WHEN's Blog

A selection of insightful pieces written by women who work across the breadth of the higher education sector


The Edit Issue 6: WHEN celebrates International Women's Day

Mar 06, 2020

By Madiha Sajid, WHEN Development and Operations Manager

I am very pleased to introduce The Edit on International Women's Day. This edition looks at positive action that we can take in our workplaces to foster gender equality. I am Madiha Sajid and as Development and Operations Manager for WHEN, it has been my privilege to contribute towards positive action that is happening at workplaces throughout the country. WHEN is celebrating International Women’s Day 2020 with our institutional member, Loughborough University with a masterclass on the Power of Networking. Moreover, we are thrilled to be a sponsor for the Times Higher Education symposium on Equality, Diversity...

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Positive action in our workplace to foster gender equality

Mar 06, 2020

By Susanne Tauber, Associate Professor and Rosalind Franklin Fellow at University of Groningen

The past decades have seen a surge of initiatives designed to foster gender equality in the workplace. Worryingly, organizations’ commitment to gender diversity has not yet translated into meaningful progress. How is that possible? I took the invitation to contribute this editorial to WHEN as an opportunity to dive into that question. Being a fellow of a gender equality initiative myself, I see two main factors undermining the effectiveness of positive action to foster gender equality in HE: inadvertent backlashes and power struggles.

Inadvertent backlashes against gender equality


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In praise of allies

Mar 06, 2020

By Rosie Russell

Over the last few years I have become aware of a group of people in my life that are more than just friends, colleagues or acquaintances. A group of people that I had not thought about or paid any attention to.


They are a group of people who embody what we are trying to achieve with equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives. They walk the talk and make a difference to so many lives yet they often do so quietly, in the background. Yes, they might be that senior manager publicly making a difference. More often, they are the colleague next to you with a kind word or the person in the next office politely challenging a misunderstanding or a biased remark.


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The only way to achieve lasting change is to make sure everyone feels part of the journey

Mar 06, 2020

Interview with Srabani Sen OBE by Clare Hewitt

Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to set up Full Colour. 

Over 30 years of my career has been in the not for profit. My professional background is campaigning and strategic communication. Through that route I rose up through the ranks and became successively the CEO of three organizations. Firstly Alcohol Concern (now Alcohol Change) which campaigned around the impact of alcohol misuse and alcohol harm. Second was an organization which is now called Contact. When I was there, it was called Contact a Family. We worked to improve the lives of families with disabled children. It was a mixture of campaigning but also providing...

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Thinking of gender equality actions in academia? Take inspiration from the PLOTINA Library of Actions

Mar 06, 2020

By Dr Charikleia Tzanakou, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Diversity Policy, Research and Practice, Oxford Brookes University

For most of the past decade, I have focused my academic research on understanding how organisations (especially higher education institutions) develop and implement gender equality actions and how these can transform organisations through structural and cultural change. What has fascinated me in this pursuit is how these organisational activities interact with individuals’ perceptions and decisions about their careers and their personal life.

In the past four years, I have been grateful for my involvement as one of the main social scientists of the...

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A gentle revolution - how I took my own positive action to build a career for me.

Mar 06, 2020

By Ayesha Saleem-Malik

My name is Ayesha and I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and a registered Time to Think Coach, Facilitator and Teacher. Currently I’m developing two sister brands – The Thinking Soul (coaching, facilitation, workshops) and daalicious®, (award winning organic artisan daal)What follows is a brief account of how I arrived here. 

When thinking about where to start, a memory came to mind, and it seems like a good place to begin. A few months prior to sitting my finals, I can recall sitting at a desk one weekend, the sun streaming into my room – definitely anti-revision weather! Bored and uninspired, and as an act of...

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Welcoming new WHEN team members Aimee and Ivana - find out how you can volunteer for WHEN!

Mar 06, 2020

WHEN is thrilled to welcome new members to our core team. 

Aimée Sykes has recently joined the WHEN team as Head of Communications and Engagement. She has worked in Higher Education for 3 years, and prior to that held a career in local government libraries before relocating to Bristol. Aimée works as a Business Liaison Manager at UWE Bristol, and formerly coordinated UWE’s Women’s Forum, their staff network for women. Aimée is an Aurora Alumnus, and leads UWE Bristol’s Aurora Alumnae Network. Aimée is passionate about advancing the lived experience of women in higher education, and is excited to start addressing this on a national...

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You can't be what you can't see - how The Girls Network is inspiring girls 14-19 to reach further

Mar 06, 2020

By Nat Rosetti, Head of Communications and Impact

“I now know my worth.” Aida, The Girls’ Network mentee

The Girls’ Network aims to inspire and empower girls aged 14-19 from the least advantaged communities by connecting them to a mentor and a network of professional role models who are women. We believe:


  • That no girls should have their futures limited by their gender, background, or parental income


  • That all girls should be supported to realise their ambitions, to discover their self-worth, and to develop their capacity to shape their world and their future


  • That you can’t be what you can’t see and that all girls deserve to...
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The Edit Issue 5 introduction: Welcome to Anna and Kate

Dec 02, 2019

Welcome to the 5th issue of The Edit. In this issue we explore how gender bias has affected women in their career journeys. We have some fascinating insights from Dr Sonia Virdee, a member of the WHEN Advisory Board, as well as from contributors from China and Italy. We also have practical career tips from Perrett Laver who ran the extremely popular career surgeries at our WHEN conference.

WHEN CEO Alice Chilver is currently on maternity leave and appointed Kate Faxen as Director of Operations and Anna Bewick as Director of Development.


The WHEN team have put together a great programme of events for 2019-20 which you can read about on the WHEN website. We are also...

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Navigating the labyrinth: why are the way-markers less clear for women?

Dec 02, 2019

by Dr Sonia Virdee

Are our values truly reflected in the HE sector?

Most of us, I think, work in HE because it accords with our values. We believe in the power that creating new knowledge and educating people has in making the world a better place: through social mobility, technological developments, enriching our culture, and contributing to well-being and prosperity. We enjoy being part of an enlightened, thinking community, where discourse, analysis and debate are welcomed and where many voices can be heard. We are used to diversity - diversity of knowledge, expertise, opinion; and many universities are truly global in their reach and in their staff and student communities, and/or...

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