Early Career Researcher Forum to merge with Athena Swan ECR group

The IHW Early Career Research Forum (ECRF) is to merge with the Athena Swan ECR (AS ECR) group. The decision has been supported by the Athena SWAN self assessment team (SAT) and the Institute Management Group (IMG) after a period of consultation among ECRs in the different research groups across the Institute.

Photo of meeting room with coffee in foreground

The idea of a merger had been discussed for over a year, as it was increasingly recognised that the functions of the two groups overlapped and a merger could improve the experiences of IHW ECRs by reducing governance inefficiencies through an integrated approach.

The ECRF was set up in 2014 to represent and support ECRs across IHW. Notable activities have included:

  • training delivered to ECRs
  • representation on Institute Management Group (IMG)
  • liaising with AS ECR group and GU-wide Postdoctoral forum (with Elizabeth Adams)
  • feeding into the Research Concordat via the University’s Researcher Development team
  • lobbying to keep the Job seekers register opened to researchers.

The ECRF was nominated (and highly commended) for the University’s Research Culture Awards in 2019.

With a focus on progression and success of all ECRs within IHW, the AS ECR group has a broad remit and works collaboratively with other groups to support ECRs.

Over the last few years, the AS ECR group has evolved to operate from both top-down (via the IHW AS strategic remit) and bottom-up approaches in which ECRs identify, raise and work with the institute to address issues affecting ECRs such as representation, progression and success; often in consultation with the ECRF.

Most recently, the groups worked together with other AS groups to identify and develop supports for ECRs in light of challenges and changing priorities as brought by COVID-19.

In short, both groups felt that joining forces would allow us to represent the voices of all ECRs within IHW more effectively.

Going forward, the AS ECR group will continue to collaborate with other AS groups to support the needs of ECRs. Some areas of focus for 2021 and beyond include developing ECR specific grant writing groups; expanding awareness opportunities for ECRs in terms of mentoring and teaching; developing a COVID response support and guidance package to ensure current and future ECRs are not disproportionately disadvantaged. Additionally, we hope to expand ECRs' opportunities to communicate with one another.

If there is anything else you would like to see included or you would like to join, or just hear a bit more about what we do then please get in touch (contact information below).

Co-Chairs of the AS ECR group

Athena SWAN ECR member representing MVLS

Michele Hilton Boon MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit

First published: 21 September 2020