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Advancing Your Research Career In Sport

Evaluation Report

Advancing Your Research Career in Sport: A One Day Career Development Workshop For Women, 19th November 2014, held at Weetwood Hall Hotel and Conference Centre

  1. Introduction
    This report provides an evaluation of the one -day career development conference aimed at supporting the research career development of women working within the area of sports related studies (REF Unit 26). This was one day conference was held on the 19th November 2014 and funded by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) research centre, Human Resources (HR) and the University Research Office (URO). It was proposed as one initiative to complement and add to the wider work of the institution addressing the imbalance of women in senior research/leadership roles, such as the Aurora Leadership programme; Athena Swan and the Equality Challenge Unit’s (ECU) Gender Charter Mark; the Research Career Development Concordat.
  2. Rationale for a specific focus on REF Unit 26 (Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism)
    Analysis of our recent submission to REF Unit 26 (Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism), one of the university's largest (53 submitted), but where women were significantly under-represented, provided the rationale for a targeted event, focused on those at early to mid-career level working within this field.
    • 19 out of 53 total number of researchers were women (35.84%)
    • Only 4 of the 19 women submitted were in senior positions (1 prof and 3 readers) (7.54%)
    • Of the 19 women submitted, 6 were Early Career Researchers (31.57%)
  3. Programme:
    The conference programme was a mixture of introductory keynote, interactive workshops (delegates chose two from three – see short overview below), a panel question and answer with experienced colleagues, and a performance ethnography by Dr Kitrina Douglas, a senior research fellow in sport, to close the day.
    • Workshop 1: Building your Research Portfolio using the Researcher Development Framework
    • The aim of the workshop was to introduce researchers to professional development planning, the Researcher Development Framework (RDF) and Planner, and to reflect their strengths/weakness and CPD activities in the future.
    • Workshop 2 Having a Full Life: work/life balance and a research career
      This workshop focused achieving a work/life balance and addressed strategic ways for delegates to achieve success across multiple areas of their lives.
    • Workshop 3 Presenting Yourself Confidently
      This interactive workshop engaged delegates in reflecting and enhancing their CV and discussed strategies to help build academic reputation.
  4. Delegates
    The conference was open to women staff in the university working in the areas covered by REF Unit 26 (Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism), doctoral students, and to external delegates from other universities, and as such, formed part of the wider programme of research and development activities of the Centre. Funding from the DEI, HR and the URO provided for up to 50 staff and doctoral students from within the University to attend the conference, with external delegates charged for their attendance. 85 women attended (including conference organiser, keynote and workshop speakers) from nine universities including Leeds Beckett. 25 were external delegates from: Bath; York St Johns; Loughborough; Durham; Coventry; Chester; Edge Hill and Bedford Universities.

    Delegates internal to Leeds Beckett: 60
    • 44 staff members (of which 17 were within 5 years of completing their PHD; 11 mid career/reader/research fellow)
    • 16 current doctoral students
  5. Delegate evaluations
    Evaluations for the day have been overwhelmingly positive (based on 51% return rate; more are being received daily via online evaluation).
    • Overall view of the day: 88%% found it extremely useful or useful
      (39% extremely useful; 49% Useful)
    • Programme: 96% found the programme extremely useful or useful
      (39% extremely useful; 57% useful)
    What delegates like best?: comments include:
    • ‘Being focused upon women's careers I found it easier to network and integrate’
    • ‘Hearing from women at different stages of their careers about what has worked (and not worked) for them’
    • ‘The supportive and enthusiastic atmosphere. It was well organised’.
    • ‘Really excellent opportunity to have the space to think, express yourself and feel free to share experiences without feeling intimidated. It was an important statement to have women only and extremely necessary in a predominantly male environment’
    • ‘really impressed by number of delegates but also in the diversity in terms of career stage - expected it to be a lot of students or early academics (like myself) but was pleased to see so many senior academics - really added to the discussions in the workshops at q&a to have women at different points in their career’
    • ‘Really well organised, great focussed and inspirational sessions. Lovely to meet lots of people…. Also really good to be off uni premises - Westwood Hall was fine!
    • ‘The networking; the opportunity to talk (AND BE LISTENED TO!); the opportunity to celebrate and build confidence’
    • ‘Pleasant vibe. Willingness of all to network At times a bit too feministic & the content would be suitable for everyone’
  6. Looking forward to future events
    • The numbers of delegates points to a high level of motivation by Leeds Beckett women, as well as external delegates, to engage in research career development activities.
    • Women working within Sports related subject areas in other universities often work in groups where they have few female colleagues. As a result, many delegates particularly commented on the targeted aspect of the day and how this impacted on the ethos on the day (there were, however, one or two delegates expressing their unease about it being women-only).
    • Although there was a mix of comments some suggested that the programme was not specific enough to the challenges of being a woman working in sport.
    • Future events could consider:
      • Using the same format and focus with different workshops/longer or more focused workshops
      • Be more differentiated in terms of the level of researcher – e.g. offer one at moving towards readership/professorship (The presence of more experienced researchers was, however, specifically commented on as useful by early career researchers).
      • Consider the potential in creating a network of different universities to allow the event to 'rotate' between different venues each year.
      • Consider widening the event focus to women across the university in different subject fields and/or to men and women researchers

Professor Anne Flintoff
28th November 2014

Previous Conferences

Advancing your research career in sport: a one-day career development conference for women.
We are delighted to be able to host this inaugural event aimed at supporting the research career development of women working in the broad field of sport studies. Please visit our conference and events section for full details.