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International Day of Women and Girls in Science - meet Verity, Research Associate and RADiANT Network Manager

11 Feb 22

11 February is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day run by the United Nations to highlight the importance of engaging women and girls in science.

Did you know, women are typically given smaller research grants than their male colleagues and, while they represent 33.3% of all researchers, only 12% of members of national science academies are women.

Verity, a Research Associate at HPFT and RADiANT Network Manager shares her experience with us as a woman in research. 

"I began my career in research completely by accident just over 12 years ago. After my psychology degree, I was completely set on a career as a forensic psychologist, and when I saw a research position advertised in forensic intellectual disability, it seemed close enough. I thought I would gain experience, before moving into something more clinical.

When I was offered an assistant psychologist position, I was already hooked on research and decided to begin studying for a PhD in forensic psychology instead. My role was very embedded in a service, so I still got to interact with patients regularly, completing questionnaires or interviews for projects. I was able to attend and present at conferences, deliver staff training, analyse data and write research papers. I get the opportunity to influence practice and policy, by studying issues affecting the field.

I am happy to say I haven’t experienced many challenges or hurdles as a woman in research. I wasn’t always taken seriously in the workplace at the beginning of my career, possibly due to the combination of my young age, gender, and strong Burnley accent. I have also noticed systemic issues, such as all male conference programmes and panels. However, I have been very blessed to have fantastic mentors, with inspirational colleagues who have supported me to navigate these issues. 

My top tips for getting into research are:

  1. Consider it – at no point throughout my studies, did any of my lecturers introduce the idea of a career in research, I would have never foreseen that I would be doing a PhD now.
  2. Don’t feel intimidated – research is often considered as something that other, cleverer people do, but that simply isn’t the case. Professors started off somewhere!
  3. Find a mentor – if you already have a research interest, perhaps you have completed a masters thesis and would like to continue developing this? Contact your dissertation supervisor and ask for advice on the next steps. They may suggest applying for funding or putting together a PhD proposal.
  4. Get involved – you can get involved in research at any level. Find out which of your colleagues are involved in research and ask to help, we love receiving those emails and are more than happy to support colleagues to become involved."
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