valuing the role both parents play in raising children."
Antonia Gates joined IHW in 2006, and is currently a research secretary in Mental Health and Wellbeing.
"I have worked in the same research group since 2006, initially 17.5 hours/week as a grade 4 research co-ordinator. I was also appointed grade 5, 1 day/week costing grants/managing budgets, 2010. With this additional experience, I successfully applied for a 21 hours/week grade 5 Research Secretary post, 2011. I work with 2 academics costing and managing research grants and monitoring budgets. I was delighted to get an R&R award in 2013. My line-manager put me forward for an SVQ 3 Business and Administration Course which I completed in 2 years whilst working, with the flexibility of doing some coursework from home.
In late 2014 I felt very tired which I put down to being a working mum, having 2 teenagers, a 6 year-old, a husband working nights, and a daily commute on 2 trains each way. However, my leg started to drag when walking, I had back pain, and fatigue, so was referred to hospital. My line-manager and academic colleagues agreed to my working from home when needed. My back MRI showed a bulging disc, and I had 4 weeks sick-leave. For comfort, the institute bought a standing-up desk for my return (initially on reduced hours). In October 2015 more scans confirmed I had multiple sclerosis. I was already booked onto a Prince2 Project Management 3-day course in October which remarkably I attended and passed. In December 2015 I was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, which has no treatment. I was devastated and took a week off to get my head around it. My line-manager and academic colleagues were extremely sympathetic. I returned to work to take my mind off the diagnosis, and received masses of support from colleagues.
My line-manager arranged for me to work from home more permanently, installing a desk, computer and filing cabinet at home, for when I don’t feel able to go into work. I enjoy the atmosphere and support of actually being in the office when I can manage it, but this has now become less frequent due to my condition. Ideally I try to get in to the office one day per week for a few hours to catch up with my colleagues, and the Department of Work and Pensions provides me with a grant to get a taxi into work.
I am very grateful I have had so much support and flexibility from the Institute to keep working. Working is important to me, it has mentally really helped me to cope with having such an unpredictable and debilitating condition. The University of Glasgow has been extremely flexible, supportive and understanding as my condition has gradually deteriorated over the last year or so. I have plateaued at the moment but this is probably because my work colleagues have helped me to manage my condition better and therefore to continue working, which I enjoy."
Tracy Ibbotson has been a Research Coordinator in the West Node of the NRS Primary Care Network since 2011 and leads Patient & Public Involvement (PPI) work in the Network and MVLS.
"I had always enjoyed the academic environment and found the work as a researcher and a senior lecturer an integral part of my life for 25 years. When I had my first child in 2001, I struggled to find space and time to combine work with family life. This situation became more difficult after my second child in 2004, despite having had a year mat leave. Then I took up a post as a self–employed, part-time researcher and was lucky to work with a sympathetic professor who offered a desk space in the then Department of General Practice and Primary Care at University of Glasgow.
Although the work was flexible and interesting, I felt an increasing sense of frustration with my academic role. Under the guidance and support of Professor Mair, I applied for the part-time administrative role of Research Coordinator in the NRS Primary Care Network. I am an enthusiastic supporter of including diverse views into academic research so the patient involvement aspect of the role was of particular interest. More recently, I welcomed the opportunity to return to full-time work and expand my PPI role to co-lead a project developing PPI in MVLS.
The support of senior staff has played a key role in enabling my transition to an innovative, full-time and family-friendly role in the university."