Wedensday: WiP Training and Breast Cancer Bake Sale

After cooking one hundred mini cupcakes and 30 brownies for Annalisa’s bake sale for breast cancer care, I hosted the first WiP training day.


Following the formation of the IC WiP cohort in 2015, a number of academic lunches have been held to celebrate how lucky we are to work in such a dynamic and diverse department. The cohort will organise a range of events to ensure women are inspired to choose physics as an undergraduate degree, explore as a postgraduate and carry this enthusiasm into the academic world. Feedback from the academic lunches was that 100 % of attendees would like to attend another WiP event, and that gender specific training days would be especially popular. 

The PG WiP Training Day was open to all PhD students in the physics department, with particular emphasis on skill development for women in science.

The beginning of the day started with an introduction into stereotype research, and study of how female researchers were portrayed in the media. The group also watched a few videos showcasing the public perception of women in science and academia. Next they looked at female researchers and why leave, the fallacy of the superwoman and how to access help and support. Dr. Helen Goulding the trainer provided the cohort with a number of useful contacts and information.

The team then looked at how to have an impact and be assertive and confident. A number of exercises were completed, where our opinion of impact was evaluated and the cohort self-assessed their assertiveness. The cohort were introduced to ‘personal branding’, how to have presence and use body language to help them. Networking and presenting skills, already being developed by the other PG courses at the graduate school, were boosted in a women only environment. Finally the WiP looked at how to manage people around them, and avoid conflict with difficult people. During the closing session plans were made to host an event for UG WiP where trained PGs would impart their newfound skills and confidence.

Alongside impeccable training, the cohort quickly became friends and discussed avenues to network within the department. Professor Lesley Cohen, the academic cohort lead, gave a brilliant overview into what is currently going on for women in the physics department. The diverse background and experience of the attendees resulted in a lot of important information be shared, rather than be lost when people graduate and leave Imperial:

  • Range of different career paths available (entering the civil service, academia)
  • How to apply for fellowships, who has been successful and where they were
  • How to apply for travel grants (and women specific funding opportunities)
  • Conference abstract proposals
  • Academics and PGs who have children, and how they cope

Facts and Figures:

A short online survey was circulated online for feedback.

    • The group was largely composed of second and third year PhD students
    • 65 % of the cohort had been to the academic lunches before
    • 50 % of the cohort heard about the training day by e-mail. From now on, all information about events will be posted on the WiP website
    • The most popular sessions of the day were those on Impact, Assertiveness and Presentation Skils, the Introductory morning and Networking Advice
    • 100 % of attendees said they’d attend another WiP event at IC
    • 100 % of attendees said they would attend a networking cake/ tea afternoon in Summer 2015
    • 7 / 10 attendees said they’d run the seminar for years 1 & 2 (UG physics) in May 2015
    • 80 % of the group planned to have a career in physics

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