International Women's Day



International Women's Day provides the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of colleagues who identify as women across the university partnership in teaching, research, professional services and student roles.  The day also provides the opportunity to discuss what the university is doing to support gender equality and what can be done going forward, as well as exploring the international theme for 2020 #EachforEqual.



09:30-09:40 Welcome: Alex Walker, Professional Development and Recognition Lead, The Learning and Teaching Academy, UHI
09:40-10:10 Opening the Programme: Sarah Burton, Board Chair, Inverness College UHI Board of Management
10:10-11:00 Keynote Speaker: Caroline Gillwood, Head of Programmes, Stonewall Scotland

Inspiration/Celebration Session: Donna Heddle, Director of Institute for Northern Studies and Head of Cultural Heritage, Institute for Northern Studies UHI

12:00-12:50 Aurora Leadership Programme workshop
13:40 - 14:30 Keynote Speaker: Rachel Watters, NUS National Women’s Officer

Inspiration/Celebration Session: Celebrating Sharon Hutchison, presented by Antonia Pritchard


Introducing the University of the Highlands and Islands' EQUATE STEM Champions

15:50 -16:30 Panel discussion with programme presenters exploring the theme #EachforEqual 
16:30 - 16:40 Close, Sarah Burton, Board Chair, Inverness College UHI Board of Management
Keynote speakers content

Keynote speakers

Keynote speakers

Opening the programme: Sarah Burton, Board Chair, Inverness College UHI Board of Management

portrait photo of sarah burton

Sarah is Chair of the Board of Management at Inverness College UHI, appointed in January 2020 following three years' experience as a Board Member and Vice Chair with a focus on learning, teaching and research. In her substantive role Sarah works in the third sector as Regional Development Manager for national education charity, Lead Scotland. Working alongside and supporting disabled people and carers, this is a role intersecting community learning, further and higher education, and active citizenship. Before that she managed social enterprise activities for Cantraybridge College, an independent organisation specialising in creating learning and development opportunities for young people with learning disabilities. With a background in financial planning, quality, asset and risk management, she’s also held several voluntary and mentoring roles, developing and supporting people and organisations to realise their full potential.

Keynote: Caroline Gillwood, Head of Programmes, Stonewall Scotland

Caroline Gillwood

After nearly 30 years working in London in a broad range of leadership roles across Health and Social Care organisations Caroline moved back to Scotland in 2016 to join the UK’s largest LGBT charity Stonewall. Caroline is the Head of Programmes at Stonewall Scotland leading on a range of programmes to support education establishments, workplaces and communities to improve LGBT inclusion. Working directly with senior business leaders across Scotland empowering them to understand the importance of LGBT inclusion, intersectionality and how they can stand up as LGBT allies or role models.

LGBT women face particular challenges within our education establishments and workplaces, Caroline will bring together both research and lived experience to discuss these challenges and explore how far we have come and ask the question, is it enough?

Caroline lives with her wife and two cats in Portobello, Edinburgh. In her spare time she is a keen potter and loves to walk the coastal paths of Scotland gathering inspiration from the undulating seas and ever changing landscapes.

Keynote: Rachel Watters, NUS Women's Officer

Rachel Watters, NUS Women's Officer

Rachel Watters is the full time NUS Women’s Officer and a former Women’s Officer of NUS-USI, the Northern Ireland student movement. In her role, Rachel works with student activists, students’ union officers and sector experts to deliver systemic change on issues relevant to women students. This involves fighting for reproductive justice, removing barriers to support and justice for student survivors of sexual violence and harassment, and organising against the criminalisation, racial profiling and precarity experienced by marginalised women as a result of state policy. Rachel's culture and politics writing has been published in Dazed, Prospect and The Tangerine.

Rachel will deliver a talk on her path into activism and the student movement, feminist leadership, and fighting for systemic change within institutions. 

Professor Donna Heddle, Director of the Institute for Northern Studies, UHI

A portrait photo of professor Donna Heddle

Professor Donna Heddle is Director of the award winning UHI Institute for Northern Studies. Her research interests are Scottish and Northern Isles cultural history, Renaissance language and literature, and cultural tourism. She has led and is currently leading several national and international research and training projects, including a cultural tourism project in Vanuatu and Fiji. She was awarded a Personal Chair by UHI in June 2013 and became Chair of the UHI Tourism Group in August 2017.

Donna will trace the very varied path of her career up till now and explain how she became Director of the UHI Institute for Northern Studies. She will also discuss some aspects of her research into women and society with a particular emphasis on the Norse.

EQUATE STEM Champions content



The University and EQUATE Scotland are working with eight UHI- EQUATE STEM Champions and four UHI Staff Champions to build a network of support and expertise across the Highland region, and integrate the University of the Highlands and Islands students into a nationwide network.Champions cover seven Academic Partners, studying at a range of levels, across a range of subjects.

The team’s goal is to build bridges between university campuses and subject networks, increasing opportunities for students to interact, engage, learn from and inspire each other, working together across the partnership to foster a confident community.

Emma Gunn, Mechanical Engineering, North Highland College UHI

Emma Gunn

I am a Mechanical Engineering student at the North Highland College UHI. I completed my Mechanical Design Modern Apprenticeship with Nuvia Ltd in Summer 2019 and am now doing my degree full-time whilst working full-time for Nuvia.Throughout the year I attend numerous STEM events, trying to encourage others to pursue a STEM career path. These events are so important, and are such an effective method of showing students first-hand that STEM subjects are for both men and women equally.

I really look forward to working with EQUATE to take this one step further.

Fun fact: I have an HGV Class 1 Lorry License

Bibiana Aldrick, Applied Science, Moray College UHI

Bibiana Aldrick

I am an Applied Science degree student at Moray College UHI currently in my 2nd year. I have always loved science since I was a child. As I studied further, I found my passion in biotechnology, microbiology and human biology. I feel very lucky to have found something I am so passionate about and after graduating I’d love to get a job in biotechnology or immunology studying viruses and how they affect different cells, and hopefully at some point in my career working towards finding cures. Before this amazing opportunity to work with EQUATE opened up I had never heard of them before: I would love to spread the word so others who have also not heard can get involved. I’d love to inspire other women too, so we can all work towards balancing the scales of equality within STEM.

Fun fact: I competed in motor sport from a young age and when I left school I actually qualified as a mechanic before I moved onto science

Bryony Beck, MSc Rural Sustainable Development, Lews Castle College UHI

Bryony Beck

I am an online student studying Rural Sustainable Development MSc at UHI. Previously I studied Geography BSc at Inverness College UHl, where I learnt a lot about sustainability, which became my favourite part of Geography. I also realised that I wanted to pursue a career in relation to rural sustainable development. After graduating I would like to either work as a community or development officer or go into local planning.

Gender equality is one of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 so I am very interested in working with EQUATE to recognise women in science roles and work towards achieving the goal in Scotland. I am currently an associate trainer with Sparqs, training class reps across Scotland and a Member Pioneer at the Coop, working with local stores and connecting them with their communities.

Fun fact:  I have climbed a glacier!

Ruth Carey, Marine Science, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), UHI

Ruth Carey

Marine Science, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), UHI

I am a third-year student studying Marine Science at SAMS, a campus in Oban which is joined to the University of the Highlands and Islands. I absolutely love my degree and love that I’m not doing just one science but instead I’m learning about Chemistry, biology, physics, geology, statistics and even a bit of social science! I am so excited to work with EQUATE and hope to help women within the STEM community.

Fun Fact: I’ve visited every train station in Scotland!

Kirstie Millar, BSc Computing,Perth College UHI

Kirstie Millar

I am in my third year of BSc Computing. My favourite aspect of the course is databases, but I love programming too! I am one of very few women on my course, and I would like to be involved in encouraging more women to pursue careers in STEM.

I chose computing as a career because I love solving problems and constantly learning new things. I have an inspiring female teacher at high school to thank for making every class interesting and rewarding and for igniting my love for computing.

I applied to be a STEM champion because I want to make sure every young girl can have access to an encouraging woman in STEM, the same way I did.

Fun fact:  I was once Reserve Scottish Under 16s Champion in épée fencing!

Ramona Petrig, Marine Science, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), UHI

Ramona Petrig

I am a 2nd year undergraduate student of Marine Science. With a background in psychology, studying at SAMS now enables me to pursue my passion for the ocean. The course involves a lot of laboratory and field work. As a former snowboard athlete, I have always circulated in a male-dominated environment. It is very important to me to overcome bias and encourage women (and men) to chase their dreams. Initially, I engaged as a voluntary coach on female snowboard and skateboard workshops. Now, being active in science education, I am very excited to be part of the EQUATE programme: supporting peers and inspiring each other to pursue our passions in STEM. Looking ahead, I am considering postgraduate courses in Chemical or Physical Oceanography and will continue conducting internships learning about marine processes and applied technologies such as autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) or gliders.

Fun fact:  I love doing yoga and am a qualified Vinyasa Yoga teacher.

Gael Hillyard, PDA Forestry, Inverness College UHI

Gael Hillyard

I am taking a distance learning Professional Development Award at the Scottish School of Forestry which means I can fit my course around the needs of my young daughter and my business. I plan to continue studying in this field. Many women I have known work in areas such as helicopter aviation and some have met obstacles in their education and careers; however, they have become not only exceptional pilots and engineers, but equally great leaders. I am also inspired by women in my own family who, along with their female colleagues, have risen to professional heights that may have been considered unattainable not so long ago. As a STEM Champion this is a message I feel is of great importance: others have done it, so can you!

Fun fact: my work is in environmentally themed art; I am currently illustrating 100 weeds and grasses so they look like jewels!

Chloe Rodgers, PhD Genetics and Immunology, University of the Highlands and Islands

Chloe Rodgers

I am a third year PhD student at the University of the Highlands & Islands. My research is focussed on the role of the immune response to melanoma. Being a researcher is great as you get freedom and independence to work on a project, but at the same time you meet and collaborate with different people from all over the world. I hope to continue doing research once I complete my PhD. I am looking forward to working with EQUATE Scotland to learn about the barriers women may come across when pursuing a STEM career, but also to celebrate all the great things women do in STEM already. Girl Power!

Fun fact: I am a city leader of @sofarinverness. We organise secret gigs in Inverness. These also happen in cities all over the world!⁠

University Aurorans 2020 content

University Aurorans 2020

University Aurorans 2020

Aurora participants 2019_20

Arlene Ditchfield, Senior research associate and deputy programme leader for Marine Science BSc, SAMS

Photo of Arlene Ditchfield

Arlene K. Ditchfield is a senior postdoctoral researcher in the field of microbial biogeochemistry at SAMS. Her research interests focus on understanding how microbial communities cycle carbon, nitrogen and sulphur and the use of seaweed as a biofuel.

In addition, Arlene is also Deputy Programme leader for the BSc Marine science degree at SAMS. This role involve teaching and supporting students, module leaders and the programme leader in delivering the degree programme. Arlene has also been a local university and colleges union (UCU) rep for the past 6 years.

Hannah Grist, Knowledge Exchange and communications manager, SAMS

Hannah Grist

Hannah works for SAMS Research Services in climate change communications, trying to bridge gaps between cutting-edge scientific results and the communities that need them to adapt. She is an ecologist with a love of coastal ecosystems and seabirds, who turned to science communication after her postdoc when she realised she preferred talking about science to others more than doing it. Hannah has experience in outdoor learning, community engagement, citizen science and event development, but her career highlight so far is dancing dressed as a giant blue tit on Buchanan Street in Glasgow.

Lindsay Nicol, Programme Leader PGDE Primary (English Medium), Moray College UHI

Lindsay Nicol

I am the Programme Leader for the one-year Professional Graduate Diploma in Primary Education in UHI, a role I love, as it involves collaborating with like-minded professional teaching colleagues across UHI and individual mentoring of students through a very experiential and transformative learning journey in partner Local Authority schools. We have a proven track record of our graduates making a genuine contribution to the Scottish teaching profession in schools across the rural regions served by UHI and I am proud of the passionate, critically enquiring and highly aspirational teachers they have become as PGDE alumni. I am still in touch with many of them and they have begun to be mentors to current students too. Having been a Primary Teacher myself for 10 years, in and around raising two now adult daughters, I joined Moray College UHI in 2007, initially to teach in Early Education and Childcare, before moving into teaching and now leadership within UHI Teacher Education provision. This led to me completing a Masters in Educational Leadership over three years through part-time distance study, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The arrival of my beautiful grand-daughter in October 2019 made me willingly embrace the generational shift into grandparenthood and has reawakened all the creativity and wonder of enjoying and facilitating childhood development. I have always been involved in voluntary activities in my local community over the years, including active membership of a thriving church in Elgin, and am proud and humbled in equal measure to now be part of the Elgin Street Pastor Team. We have a ‘listening, caring and helping’ presence for anyone who becomes vulnerable out and about in Elgin on a Saturday night and it is a privilege to connect with others in this way. I can also regularly be found walking on the beach, enjoying coffee anywhere with freshly baked scones, spending time with friends and family or completely absorbed in a good book.

Katie Masheter, Curriculum Development Employer Engagement

Photo of Katie Masheter

Katie Masheter started her Aurora Leadership journey in 2019. Katie is the Curriculum Development and Employer Engagement Officer for the UHI Creative Industries subject network. She is passionate about enhancing collaboration between employers, key industry contacts and teaching teams. Katie has a background in marketing, communications and events. She graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2014 with a first class BA (HONS) degree in Business Studies with Marketing. Katie’s career started in the world of chocolate with Thorntons graduate scheme in Derbyshire and she latterly worked on creative campaigns for Ferrero. Katie moved back to the Highlands in 2016 and joined Planit Scotland where she delivered creative marketing solutions for a wide range of businesses from SMEs to global brands.

Rosalind Bryce

Organising committee content

Organising committee

Organising committee

Alex Walker, Professional Development and Recognition Lead, The Learning and Teaching Academy UHI

Alex Walker

Alex coordinates the university Women’s Network. The Network is made up of colleagues from across the university partnership with a shared passion for gender equality. The purpose of the network is to provide a forum to discuss gender equality in education and research, and how we can all champion gender equality across the university partnership. The collaborative Network also provides a space to hear and learn from inspirational internal and external speakers. Membership is open to all university colleagues who identify as women.

Alex's main responsibilities with the LTA include coordinating ALPINE (Accredited Learning, Professional Development and Innovation in Education) and supporting applicants throughout the ALPINE application process, as well as organising, facilitating and coordinating events through which promote and support good practice in research, and learning and teaching across the university.

Alex also coordinators the University Mentoring Scheme which offers a range of mentoring opportunities for university colleagues through three distinct strands, comprising Research, Learning and Teaching Enhancement and ALPINE. As well as coordinating the scheme Alex is the lead for the ALPINE strand.

Contact Alex via or 01463 279486.

Amanda MacMillan

Amanda MacMillan

To me #eachforequal starts with the self, belief in being equal to others, knowing that you have the same right to express yourself as to those around you. At different times in my career I have wrestled with this, particularly during my first roles working in a then male dominated industry (pleased to say this has changed since the 90’s!) Having found organisational and colleagues support through events like this hugely beneficial, I was delighted to be asked to be part of the team this year.

Ann Tilbury, Academic Skills Developer, University of the Highlands and Islands

Ann Tilbury

The university is currently funding five colleagues on the 2019/20 AdvanceHE Aurora Programme. The programme extends the range of professional development opportunities supported by the Learning and Teaching Academy and is a fundamental part of the University’s Athena Swan action plan. Aimed at those in academic and professional roles who aspire to take on leadership roles, and who identify as women, the programme combines development days focusing on power and politics’, ‘core leadership skills’, and ‘adaptive leadership skills’; which are supported by self-directed study; networking and mentoring. Ann has led the selection process and the support, including mentoring support, available to the Aurorans.

With the Learning and Teaching Academy, Ann has a remit to take forward learning and teaching professional development. This includes leading on the learning and teaching enhancement strand of the mentoring scheme; taking forward the engagement with academic partner colleges to support learning and teaching enhancement and the implementation of the graduate attributes.

Contact Ann via or 01463 279353

Ash Morgan, HISA Vice President (Further Education), UHI

Ash Morgan

My name is Ash Morgan and I am passionate about all things equality. I currently work for the Highlands and Islands Student Association in the role of the Vice President of Further Education and in my role have put a lot of time and effort into the advancement of people in minority groups, such as trans people and people of colour. I am very excited for Women’s Day and to see how the celebrations at the University of Highlands and Islands will play out!

Mary Doherty, Senior Lecturer and Head of PGR Development, UHI

A photo of Mary Doherty

Advance HE’s Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. In May 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women. UHI was successful in achieving a Bronze Institutional award in 2016 and is currently working towards both renewal of our accreditation and the submission of individual department awards. Our work in Athena SWAN is led by the institutional self-assessment team, which is drawn from colleagues across the University and is chaired by Dr Mary Doherty.

Stuart Hall, Equality and Diversity Advisor, UHI

Stuart Hall

“Many of us wonder when the world will offer us a fairer and more equal society. We need to recognise that when we talk of the world and society, we mean ourselves and each other: as individuals and friends we can each contribute to change, even if just in a small way. #EachforEqual”

Through his role as the university Equality and Diversity Advisor, Stuart helps to address under-representation of minority groups, and to overcome particular challenges that we face as a result of who we are. This involves looking at support the University can provide, and helping to develop strategies which ensure that all groups and individuals feel equally well supported across the UHI partnership.

Many of us face challenges that are specific to us, or to a group to which we belong. It is Stuart’s job to advise the University on how to overcome or minimise these challenges. To do so effectively Stuart relies on feedback from those who feel that they are well supported, and equally from those who feel that they are not.

Stuart would love the opportunity to discuss your thoughts and feelings as to how we can work together to make everyone feel more included. Stuart have a visual impairment, so please make it obvious that you are addressing him.

If you don't want to speak in person, please feel free to email Stuart on