What is your role and what does it involve?I have two roles at UCL. I am the Pro Provost (Equity & Inclusion) and I am the Co-Director of the Thomas Coram Research Unit, based in the Social Research Institute, where I am a Professor of Social Policy.
I have recently stepped into the Pro-Provost role, so I am very much in listening and learning mode, meeting the people at UCL who are doing EDI related work (which is a lot of people!), but in essence, I am the senior champion for equality, diversity and inclusion work at UCL.
In my role as Co-Director of TCRU, I keep the home fires burning for our unit of around 35 staff and 50 PhD students with the aim of enabling them to do their best work. Colleagues in TCRU are working mainly across three areas: children and children’s services, migration, and on family life, minoritized groups and gender. We published a book this November, Social Research for our Times , with UCL Press as part of our 50th Anniversary celebrations.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?This week marks my two-year anniversary at UCL. I had been at the University of Edinburgh for 15 years before that, where I had been Head of Social Policy and previously Director of their Q-Step programme (UCL has one as well - it promotes the use of data science in social science undergraduate training). Another important role that spans both UCL and Edinburgh is my work as an editor of an open access leave policy data base - which involves working with colleagues from over 50 countries, which I absolutely love - www.leavenetwork.org. My area of research expertise is parenting leave policies (so, maternity, paternity, parental leave, leave to care for sick children etc).
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?I had a tough spell with my health in my twenties (cancer) which I am so lucky to have survived, but which resulted in my becoming an amputee. This was just before starting my PhD at the European University Institute in Florence. I had been awarded a scholarship. My medical intervention clashed with the start of term, and I was told that I needed to ’turn up’ before the end of the academic year in order to retain the scholarship. I made it by the April! I think I’m most proud of this, as everything else has followed. Experiencing the before and after of disability was such an eye-opener. I’m very aware of the value of a few reasonable adjustments - and extremely grateful to the many managers along the way who have supported me to get on and contribute to my research community and to my students.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do listI am really excited about my new role as Pro Provost (Equity & Inclusion). It’s amazing to be working with so many passionate colleagues to foster a greater sense of belonging and inclusion for the whole of the UCL community so that colleagues and students can flourish and do what they do without unnecessary constraints or experience of prejudice and discrimination. I hope that I can build on the Eugenics Legacy work to further promote culture change around ableism and perhaps that UCL can influence other central London institutions to improve accessibility in Camden and beyond.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?Favourite album: Nina Simone - I have a few compilation albums of hers.
Favourite film: Kill Bill by Quentin Tarentino
Favourite novel: Circe by Madeline Miller
I guess I like a strong female lead character!
What advice would you give your younger self?I have developed a few life rules that help me out that I’d probably share with my younger self.
What would it surprise people to know about you?I’m a qualified yoga teacher and I have specialised in working with other amputees. I’m not currently teaching, two jobs is enough, but my yoga practice is really important to me.
What is your favourite place?Swimming in the sea with my husband in Crete over Minoan ruins.
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