PRISM Speakers - September 2018 Insights

We kicked off our Speakers series with talks from Sophie Fardell-Rudd (Principal Technical Officer, Network Rail), Dr Sally Basker (CEO, Exeter Science Park), and Dr John Bruun (Women in Physics working group, Institute of Physics).

As a founding member of PRISM Exeter, Sophie provided an overview of the group's motives for setting up the network, focussing on the lack of visibility of LGBTQ+ people in STEMM but also the lack of STEMM representation in queer media. Sophie then took us on a journey through her own career as an out gay woman at Network Rail. She praised the award-winning Archway LGBTQ+ inclusion group at Network Rail and highlighted its importance through on her personal experiences of harassment by her work colleagues.

John presented highlights from a recent "Pride of Physics" event hosted by the Institute of Physics at Imperial College London at which attendees were invited to discuss issues affecting LGBTQ+ inclusion and explore how to make physics more supportive and welcoming to everyone.

Sally spoke about her experiences navigating her career as a gay trans woman. She spoke about her early research career in satellite navigation technologies and discussed how her experiences differed in the different countries she had had to work in. She also gave an exciting overview of the Exeter Science Park and its development plans going forward.

We had around a dozen attendees to this first event, with people finding out about the event predominantly via word-of-mouth and internal communications at their places of work. Eight attendees filled out our feedback survey which asked which area of STEMM they worked in (3 Science; 3 Tech; 1 Engineering; 1 Science and Mathematics); who they would like to hear from at future events; and whether they would be prepared to pay to attend events in future (all but one said "no" or "yes, if under £5"). Attendees were also asked to specify if they identified as LGBTQ+ (5 answered "yes"; 2 "no" and 1 did not answer) and asked to self-describe their gender (1 female; 1 fluid; 4 male; 2 did not answer).

We are grateful to City Gate Exeter for providing us with free hire of their quiet, accessible, private downstairs room.