Events

Women in Academia Resolutions Retreat, online September 2020

There is never enough time to get around to stuff you really want to do! I used to be an academic myself and understand this feeling! 

The aim of this Resolutions Retreat is to support women in academia to reflect on work and work/life values and consider how to set realistic goals at a time when the space to focus is stretched or maybe feels non-existent.  

Numbers are strictly limited in order to enable plenty of interaction, with lots of reflection and discussion time – and space for coffee breaks! 

The Resolutions Retreat: 

– gives you a space to reflect on your values 

– takes a values-led approach to deciding priorities and setting realistic goals

– provides a framework for supporting you to stick to your resolutions and achieve your goals

Give yourself an afternoon to focus on YOU.  

Share the space with other women who understand the particularities (and peculiarities?!) of the academic world. 

This is for you if:

– You would appreciate a gentle, supportive environment that recognises the complexity of academic women’s working lives

– You want some time and space to recharge and to think about your direction, motivated by what is important to you

– You want to reflect on your values and realign your work with them 

– You want to connect with other women in similar situations

This is not for you if:

– You’ve got it all sorted! 

– You have identified your values and use them to guide your direction and the goals you set yourself 

– You have strategies that work and support you to achieve your goals

– You are happy with your progress on work that is important to you 

Register on the Eventbrite page

Please note that ticket sales end on 28th August 2020, 11.30pm. 

Check out the video below to hear Julie talking about the retreat (see if you can spot the cat!). If you have any queries about the event, or are wondering if it is right for you, please get in touch with Julie. You can email her via her website contact form or find her on LinkedIn or Twitter. 

Hear from Julie talking about the Resolutions Retreat – and see if you can spot the cat!

Feedback on the Women in Academia Resolutions Retreat:

 The space:

“Time for reflection and re-evaluation”

“A quiet, respectful space”

“There was openness and mutual respect”

The takeaways:

“It has consolidated ideas and next steps”

“Really enabled a clear thought direction”

“Enabled me to re-set goals and resolutions”

“It has helped me focus in terms of my direction, but also why I find certain things/issues important”

“It gave a framework for thinking/reflecting”

“It has made me see the mismatch between values and goals and made me think about how to create space for the values”

“It has really made me understand/see why I am struggling to ‘fit’ in both with the institution where I work and academia. I’ve realised this is because of the dissonance between my values and goals”

The shared experience:

“One of the best things was hearing other women discuss their experiences and goals”

“It helped me realise I am not alone in these difficulties”

The facilitator:

“It was run in a thoughtful and peaceful way”

“Julie is a skilled and enabling facilitator”

 The only suggestion for improvement was that people wanted more…..! 

Testimonial: 

“Julie fostered a very safe atmosphere of positivity during the ‘Resolutions Retreat’ I attended, and she really helped me to think about my goals, aspirations, and why this is my career. The conversations were lively but incredibly respectful – not always something I’m used to at work. It was really important to get together with like-minded women, of different ages, experience, and backgrounds, and really heartening to know we often share similar stories. I was especially interested in the match or mismatch with an ‘institutional message’, and how to navigate that in terms of my own ethics. The most important thing though, was that Julie helped us all explore different perspectives, and learn new things about ourselves.”

And do take a look at this blog for some thoughts behind putting on the first resolutions retreat in January 2020.  

Events

Women in Academia Resolutions Retreat, online June 2020

An impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is its challenge to our day-to-day working and living practices.

For many people, this has provoked a reflection on what is truly important, what our personal values are.

Building on a successful Resolutions Retreat for Women in Academia held in ‘real life’ earlier this year, I’m pleased to offer an online version of this retreat.

The aim is to support women in academia to reflect on work and work/life values and consider how to set realistic goals at a time when the space to focus is stretched or maybe feels non-existent.  

Numbers are strictly limited in order to enable plenty of interaction, with lots of reflection and discussion time – and space for coffee breaks!

The Resolutions Retreat: 

  • gives you a space to reflect on your values 
  • takes a values-led approach to deciding priorities and setting realistic goals
  • provides a framework for supporting you stick to your resolutions and achieve your goals

Give yourself an afternoon to focus on you. 

Share the space with other women who understand the particularities (and peculiarities?!) of the academic world. 

Sign up on the Eventbrite page here

If you have any queries about the event, or are wondering if it is right for you, please do get in touch with Julie. You can email her via her website contact form or find her on LinkedIn or Twitter

Feedback on the previous (in person) Resolutions Retreat:

 The space:

“Time for reflection and re-evaluation”

“A quiet, respectful space”

“There was openness and mutual respect”

The takeaways:

“It has consolidated ideas and next steps”

“Really enabled a clear thought direction”

“Enabled me to re-set goals and resolutions”

“It has helped me focus in terms of my direction, but also why I find certain things/issues important”

“It gave a framework for thinking/reflecting”

“It has made me see the mismatch between values and goals and made me think about how to create space for the values”

“It has really made me understand/see why I am struggling to ‘fit’ in both with the institution where I work and academia. I’ve realised this is because of the dissonance between my values and goals”

The shared experience:

“One of the best things was hearing other women discuss their experiences and goals”

“It helped me realise I am not alone in these difficulties”

The facilitator:

“It was run in a thoughtful and peaceful way”

“Julie is a skilled and enabling facilitator”

 The only suggestion for improvement was that people wanted more…..! 

Testimonial: 

“Julie fostered a very safe atmosphere of positivity during the ‘Resolutions Retreat’ I attended, and she really helped me to think about my goals, aspirations, and why this is my career. The conversations were lively but incredibly respectful – not always something I’m used to at work. It was really important to get together with like-minded women, of different ages, experience, and backgrounds, and really heartening to know we often share similar stories. I was especially interested in the match or mismatch with an ‘institutional message’, and how to navigate that in terms of my own ethics. The most important thing though, was that Julie helped us all explore different perspectives, and learn new things about ourselves.”

And do take a look at this blog for some thoughts behind putting on the first resolutions retreat in January 2020.  

Thoughts

Why a Resolutions Retreat for Women in Academia?

This week Times Higher Education published an interesting article covering The University of Glasgow’s welcome decision to make ‘collegiality’ an explicit requirement in its internal professorial promotions criteria. Examples given include recommending a colleague for an award, or crediting them as Co-Investigator on a major research project.

The image THE chose to accompany this positive news – an image of men helping other men over a wall – is somewhat ironic if you’re a woman in the academic world. For, one could be forgiven for reading statistics on the overrepresentation of men in senior academic and managerial positions as evidence of the fact that academia is already working efficiently in supporting men’s collegiality with one another.

I was motivated to offer my first Women in Academia Resolutions Retreat, coming up in January 2020, to support women to take some time out to focus on themselves. It’s important to continue to challenge the imperfect structures of academia, while at the same time to work on how we can support ourselves within those imperfect structures. Anecdotes, academic research and personal experience demonstrate that women can be notoriously bad at prioritising ourselves. Some men experience this, too, of course, and they are the ones doing the ‘housework’ of the department alongside the women.

Housework might take the form of being the (implicitly-) understood ‘go to’ person for students for support, being the person always assigned programme leadership, teaching introductory core modules or given administrative tasks etc. It’s a real skill – and indeed a compliment – being the ‘safe pair of hands’ who can hold that ticking grenade safely. But holding that grenade comes at a cost – you are likely holding it for someone else whilst they are getting on with the things they want to do.

While you’re holding the grenade for someone else, it’s very easy to lose sight of what you want to achieve. After all, if you lose focus, you will drop the grenade and it will, you feel, be catastrophic for everyone!

boom-2028563_1280.png

So, how exactly do you focus on you instead? It’s key to take some time out to reflect on where YOU want to go.

First – put down the grenade (psst – it’s not actually a grenade and it’ll be OK!!)

Now you’re more relaxed, consider what you would like to achieve and what steps you need to take logically in order to get there. It could be that you already know what you want to achieve – great!  But it could be that you need to sit back and think about what is important to you. What’s important to you aligns with your values. If you set goals in line with your values, you are going to be more motivated and likely to achieve those goals.

To use myself as an example, once I realised I was working to an agenda that was not my own in a previous situation, I had a proverbial light-bulb moment: “it’s not my goal- I’m not motivated by it”. Without realising it, I hadn’t been realistically working toward that goal; instead, I’d been procrastinating and finding distractions. It was because I was not only not bothered about achieving it but actually felt it would be pretty worthless, judged by my own value system. It was a tough lesson as I had spent many years not realising this! But I re-set things and took steps toward what I actually wanted to achieve.

We all have contexts in which we work and things we need to do that we might prefer not to (for me now I’m self-employed, that’s my accounts!). But there are ways to work within our realities.

My goal for the Resolutions Retreat is that participants leave with a clearer idea of their goals, how to achieve them and with the resolve to take action.

 

 

photo of a notebook with a small icon of cat's face with the word 'think' printed underneath
Events

Women in Academia: Resolutions Retreat

25 January,  2020, 10AM-1PM, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

  • Too much to do?
  • Hard to find time for the important tasks?
  • Not sure what your priorites are?

Give yourself some space to focus on YOU.

This interactive workshop will support you to:

  • Define what is important to you, professionally or personally.
  • Set realistic goals to aim for.
  • Leave with a personalised plan of how to stay on track and achieve your goals.

Be guided to reflect, to learn and to set your goals.

Share the space with other women who understand the particularites (and peculiarities?!) of the academic world.

Join us in the supportive retreat of the Figgis Suite at the Tyneside Cinema to set your direction for 2020.

Tea and coffee will be served on arrival to help us get started!

***EARLY BIRD OFFER: Book by midnight on 8th December to qualify for a 30 min phone/skype call with Julie in February/March/April to provide personalised support in progressing with your plan!***

BOOK VIA EVENTBRITE: https://wiarr.eventbrite.com

Information about the Tyneside Cinema, including information for people with acccess requirements, can be viewed on their website.

If you have any queries about the event, or are wondering if it is right for you, please do get in touch. You can email me via my website contact form or find me on LinkedIn or Twitter

And do check out this blog on my rationale behind this event!

coffee-2589755_1920

large lily pads on water giving impression of stepping stones
Thoughts

Career change beyond the Academy

I was pleased to contribute a blog post on my career change story for my former university, University of Sheffield. They run a fantastic blog series on careers beyond the academy for post PhD students. It can be hard to know how to transfer your skills and what use value a PhD has in the wider world. The v i s t a blog helps people see what’s possible through live examples! Check out my contribution here.

Read more about my thoughts on leaving academia and feeling ‘free’ here.

Events

Righting Wrongs for Women in Academia

In September 2018, I was pleased to offer a workshop at the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association  Annual conference. The theme of the conference was ‘Writing Wrongs’ and I offered a session riffing on this theme entitled ‘Righting Wrongs for Women in Academia’. The workshop was a space to share strategies, experiences and thoughts on how to shift academic organisational culture, where 1 in 4 professors are women and where BME women are particularly underrepresented.

flock of birds flying from a disused pier over water in low sunlight
Thoughts

Free

Free

This was my diary entry for my first day as a non-academic. It was in my diary from the moment I heard my request for voluntary redundancy from my employer of twelve years had been accepted.

The simple graphic makes me smile. I love the way the arrows indicate I will be ‘free’ for the rest of my life (!) precisely from 1st June 2017, that I have literally drawn a line to mark the end/beginning and that the freedom glows from the page!

The word ‘free’ had come to take on significant resonance for me following an earlier  coaching conversation. I was receiving coaching as part of thinking through a career change, and without much of an idea what I wanted to do. The coach asked me this incisive question: ‘What would it feel like if you weren’t working as an academic?’ After a short reflection, my response was: ‘I would be free’.

My use of that word for the first time hit me powerfully, the implication being that at that moment I felt the opposite – trapped? – held back? – in chains?!! It all sounds rather dramatic!

Yet, the realisation I was ‘doing the wrong thing’ career-wise had hit me like a bolt one random evening a few months previously. It literally formed as a sentence that I said out loud to myself: ‘I am doing the wrong thing’. The suddenness of it came as a surprise and was somewhat overwhelming, yet the steady erosion of my sense of satisfaction with my choice of career had been working away for many years.

Thinking through a career change can be a huge, daunting task. Then at the age of 46, I felt I was young enough to make a shift but old enough to get cracking on with it! If I had wobbles about leaving academia, and of course I did, I would say to myself – ‘Julie, another 20 years’. The thought of another 20 years doing the same job felt unbearable; I knew that whatever I ended up doing, it would be better for my mental, physical and emotional health than staying put.

Careers are bound up intimately with our identities and status. On social occasions, when people meet for the first time, one of the initial questions is ‘What do you do?’ I had a relatively high status job which was reasonably secure and with a good salary. I also had some absolutely brilliant colleagues with whom I loved working. Academia had offered me so many privileges and opportunities, to research and to teach what I enjoyed.

However, I decided to leave, a move which was either bold or bonkers, or quite possibly both! The strength of needing to do something more in line with my values was what propelled me. I was keen to work where I could have more of a direct impact on social justice. I also needed to be ‘freer’ than the restrictions of working in a huge organisation such as a university permitted. I realised I could pursue my interests beyond the confines of academia more than within it.

So, I took small steps to open myself up to new experiences and to looking at things differently. I became (and still am) a trustee and volunteer with two amazing charities that support and develop women and girls:West End Women and Girls Centre, Newcastle, and Team Kenya CIO. I knew that I would need support thinking through the process of a career change so I had some coaching and also signed up for an online course in changing careers. I took a coaching qualification to broaden my skills. It was hard fitting all this in while still in a busy full-time job; however, I made time because it was so important to me. It was the difference between freedom and constraint after all!

IMG_1643

Now that I am starting up as self-employed, I feel excited and scared at the same time. But mostly I feel thrilled that I can create my own job and do what I really want to do – make a difference, I hope, with regard to gender and LGBT equality and help people realise their own potential through coaching.

In a ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ moment, the final seminar I taught at university was on Samuel Beckett’s Endgame (on a core literature module not designed purposefully by me!). The play is an experimental drama, part of a movement known as Theatre of the Absurd. As the name suggests, Endgame offers a reflection on endings.  It is a dark comedy dealing with, amongst other things, themes of entrapment and circularity. Its opening words are spoken by the character Clov:

‘Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished. [Pause]. Grain upon grain, one by one, and one day, suddenly, there’s a heap, a little heap, the impossible heap. [Pause]. I can’t be punished any more.’

While students in the group wondered if finishing the module on this text was a ‘lecturer’s joke’, I had to wonder what kind of joke it was on me! To finish a career teaching in various English Literature Departments on such a literalised symbolic moment was ‘absurd’ in itself.

What I know now, writing this piece several months after leaving, is that I have grown enormously. I still have my academic colleagues and friends and we are finding ways of working together while I have the added bonus of meeting and working with colleagues in new fields. I am so enjoying the learning and challenge of setting myself up as self-employed. I have done things over the last couple of years I would not have thought possible and I am absolutely looking forward to doing more that I don’t even know about yet!

And yes, I feel free!

 

Check out an update I wrote one year on in January 2019 on life beyond academia for Sheffield University’s v i s t a blog series here.

If the path before you is clear, you're probably on someone else's. 
Carl Jung