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Lunch Meeting December 2nd 2014

On Tuesday, December 2nd 2014, the Halkes Women Faculty Network organized a round-table discussion meeting, from 12.30h to 13.45h in the Foyer of the Gymnasion. Women from different stages in their career (PhD candidates to full professors) attended the meeting to exchange experiences, tips, tricks, and pitfalls on the topics of expat experience, leadership, work-life balance, and visibility and social media.
Round table 3

Round table work-life balance

At the round table on Work Life Balance a diverse group of academics participated, coming from a broad range of disciplines varying from humanities to science and from PhD student to full professors. We had a very personal discussion, which was both empowering and reflective. We first exchanged personal experiences on combining an academic career with our private lives, but soon started to discuss the issue on a conceptual level. What is work? We agreed that working in academia is more than a job; it is where our passion is. In that respect many of us had the experience that we keep on thinking (and sometimes reading and writing) about our work outside office hours and that (in principle) we did not mind. What is life? Life involves work, but also other important domains like having a home, a family and doing sports. Life is under pressure from work which does not respect the borders of these other domains. We discussed examples where these borders are not accepted. Sometimes we cross these borders internally, for example by our moral norms about being a good teacher or colleague and feelings of guilt when we let students wait. Sometimes borders are crossed by external forces, when supervisors do not respect boundaries of working hours or science is a ‘greedy institution’ in general. We ended with reflecting upon what we learned from each other, sympathizing with each other’s situation and giving advice about how to remain balance in our academic careers.

(Inge Bleijenbergh, table chair)

Round table 2

Round table Leadership

At the table were 11 people who came from basically three disciplines namely Medicine, Astronomy, Management and Social Sciences. They were PhD students, Masters Students, and Faculty members.

What makes a good leader?

The following were the qualities mentioned:

  • Listening and being attentive
  • Transparency
  • Recognize group dynamics
  • Solve problem inspire subordinates
  • Trust the people in the organization
  • Be a role model
  • Self reflective on her /his own biases about people

People also posed the counter question “are leaders born or made?” The response was leaders are neither born nor made. However, if we argue that leaders are born, we make reference to peoples personalities. There are people who are extroverts and quick in taking actions. The extroverts look like ‘natural’ leaders but they may not necessarily be so. The introvert personalities are often very quiet and slow but can be very efficient leaders if given space to act. Conclusion? Whatever the case, leaders have to constantly learn how to lead.

How can leaders influence careers of subordinates?

  • Recognize their skills
  • Provide opening for their personal development
  • Follow up and ask for feed back
  • Build the best out of a person

How can one learn good leadership skills?

  • Be open to learn
  • Take criticisms positively
  • Consult with senior members of staff
  • Look out for role models
  • Train and do refresher courses

Would you say you have a person in your close surroundings that you consider to be a role model to you? Have you thought of talking to this person, asking for career advice.

  • All members pointed that they have persons that they seek career advice from very often. However, they said this guidance is not only from one person. Depending on the career need, one can always go to more than one person for career guidance

Evaluation of discussion

  • A male astronomer said for the first time in his life, he has had a discussion with a different ‘touch’ because every member was an expert and also a leaner at the leadership session.
  • The discussions were empowering in terms of the knowledge and the insights shared during the session.
  • It enriched the leadership skills individuals were already practicing in their own contexts

(Cecilia Draru, table chair)

Round table 3

Round table Expat Experience

A selection of points discussed:

- How to organize your pension when there is not an obvious perspective in one (your) country
- Why an experience abroad is useful for acdemic forming (actually why is required):

  • see how things are done in another country
  • appreciate differences
  • become more flexible and open for other ways of working
  • develop a view on your own identity through comparison

- Difficult choices: often friends, family and partner do not understand a choice that requires so much of your life and particularly some experience abroad. It is very important to find people that can support you and also understand what are your ambitions and ask your partner, family to accept this phase of your life.

(Annalisa Fasolino, table chair)