Written by Dr Ah-Lai Law, Diversity & Inclusion Champion in FoLSM
I am the Diversity and Inclusion Representative for The Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine (FoLSM) whilst working as a postdoc at the Randall Division. My time working in different academic institutions has helped me recognise that research staff work in a unique environment. The academic environment is not less or more stressful than a job in industry or in the corporate world and is not less “real”. Quite simply, the stress is different. Most of us are in academia because the research is interesting and it engages our minds. We never stop thinking about the research we do and our research becomes part of us; perhaps similar to nurturing a child and wanting your child to succeed. We often work self-inflicting hours to achieve deadlines and to get the result we want. Hours spent getting an experiment to work is soul draining but when you do succeed, the reward of the euphoric feeling of gaining new knowledge is immense and addictive and makes the constant battle with the peaks and troughs worthwhile. This drive we have makes competition fierce. This, I feel has, helped develop a culture where working long hours are normal and sometimes even expected of you. The competitive environment also adds to the pressure. Most of the time, the pressure is manageable but sometimes this pressure turns into behaviour that is bullying and harassment, which perhaps was not even intentional.
The Research Staff Network (RSN) representatives recognise that bullying, harassment and discrimination exists and this can occur across many different levels in the academic hierarchy and these unwanted behaviours come in many forms. The FoLSM Bullying and Harassment Awareness month is a campaign to
help raise the awareness of bullying, harassment and discrimination and to offer sources of help and advice. We have put on two repeating events: Monday 20th March: 12-2 pm at Guy’s and Tuesday 28th 4-6 pm at Waterloo to help us understand what to do and how to deal with bullying, harassment and discrimination. These events will also help us to understand more about the different problems people experience so that we can change existing unwanted behaviour. My role as Diversity and Inclusion Representative is to listen to your views, problems and suggestions and relay this back to the decision making heads to better our work place environment and make it a place that is inclusive and supportive to allow everyone to thrive.
If you are interested in similar events being held within your faculty, please contact Dr Amy Birch at email@example.com
Ah-Lai Law is a postdoc in the Randall Division. She is currently the Diversity and Inclusion Representative for The Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine and is a member of the Faculty Diversity & Inclusion Steering Group and Kings Harassment Working Group. Ah-Lai completed her PhD at UCL and joined Kings after her first postdoc in Paris. These posts have provided her with experience in a variety of research environments and a clear understanding of the obstacles often experienced by research staff both in their native country and in a foreign country. Ah-Lai enjoys running and the arts in her spare time.