Meet the candidates for BNA Equal Opportunities & Diversity Rep

28th Jan 2019

Elections will open for the position of BNA 'Equal Opportunities & Diversity Representative' on Monday 11th February 2019. Read the manifestos of the three candidates below. 

As 'Equal Opportunities & Diversity Representative', the elected candidate will sit on the BNA’s National Advisory Committee. 

The Equal Opportunities & Diversity Representative is expected to take the lead at Committee level in order to:

  • advise the Council and Committee on Equality and Diversity (E&D) issues
  • seek ways to improve involvement where there may be under-represented groups within the BNA, as far as genuinely possible, and help the BNA achieve gender balance on e.g. programme committees, council etc.
  • annually review the BNA’s E&D policy
  • be the BNA’s primary contact and representative for addressing any E&D concerns raised by members and non-members

Meet the candidates

The 3 candidates are:  

 

Nesrine Ramadan - DPhil candidate in clinical neurosciences (University of Oxford)

Relevant positions/experience: 

  • Equalities representative at St Anne's College, The University of Oxford.
  • Student representative for the Staff Development committee at NDCN (Nuffield department of Clinical Neurosciences), The University of Oxford.
  • Student representative / Athena SWAN student representative at DPAG (department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics) at The University of Oxford.
  • International representative at St Anne’s College, The University of Oxford.
  • Conference coordinator at OXFEST (one of the largest student-led societies at the University of Oxford - promoting gender equality in STEM).
  • Event associate at the Science Innovation Union (SIU) - a global translation-in-science communication and training platform, bridging the gap between academia, industry and government to build a new generation of entrepreneurs.
  • Human resources assistant at Natixis (banking group in France).

Manifesto: I am currently a DPhil Candidate in Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Oxford. I qualified in Cell, Stem Cell and Developmental Biology with distinctions and trained in different research laboratories at Université Pierre et Marie Curie, The University of Manchester and Stockholm University. My research interests lie in the molecular analysis of neuromuscular disorders and investigation of therapeutic areas.

A focal point of my extracurricular activities intends to foster dialogue between scientists, societies, charities and governmental institutions to encourage discussions and initiatives related to equalities, inclusivity and diversity in academic and professional settings.

I strongly believe that STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) and innovation should be accessible, connect people and play a crucial role in sustainability, education, employment of disabled persons and define the future of organizations. I am involved in developing networks and events to encourage discussions and initiatives related to equalities, minority representation, promoting gender equality in STEMM, women in leadership, STEMM education, integrating sex-and-gender dimensions as well as the role of diversity and inclusivity in societal changes and in setting transformative agenda and policy. I am highly interested in the implication and role of science and scientists in policy making.

I am also convinced that blending both diplomacy and science which are underpinned by similar values such as compassion, honesty, courage, competence and perseverance, allows to develop new ecosystems that will shape the future of organizations and will allow to overcome challenges related to human identity and purpose.

Overall, the focus of my work at the intersection of science and diplomacy aims to develop robust structures to support sustainable and inclusive academic and professional environments across the globe.

I would be delighted to assist the BNA as an Equality and Diversity Representative to further work on consensus that control ethical progress and implementation of strategies that support good practice and cultural changes in the workplace.

 

Angela Richards - Senior Lecturer (Roehampton University & Open University)

Relevant positions/experience: 

  • Previously, Officer of the BPS Clinical Psychology Race and Culture Faculty (formerly Special Interest Group)
  • Vice Chair/Acting chair - Queen Square London Research Ethics Committee (formerly National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery & the Joint Institute of Neurosurgery Research Ethics Committee)
  • presenter at international conferences in countries such as China, Greece and Canada on cross-cultural issues; delivering workshops on implicit/unconscious bias in the UK including Slough and Wales.
  • Currently, I am involved in an award winning (and Royally recognised) incubator called ‘Stemettes’ whose mission is to get girls engaged in science at a young age (five years old onwards)
  • member of ‘Stempra’ a network for science communication; All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia (organised by the Alzheimer’s Society)
  • All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM (organised by the British Science Council);
  • network on Brexit and Science;
  • Health Care Professions Council;
  • member of NHS England's Patient and Public Voice (PPV) board;
  • regular attender at relevant events on diversity that can have an impact on science e.g., Royal Society’s Annual Diversity Conference; Deloitte’s showcase of diversity; Launch of Inclusive Companies hosted by Bloomberg (supported by The UK’s Minister for Women and Equalities, the Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP) Inclusion UK’s Minister for Women and Equalities);nCivil service events on diversity; various workshops on Charities and Diversity; trained on the Equality Act.

Manifesto: 

‘Even the Rat was White…’ (Gurtherie, 1976) - Diversity and Equality Matter in Neuroscience!

Originally published last century, Gurtherie’s book seems outdated. However, as recently as January this year at a UCL neuroscience talk given by Professor Lariviere and Professor Sugimoto, the latter mentioned that rats used in experiments were more likely to be male than female. Indeed, one YouTube channel that asked, ‘Why Don’t Scientists Use Female Mice?’ had slightly less than a quarter of a million views and a Google search returned 80m hits.

Even though the male rat is associated with neuroscience research, I see it as a metaphor for the unintentional under-representation of gender and ethnicity in our profession. It is this type of issue that compels me to apply for the role as BNA ‘Equal Opportunities & Diversity Representative’. Having joined the BNA as a student and regularly volunteered at its Festivals/Symposiums, I still find myself frequently feeling that the BNA could be doing more regarding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. My membership of the BNA, including involvement in the BNA Press-Office, has enabled me to understand the functions and profile of the BNA and, if given the chance, I would look forward to working with the BNA Office.

If I were elected, I would bring knowledge of policies on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and awareness of who could support the Committee and Council in making fully informed and up-to-date decisions about such issues. I have chaired research ethics committees where these issues were discussed, attended parliamentary events on STEM and Inclusion, and am experienced in science communication and public engagement. I am fully equipped to be the BNA’s primary contact and representative for addressing any Equality and Diversity concerns that could feed into reports and data analysis (GDPR trained) at Committee meetings and other means of communication (e.g. the Bulletin).

My vision is of someone who would try to rectify humiliating and misinformed media such as Google’s list of ‘Neuroscientists in the UK’ (accessed 09.01.19) where only 3 out of 30 were female by championing female neuroscientists. In addition, I would continue to proactively introduce early career BNA members to accomplished and inspirational female neuroscientists (most recently at our Christmas Symposium). We could showcase work done by our diverse members to challenge disappointing Google searches of ‘Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Neuroscientists in the UK’ which did not return one single appropriate result.

As neuroscientists, many of us will still probably need rats or mice in our experiments. However, hopefully as a potential Equality and Diversity Representative I will contribute to the future of the BNA so that it can answer questions about under-representation by implementing contemporary policies and a growing showcase of our ‘hidden’ role models. By doing this, I am confident that we will cultivate the talent within our profession and attract those who can see that the BNA has a place for them no matter what their ‘difference’ (including age, gender, disability or ethnicity) or indeed allegiance to female rodents!

 

Emma Yhnell - Health and Care Research Wales Fellow (Cardiff University)

Relevant positions/experience: 

My previous experience relates to completing laboratory research, clinically based research and public engagement and outreach activities. In all of these roles, as well as in general, equality and diversity is vital to ensuring that people feel valued, appreciated and most importantly treated fairly and with respect. In my research career I have worked with patient groups as well as individuals who have felt isolated or under-represented, therefore I am aware of the benefits that equality and diversity can bring to research as well as individuals. Enabling all areas of society to contribute to research and feel appreciated and valued for doing so is vital. Furthermore, equality and diversity extends far beyond academic research and is an important part and principle of our national legislation. I currently sit on several public engagement and outreach committees and due to my experience completing various public engagement and outreach events I am familiar with equality and diversity related issues. I believe that with a well thought out and thorough approach many equality and diversity issues need not arise. Furthermore, if equality and diversity issues do arise I am familiar with what can be done to resolve such issues to make progress in the future to ensure that they do not happen again.

Manifesto: 

If elected to the position of Equal Opportunities and Diversity Representative on the BNA Committee, in addition to promoting equality and diversity across the organisation, I would seek to focus my efforts across three priority areas; early career researchers, gender equality and public engagement and outreach.

As an early career researcher, I am all too familiar with the issues that affect us. Short term contracts, limited funding and academic pressures can be difficult to handle. Therefore I would work with the BNA to see how we can empower early career neuroscience researchers to ensure that researchers feel confident and able to choose the career path that they want to in order to fulfil their potential.

Lack of gender equality is an ongoing issue that is particularly prevalent across the sciences and particularly in academic research. We have made progress, however there is still some way to go. I want to consider the needs of different members to ensure that the BNA can be an inclusive organisation which demonstrates gender equality and empowerment across its membership, so that gender does not have an influence on outcomes.

Finally, I am an advocate for public engagement and outreach, which will ultimately help to ensure that the neuroscience community is as diverse as it should be. I want to work with the BNA to advice on how public engagement can be utilised to draw in new audiences so that neuroscience can be inclusive, knowledge enhancing and fun for everyone.

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