Who is the most inspirational woman?

IWD2017In recognition of International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8 March, the Faculty ran a competition for students. We asked them to write about a woman who has inspired them, in their education, work or personal life, and why the person they were nominating should be our ‘most inspirational woman’ of 2017.

We are pleased to announce Hannah Butler, a Postgraduate Diploma in Children’s Nursing student, as the winner. The two runners up are BSc adult nursing students, Kiran Shukla and Faith Carmichael.

Hannah wrote about how her mum inspired her to follow in her footsteps and pursue nursing as a career. Here is her entry:

Photo 1“I am inspired by my mum, Kate. I followed her footsteps into nursing 50 years after she trained at King’s College Hospital. As a student, she met Dame Cecily Saunders, who was setting up St Christopher’s Hospice at the time, and found her vision inspiring. Mum is the kind of nurse I hope to become; deeply empathic, compassionate, a strong advocate for quality care for her patients and staff looking after them. An early graduate of the Open University, she moved from acute medicine to become a District Nurse. It was at this point that Cecily’s vision, the Open University’s questioning approach and care in the community came together to influence the rest of her career. She had senior leadership roles in the NHS and Voluntary Sector and throughout her career has gone back to the floor, caring for patients and their families, knowing that there is nowhere better to learn about the reality of the Board’s plans. Often initially underestimated (the secret to her success?), she sets about her work without noise and grandstanding, always with a smile, and has incredible clarity of vision and tenacity. I don’t know anyone more effective at achieving positive change.”

Kiran Shukla nominated Margaret Sanger, an American birth control activist, educator, writer and nurse who opened the first birth control clinic in the United States. Here is part of her entry:

“I am nominating Margaret Sanger because she risked her life and career in order to ensure women all over the world have pregnancies that are in their control. Sanger founded Planned Parenthood, using the heartache and distress from her mother’s premature death due to excessive pregnancies to liberate women by advocating for their right to birth control… Sanger dedicated her life to protecting and supporting women, and I think it is only fair we thank her with a gesture of gratitude.”

Faith Carmichael nominated her personal tutor. Here is part of her entry:

“I would like to nominate my personal tutor and cohort lead Nicola Davis for being the most inspirational woman. Nikki has always supported me since day one of my nursing degree… I think any nursing student would be blessed to have someone like Nikki to learn from to become the best nurse you can be.”

This competition was sponsored by the Athena SWAN working group of the Faculty. Athena SWAN encourages and recognises commitment by advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) in higher education and research. It also works to recognise efforts to address gender equality more broadly.

Read more about the Faculty’s Athena SWAN work.

The highs and lows of submission

We are delighted to celebrate our SILVER award which was announced in April – a big sigh of relief and a huge sense of achievement. But one of the things uppermost in my mind has been ‘what have I learnt in the previous 12 months or so?’

Working towards completing the submission in November 2014 was hard work but also rewarding.  It provided the opportunity for me to not only better understand the culture and practices of where I work but to analyse its strengths and limitations.

Looking back I wish I had begun drafting the submission much earlier (haven’t we all heard that before) because there were many times when I didn’t think things would come together, queried whether we were achieving anything and generally couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

So my key message for anyone working towards the next submission in November is begin drafting your submission NOW – it is amazing the thoughts and insights it generates.  While there were times when I had a love hate relationship with the application process, I now look back and realise that the information requested really is pertinent and merits careful consideration.

The application really does help inform an action plan so if anyone has November firmly in their sights – stay focused and keep going!!!!


A landmark celebration

The teamWhen we started thinking ways to promote the visibility of activities undertaken as part of the Athena SWAN initiative within the Faculty and beyond, we decided that a good idea would be to start a blog. What I did not realise when supporting this idea was that at some point I will need to write a blog, and “how do you do that?” So while you read through this post, please imagine that I am wearing my ‘Learner’ blogger t-shirt and forgive me if by the end of this it sounds more of an academic paper or an essay rather than an actual blog.

As many of you will know, Athena SWAN – the charter recognising and celebrating good employment practice for women working in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) – has become a topic of conversation at meetings within the Faculty and in the University more widely. Over the last few months the Self Assessment Team (SAT) has undertaken considerable activities and worked very closely with staff members in the Faculty at all levels to promote equality and work-life balance. Our main stream of work is underlined by the principle of developing and sustaining a culture that recognises and values the ‘little things that matter’ to our staff and students. We champion inclusivity and honesty about the things that we do well on and things we need to improve. Data from our initial work in the Faculty have been submitted in our application for a Silver Award, which is about celebrating progress and showing ambition.

FoodTo celebrate the work undertaken so far and our Silver application submission, we had some time out enjoying an “afternoon tea” featuring appetising sandwiches followed by scrummy scones and finger-licking miniature sweet deserts (left), not necessarily in that particular order! We all agreed that everything was delicious but we couldn’t agree on what particular order you should eat these. Do you eat the sandwiches, the scones or the sweets first? Also we didn’t agree how one should eat scones: is it jam or cream first? Aside of eating order what I definitely know is that I needed help walking out having eaten everything.

RuthThe celebration was great and the Silver award will be very much welcomed; but any award is just the beginning of a process not the end. Despite the progress that has been made, there is no doubt that there is still a need for improvement and to make sure that good practice is sustainable within the Faculty; to that end our action plan is key to continue improving. And who knows perhaps our next tea celebration may include a glass of champagne, and the debate will then be about what you have first; the tea or champagne?

Please keep visiting our website and blog for updates and developments with our work and action plan. Your engagement and support with this is crucial to our success.

Thank you all.
Julia, on behalf of the Athena SWAN SAT
P.S. Answers to the “How to have afternoon tea?” questions will be helpful!

Inspirational Opportunities

From Louise:

As chair of a self-assessment team (SAT), it is all too easy when co-ordinating Athena SWAN initiatives to focus on what policies and strategies are needed and what measures we should use to monitor impact. In part, this is because our Athena SWAN work occurs with thoughts of our next application or re-application for Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards firmly on the horizon. Of course this process helps us maintain momentum and ensures that we strive to design, implement and monitor good practice initiatives that have a direct and positive impact on the working lives of staff in our departments. This is rewarding, particularly as someone whose programme of research focuses on workforce issues, but what I want to champion is the networking opportunities that are integral to the Athena SWAN process.

Over the past 12 months I have been lucky enough to attend several ‘Athena SWAN’ events both at King’s via the Champions Network and externally. These have provided opportunities to share good practice ideas and to meet truly inspirational people that have inspired and made me think critically about my own attitudes and priorities for myself as well as for the organisation and colleagues. The value of networking was exemplified by a recent visit to the Department of Nursing & Midwifery at Queen’s University (QUB) where myself and colleagues were warmly welcomed by members of their SAT. Not only were we appreciative of their time freely given but also by their enthusiasm and wisdom. Being able to discuss ideas and experiences face-to-face with a team that have been successful in achieving a Silver award is invaluable.

The key message is take every opportunity to network, share ideas and support each other. We all know this is good or even best practice but it is easy to forget and even easier not to action, particularly when our busy schedules tempt us away from seminars, talks or other events!

Going for Silver Event

From Julie:

What has become apparent during my time as a member of the self-assessment team (SAT) is that, whilst Athena SWAN focuses on gender equality, it provides an opportunity for us to review and progress working practices to the benefit of all in the School. A good starting point was the staff survey. The responses of staff identified a number of areas in need of greater clarity, for example, access to staff development funds which has been addressed in two ways: the appointment of two new colleagues to the Staff Development Committee (SDC) to give better staff representation; and a change in policy with all funds being allocated by the SDC rather than smaller amounts being allocated via the department heads.

At the end of May I attended an Athena SWAN going for Silver event, going for gold comes next! The event was organized by health Schools. It was of interest to note that FNSNM was the only School of Nursing & Midwifery present. The commitment of the College was evident with good representation from other Schools and departments including Medicine, Health & Social Care and Institute of Psychiatry. The key point made at the event was the need for a Silver submission to build on previous work. For the School this means building on the Bronze Award achieved by the College in 2013. The staff survey is one example of identifying the baseline and building on this to further develop best practice for all staff.

What strikes me about the School is that we have developed strong mechanisms for evidencing best practice, for example, in relation to teaching. This is clear from the ongoing improvements in the annual monitoring by Shared Services, previously NHS London, and the NMC. However, it has taken us time to recognize innovation, often because we have seen it as best practice. The Silver submission provides an opportunity to showcase best practice with regards to the working environment in the School for staff and not just students. The SAT, chaired by Dr Louise Barriball is working on the submission and gathering supporting evidence. My experience on the SAT has reminded me that whilst there are always opportunities for further development there are areas where the School has already begun to address the action plan developed as part of the College Bronze Award.

Julie Bliss

Welcome to our journey

From Louise

The Self Assessment Team for Athena SWAN at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery welcomes you to our first ever blog post!

I have never blogged before and as I am writing (or trying to write) this short piece I am realising how helpful it is to take stock and reflect on how far we have travelled. Before providing an overview on the progress to date a personal reflection: what is good practice may sometimes be obvious, designing a strategy to implement that good practice may prove challenging but changing established mind sets always requires steely determination.

The SAT was established in October 2013. Members are drawn from different backgrounds and bring a range of perspectives and skills but we are all committed to two key objectives: advancing women’s careers and promoting good practice in the work place

The SAT meets monthly and we have been busy on a number fronts in order to implement the action plan agreed for the College’s Bronze Award and prepare an application for a Silver Award for the School (November 2014). Our first key achievement was launching a Staff Opinion Survey in the New Year which we have used to direct and prioritise areas for action:

  • Work stream on flexible working led by Emma Briggs
  • Work stream on career breaks led by Mary Malone and Julia Philippou
  • Work stream on management of leavers led by Ruth Ohlsen

We will be posting regularly with updates on our progress and issues. It won’t just be me posting for the SAT, you can look forward to contributions from our workstream leads as well as other members of the team.

If you have any comments or questions for the SAT, or are going through the process yourself, then we’d love to hear from you.