Posted on: May 7, 2021
Women in Academia - Q&A - Week 1
The status of women in academia has changed considerably over the last few decades, with more opportunities and careers contributing to a more level playing field. But there remain obstacles, and the situation varies from subject to subject, from institution to institution. We spoke to a range of women from across the world about their perspectives on academia, how the situation in higher education for women has changed over the years, and the issues they still face.
Over the next six weeks we'll be featuring a series of interviews with female instructors. This week's interviewee is Nicole Pollock, a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Social Care at Canterbury Christ Church University. You can find Nicole on Twitter at @NicolePollock01.
What would you consider your primary motivations for entering academia?
Since qualifying as a nurse with a diploma in higher education, I have continued studying and met many great academics who have inspired me along the way. I was keen to inspire future nurses and was a mentor in professional practice, so academia seemed like a natural progression for me, having always loved learning and been motivated by my own and others' development.
What, if anything, made you reluctant to enter academia?
Nothing. This seemed like a natural vocation for me.
Could you briefly describe the route you took to arrive at your present position?
I spent a number of years working as a nurse in both acute and community settings for both the National Health Service and the private healthcare provision. Whilst practicing, I topped up my diploma to be awarded a degree in Health and then studied an additional degree to become a specialist community public health nurse. I had a passion for sexual health provision and spent a number of years studying this area, later completing a Masters in Health and Wellbeing. Having been a mentor and practice assessor while in practice, I had always wanted to teach and support the profession as it evolved. When I entered academia, I completed my post-graduate certificate in Academic Practice and became a registered nurse teacher and fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Last year I was awarded Senior Fellowship of the Academy and have now commenced an Educational Doctorate.
Do you feel that there are any challenges you have faced that your male counterparts have not?
While I am aware that this is a problem in academia, this is something I have not personally experienced. I am an active member of the Aurora programme, which is a leadership development programme for women in academia. My involvement with this programme has been strongly supported by my workplace.
Many universities, such as Oxford, have recently proposed to diversify their curricula by prescribing books and articles from a more diverse range of authors. Do you think it’s important to include a variety of male and female authors on the reading list for your course?
I absolutely feel that it is important to include a diverse range of materials on reading lists. Not just gender specific, but also from varying backgrounds, particularly in nursing, as we need to consider and care for all individuals whose voices can start to be heard through appropriately selected literature.
What advice would you give to women entering academia today?
Go for it! It is such a rewarding career. It is stressful at times, but you are able to support and witness individual journeys to a vocation about which I am passionate. Key skills include organisation and enhanced communication, particularly as we all move towards new ways of working in response to the worldwide pandemic.