A Women’s Academic Network at BU

This September marks the launch of a Women’s Academic Network here at BU. The launch event will be hosted by Professor John Vinney  and Sue Sutherland, OBE and is open to all BU academic staff.

 Why do we need a women’s academic network?

 Bespoke networks for women are common across business and within the media, both in the UK and across Europe and the USA.  Within the profession, there are networks for women in science and philosophy (for example). These bespoke networks exist in recognition that professional women regularly face gender related challenges in the workplace. Thus women’s networks also function to support women  and  to raise their profile within organisations and beyond, as well as to lobby on gender inequality issues. Despite decades of lobbying and the notable achievements gained by women in the workplace, women in academia have not managed to make significant gains across the sector.  This extraordinary situation has recently been highlighted in Nature and most recently, in the Times Higher Education through a series of features highlighting the seriousness of multiple career obstacles impacting on female academic staff in particular.

  How did we create WAN?

The network we are developing here is informed by work I undertook at UEA, as co-Chair of a Research Network for Women. I began by approaching a number of women across the University, and our initial meeting began with a discussion as to how we would envisage such a network and what its purpose would be We then ran a University wide survey, again to establish demand for such a group. We relied on the survey being passed forward and while we recognise that not everyone may have been able to participate, there was sufficient response from colleagues to identify a demand and need for such a forum to be established (see here for results). 

 What are our aims?

The aims of WAN are to support women and women’s interests, in all their diversity, across BU. 
As a distinct and separate entity we will also work alongside and support, Athena Swan, DDE and the Equalities Office.

 How will we do this?

Through a programme of events we will be seeking to:
Raise the profile of women across the University
Create a regular networking forum
Identify important career issues for women academics with a view to further consultation


What does WAN look like?

Our current committee (based on attendance at the last committee meeting) is as follows:

Co-Convenors (elected for one year in the first instance)

Amber Burton
Sara Crabtree
Heather Savigny

Committee Members

Carrie Hodges
Vanora Hundley
Julie Robson
Elizabeth Rosser
Chris Shiel
Gail Thomas
Shelley Thompson
Kate Welham
Amanda Wilding
Huiping Xian
Tiantian Zhang


How can you get involved?

Come to the launch event and learn more about WAN and how you can contribute to the network.


When is the launch?

September 26th
Where: venue tbc
What time: 5-7pm. Children and other dependents are welcome
To help us with catering and room bookings, please register by contacting Jo Downey (jdowney@bournemouth.ac.uk)

Further details including room and speaker information will be provided nearer the time

 If you would like to offer an event, please contact Sara Crabtree, Amber Burton or Heather Savigny (scrabtree@bournemouth.ac.uk; aburton@bournemouth.ac.uk; hsavigny@bournemouth.ac.uk )


One Response to “A Women’s Academic Network at BU”

  1. Gill Malin

    Hi Heather
    Looking for your email address and just came across your blog – nice, I must get round to setting one up but there is never enough time! I use twitter to broadcast gender issue items I come across though so if you use that look me up.
    Thanks for the mention of ResNet and all best wishes for getting WAN set up and running. Now that Athena Swan has recognised that the issues are universal and affect women who have academic supporting roles (sound familiar? the exact reasons we extended the ResNet remit) and extended to cover arts as well as SET subjects networks of this type are as important as they every were. I hope WAN has lots of positive effects for individuals and the institution, as ResNet has done here.
    Take care and see you soon. Gill