EDM culture supports family life

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Senior lecturer and head of EDM’s Equity Diversity and Inclusivity committee, Laura Fogg-Rogers is passionate about communicating engineering to new audiences.

“Engineering can make a difference to our future, but it’s got an image problem in that people don’t think it’s relevant to society. I’m trying to change representations of engineering and show some of the amazing things that can be done, both through educating our engineers and communicating with schools.”

Communication is key for diversifying engineering, but inclusive support from employers, like UWE, is also essential to enable those who’ve joined the profession, to continue.

Laura’s background is in science communication but working for UWE for the past seven years has given her first-hand experience of how the department supports progression of those with families, and, is continuing that support in the current COVID-19 crisis. 

“When I first arrived at UWE, I only had one young child and when I got pregnant with my second child they were brilliant with maternity leave and also return to work. 

My line managers understand the situation and have been really supportive of me, so I’ve always been able to balance and pursue what I want to do, whilst still being able to be around with my kids as well. As I’ve developed projects of my own choice, I’ve slowly worked up my hours, from 3 to 4, and now 5 days a week. 

The culture as a whole in EDM is quite supportive of family demands, with meetings taking place after 10am and generally finishing by 4pm, to fit around school pick-ups and drop-offs. And when I’ve done teaching, they’ve been really supportive of organising teaching time to fit with the hours that I can do.” 

Laura’s particularly impressed by how UWE is protecting full pay for staff who are now juggling home-schooling responsibilities during the school shutdown in response to COVID-19. 

“I think we are really lucky working at UWE. There is a big understanding that with schools closed, work time is massively cut down and UWE has been really supportive of that. 

Lisa Brodie, head of the department, has been emphasizing a focus on what we can produce rather than the hours worked. It’s been great to have that understanding during all this craziness.” 

Laura’s experience as a working mum, has given her a good understanding of how supporting employees is crucial for a flourishing workforce. She used this experience in leading EDM’s recent bid to achieve renewal of a Bronze Athena SWAN award. Now Laura, along with other members of EDM’s Equity Diversity and Inclusivity committee, is taking further steps to embed inclusivity in the department, and it’s not just for staff… 

“The amazing thing is that we are embedding equity, diversity and inclusion into our student programme from September. Getting students thinking about these sort of practices and ideas whilst at UWE, to then take into their future work-life.” 

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