Women in LoLo

LoLo and ERBE Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) stand to end gender bias and all forms of discrimination. To celebrate International Women’s Day, we caught up with a few of our LoLo alumna to see what they had been up to since the completion of their PhDs, what their experiences of EDI were (both within and post-LoLo), and how the CDT equipped them with opportunities and experiences which helped lead them to where they are now.

We have set up this page to spotlight the excellent women who study/studied and work/worked in the LoLo CDT Centre.

Some of our graduates and supervisors shared their experiences of being a Woman in LoLo. Here are some reflections which emerged:

1. The field of energy and buildings is still male dominated

This seems to be due to a combination of historic reasons and our field’s slant towards physics, engineering and more recently big data and computing, which are male dominated. I am thankful to have always worked with lovely men who took me seriously, but our women have shared negative experiences from previous jobs such as being told, “that is a typical female view” or being winked at by contractors on site visits.

2. The construction industry is changing

Thankfully, stories such as Christina’s of being told “sorry we can’t give you a construction internship since that would mean putting a separate female toilet on site” are unimaginable now. However, as in many industries there is still some way to go before women are fully accommodated. For example, Pamela was talking about the challenges of working less than 5 days per week in order to care for her family.

3. LoLo welcomes women

We recruit a lot of women in LoLo, not by ‘positive discrimination’ or because we have to, but because they come to us as highly skilled and very bright individuals, so we take them on.

We don’t want everyone in LoLo to be exactly the same as each other, because, as Michelle said, “we need a diversity of researchers in our team” and “we appreciate a diversity of life experiences”. Sofie pointed out that, “Women make up 50% of building users, yet their voice is often absent in the creation and studying of them – let us change that.

Our students do comment that Lolo allows better balance of work and family commitments than their previous jobs, due to the flexible working allowed. Some people are fortunate enough to have female supervisors, which Faye described as being “incredibly valuable”.

4. Our female graduates have big ambitions

Our graduates often head into jobs in which the gender balance is not equal, but that doesn’t stop them.

As Faye said,
Now, if I do find myself in male dominated environments, I know that I belong as much as they do, and that I can achieve equally ambitious career goals, if I would like to.”

Our women do indeed have big ambitions. Several graduates have attained prestigious positions in academia including one assistant professor, others have headed for government, consultancy and industry.

5. We are open to suggestions

We would like to see our women thrive in their research and their personal development during their time with us in LoLo. Accommodating women of all ages and stages is therefore very important, and we still have some thinking to do. For example, in the area of enabling those who have children not to miss out on CDT activities and training. We are open to ideas of solutions from inspiring workplaces as to how to help our women get the most out of their time in LoLo!

Follow us on Twitter @LoLoCDT to be the first to know about a new article from one of the excellent Woman in LoLo.

Dr Jenny Crawley – UCL Academic Manager

Please use #WomenInLoLo #PressforProgress #WomenInSTEM  and #InternationalWomensDay when tweeting on these topics.