International Women's Day 2021


International Womens Day


The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 was ‘Gender Equality in Education’, and was marked on the 8 March in two distinct but linked ways:

Individuals and teams from across the university partnership presented short workshops, and presentations exploring the ways in which they approach or promote gender equality within their own subject area, teaching or research practice, in supporting or leading the development of learning and teaching, or in the design of the curriculum.  Dr Natalie Jester, Lecturer at Gloucester University, presented a keynote exploring the urgency of designing a balanced curriculum and the ways that we can, as individuals and institutions do more to promote gender balance and equality in the curriculum.

Following the event, and capturing the topics presented, an e-book will authored by the event presenters and published in May.  The e-book will be shared at the university and beyond on the ways in which the University of Highlands and Islands promotes and supports gender equality and balance in education and will be an open publication and free to download.



Monday 8 March 2021


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

09:30-09:45 Thoughts from Professor Todd Walker: Principal and Vice-Chancellor UHI

Opening the Programme: Ash Morgan, HISA Vice President (Further Education) UHI



keynote speaker: Dr Natalie Jester, University of Gloucestershire

Recording | Slides




Promoting Autistic Women in Science: Jay van der Reijden, Postgraduate Student, Archaeology Institute, Orkney College

Recording | Slides

11:50 - 12:20

Libguide to support gender studies and reading lists gender balance: Elizabeth McHugh, Electronic Resources Manager UHI


12:20 - 13:00


13:00 - 13:45

Pecha Kucha Presentations:

  • Women in engineering: Lois Gray, Academic Lead Developer (Engineering) UHI Slides
  • RAF and STEM collaboration: Blair Watson, STEM Programme Coordinator UHI Slides
  • Distancing the (privileged) male from the machine: supporting gender balance and representation through acts of allyship in academic processes and practices: Professor Keith Smyth, Professor of Pedagogy and Head of the Learning and Teaching Academy UHI
  • Highland Women in STEM photograph project: Chloe Rodgers, PhD student | Genetics and Immunology Research Group UHI Slides
  • Women’s Networks in Education: Alex Walker, Professional Development and Recognition Lead, UHI Slides


13:45 - 14:00 PechaKucha Questions
14:00 - 14:30

The impact of feminist art practice and theory on pedagogical practices from a personal and institutional perspective: Roxane Permar, Reader in Fine Art, Research Fellow and Programme Leader, Centre for Island Creativity, Shetland College UHI


14:30 - 14:45 Break
14:45 - 15:10

Implementing the Aurora Leadership Development Programme in the University of the Highlands and Islands: Insights and implications: Ann Tilbury, Organisational Learning and Development Lead UHI

Recording | Slides

15:15 - 15:55

Leadership and influence to promote gender equality in education: 2020/21 UHI Advance HE Aurora Leadership Programme participants


15:55 - 16:00

Thanks and close: Alex Walker, Professional Development and Recognition Lead UHI

Keynote Speaker and Publications content

Keynote Speaker and Publications

Keynote Speaker and Publications

Keynote Speaker

Dr Natalie Jester

Natalie Jester

We will welcome Dr Natalie Jester as our Keynote on the 8 March. Natalie Jester is a lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire. Her research is located within critical security studies, examining the relationship between identity and security in digital spaces. Her research always informs her teaching and her teaching also informs her research, publishing in the field of education, too. Certain themes cross both strands of research, especially gender, the internet, and the concept of the everyday. She firmly contends that teaching - rewarding as it is in itself - also makes you a better researcher.

The curriculum comprises a wide variety of elements from what topics we ask students to read, to who we ask students read, to how we assess this knowledge. In her keynote, Dr Natalie Jester argues that curricula are sometimes presented as obvious; that they are seen simply to fall onto the page, fully formed. This process does not occur by accident, however, and it is in this process of curriculum design that some knowledges – and some knowers – are seen to be more important than others. Following other lines of marginalisation within wider society, these omissions are often gendered and racialised, with those who are women and/or people of colour left out, and subjects important to those groups considered less worthy of space in curricula. Borrowing from studies on women’s political representation, Dr Jester sets out the justification and urgency of a representative curriculum at tertiary education level. It is in response to these invisibilities and omissions that various groups such as Women Also Know Stuff and Why is My Curriculum White have been established, undertaking a form of “curriculum activism”, and Dr Jester also explores the ways in which these operate, pushing for the representation that is so sorely needed.  


Jester, N. (2018) 'Representation within higher education curricula: contextualising and advocating for feminist digital activism', Teaching in Higher Education, 23 (5): 606-618.

For further information on publications please view Dr Jester's webpage.

Session Outlines and eBook Chapters content

Session Outlines and eBook Chapters

Session Outlines and eBook Chapters

Alex Walker, Professional Development and Recognition Lead, The Learning and Teaching Academy, UHI: Women’s Networks in Education

Women’s Networks in Tertiary Education offer the opportunity for women to come together to discuss the challenges and barriers for colleagues who identify as women working in education, to hear from inspirational women, take part in professional development, and lobby for change. Pulling on current literature this chapter will explore the role of women’s networks in Tertiary and Higher Education and will then focus on the UHI Women’s Network, what it has achieved, lessons learned and plans for the future. Furthermore, the presentation and book chapter will explore the implications of COVID-19 on women’s wellbeing and the potential for women’s networks to provide peer support and sharing of experiences at a time of isolation and challenges of home and work balance. The UHI Women’s Network meets three-four times an academic year and the members are colleagues who identify as women across professional services, research, teaching, and leadership roles.

Ann Tilbury, Organisational Learning and Development Lead UHI: Implementing the Aurora Leadership Development Programme in the University of the Highlands and Islands: Insights and implications

The impetus of the University’s engagement with the Advance HE Aurora Leadership Development Programme for women arose, in part, from the University’s first International Women’s Day in 2018. Aurora seeks to support women and their institutions to fulfill their leadership potential through thought-provoking activities, collaborative problem-solving activities, and motivating stories supported by inspirational women speakers. By March 2021, twenty-one women from the university will have undertaken the programme. The presentation and book chapter will share the findings of the year one evaluation and the year two research study on the impact of the programme for participants. It will highlight the benefits including the “ ’intangible asset themes’: a sense of belonging and building effective relationships” (Robertson, Cleaver & Smart (2019) and will propose opportunities to extend the impact of the programme to promote greater gender equality in the university.

Blair Watson, STEM Programme Coordinator UHI: RAF and STEM collaboration

The STEM Hub at UHI is committed to increasing gender diversity with regards to STEM uptake by students in the Highlands and Islands area. With a new contract with the RAF allowing us to develop a series of workshops surrounding engineering and aerospace, we have been given a fantastic opportunity to work towards combatting the worrying ‘leak in the pipeline’ with regards to recruiting women into engineering. This presentation and book chapter will therefore focus upon the issues that the engineering sector faces with regards to recruiting women, the issues that this lack of diversity poses to academia, and our work in redressing this issue. With research showing that positive female role models are an effective strategy in removing these perceived barriers, allowing greater uptake of traditionally ‘male’ occupied spaces by women in academia, this talk will conclude by offering inspiration to the audience in the form of women from our very own Highlands and Islands, who have made exemplary contributions to the field of STEM throughout history.

Chloe Rodgers, PhD student | Genetics and Immunology Research Group UHI: Highland Women in STEM photograph project

Over the past year I have met and photographed nearly 30 women who work in the Highlands in a STEM career, many of them work at UHI. I also asked participants to answer a few questions from a large list, and so I have a lovely collection of stories/opinions from everyone that I will share in my presentation and book chapter. Some of the photographs are of friends, family, or people who I work closely with in the Genetics & Immunology department at UHI. Other women I had never met before. Lots of the women have grown up in the Highlands; many from elsewhere in Scotland; and others were from countries including Italy, India, France etc. Through meeting these women, I have learnt about jobs and research that I never knew existed in the Highlands even though I grew up here. I know that most people will not realise this either. Events over the past few years have made me realise how important it is to make sure people recognise their self-worth and appreciate how lucky I have been in my life so far with the great women I have encountered and also grown up with (I have 5 sisters!). The aim of my ‘Highland Women in STEM’ photograph series is to show off the variety of great work being done in the Highlands by women, hopefully influencing other women to pursue a career in STEM! A little bit about me: I am a final year PhD student at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) researching immunology & melanoma. I was selected to be one of Equate Scotland’s STEM champions- in this role we are to encourage women into STEM.

Elizabeth McHugh, Electronic Resources Manager UHI: Libguide to support gender studies and reading lists gender balance

The purpose of this presentation and book chapter is to highlight the resources available to students and staff in the area(s) of gender equality and gender studies. This presentation will highlight how, with a little investigation on their part, staff and students can see that the library services are providing resources that support this topic. A Libguide (e.g. ) will be developed prior to the event and will be debuted at the event. The presenter will also show users via a ‘live search’, briefly, ways of searching the library content and terminology they can use to find appropriate materials on this topic. It is hoped that this talk will encourage discussion between academic staff and librarians about including material in reading lists that is more gender-balanced and relates more specifically to the area of gender studies.

Jay van der Reijden: Promoting Autistic Women in Science– presentation and eBook

As a female autistic diagnosed at 47, already having achieved two Master’s of Science degrees, I am concerned not only with the promotion of women in science, but now particularly for autistic women in science. External autistic characteristics in women are significantly different from those in men, yet nigh all datasets of identifiable outward expressions are derived only from males. The most significant difference between the sexs, of relevance here, is the well-acknowledged far higher abilities of autistic women in “masking“. For instance, when asked “how are you?” these women have learned not to actually answer the question, but rather to provide the expected reply of “I am fine”. These masking abilities, however, do a disservice for women to be identified as autistic and for them to receive help in areas in which they need support. This is further crippled because successful masking includes not appearing to be difficult or different, that is, to allow it to be seen that they have needs in the first place. The need to mask is then also reinforced when socially-insecure autistic women present novel ideas which are then instantaneously dismissed, an unfortunately normal reaction to novel information. Given the amazing advancements that high-functioning autistics have added to science, it is shocking no society exists to support this group. In particular because as this a group that will continue to expand as autism is more frequently recognised and diagnosed in both female children and adults. The above discussed disabling insecurity of social interactions inherently implicates that there are multiple wonderful understandings out there in the minds of female autistics who wish to be involved in science. Two forms of encouraging these women to forward their concepts could both begin by the formation of their own society. Such an association could, first, engender a shared space of unity and understanding. Second, the society itself could assist this group by promoting tools for neurotypicals to understand, engage and support autistic women in science.

Katie Masheter, Curriculum development and employer engagement officer UHI: Leadership and influence to promote gender equality in education: 2020/21 UHI Advance HE Aurora Leadership Programme participants

The University’s Aurora Community would set the scene with a 5-7min video presentation from the 2020/21 Advance HE Aurora Leadership Programme participants about their experience and key takeaways from the development opportunity. This would be followed by an interactive workshop, drawing on the experiences of UHI Aurorans that demonstrates the ‘one year/ two year on’ progression from the wider University Aurora Community. Facilitated by UHI Aurorans, the workshop would be focussed on discussions around what leadership is and how to take forward gender equality in the participants spheres of influence and leadership practice within UHI specifically. It would also tease out what the Aurorans and participants in the workshop actually mean when they talk about leadership, drawing on the research that Ann Tilbury is working on and the Aurorans involvement in focus group, interview and panel activities, which drew attention to the very different perceptions/ understandings of leadership.

Keith Smyth, Professor of Pedagogy and Head of the Learning and Teaching Academy UHI: Distancing the (privileged) male from the machine: supporting gender balance and representation through acts of allyship in academic processes and practices

My presentation and book chapter will begin by briefly exploring the historical developments that have privileged the male voice in academia, beginning with the invention of the printing press and how that was harnessed by male dominated organisations in controlling the mass distribution of theory, knowledge and belief systems that were almost exclusively produced by males who were themselves already in privileged positions. I would link this forward to the dominance and favouring of male voices within the publication of academic and scientific research through issues that include homogeneity in learned societies and journal boards, and phenomena such as citation bias. I would then explore contemporary movements and campaigns (including ‘Why is my curriculum white?’ and ‘Decolonising the curriculum’) which are seeking to challenge the dominance of white, male western scholars within the curriculum, in addition to recent developments in challenging and advancing gender balance and amplifying women’s voices within the publishing of academic research. From here I would seek to identify the changes we could make within established curriculum design and development processes to ensure gender balance within the subject and reading material of taught programmes of study, and offer a perspective on the acts of male allyship that could support gender balance, and the amplification of the voices of women colleagues, in curriculum design, authoring and presenting scholarship and research, and in leading learning and teaching related work and initiatives.

Lois Gray, Academic Lead Developer (Engineering) UHI: Women in engineering

Throughout my two decades of working in industry, as an electronics engineer, I have always been in a gender minority, often as the sole female in a project team. Fortunately, this has not affected my career progression, which has been entirely through unbiased, meritocratic decisions. I have faced relatively little explicit discrimination and I do not consider myself a feminist. However, there is undoubtedly a patriarchy in the engineering discipline, particularly in the UK, and this has provoked my ideological stance to tend towards liberal feminism, whilst rejecting the concept that women need to be more like men to succeed in this field. I have encountered implicit discrimination, which is sadly still prevalent throughout the engineering spectra. I have found that, usually unintentionally, a predominantly male workforce most values masculine traits: assertiveness, objective rationality, technical capability and direct problem solving. So, women engineers either learn to emphasise their masculinity, or become disillusioned with their role. With the advent of Industry 4.0 and the consequent disruption predicted, many positivist aspects of an engineer’s job will be automated. It is likely that feminine, interpretivist attributes may prevail. Universities can do little to overcome early years stereotyping, nor can they easily adjust male to female workplace ratios, but what they can do is incorporate and encourage development of feminine skills - affability and interpersonal skills, the ability to multi-task, innovate and create, and to be socially and ethically aware – inspiring celebration of the female engineer’s complexity and embracing their epistemological diversity. In my opinion, as an academic leader, it is imperative that dissemination of these perceived feminine attributes are not only embedded in courses but actively promoted as desirable skills. Care must be taken, however, to avoid adopting a feminist stance, which I have found can alienate both sexes. This paper identifies and explains some of the methods I have used in my BEng programmes and modules, to do this, although it does not detail evaluation of the success, or otherwise, of these approaches. These include awarding ergonomic as well as functional design in courseworks, collaborative project-based learning, peer review and mentoring, alternative and inclusive assessment, gender balanced resources, Industry 4.0 skills development workshops, guest lectures from role models, creativity and innovation awards, etc.

Roxane Permar, Reader in Fine Art, Research Fellow and Programme Leader, Centre for Island Creativity, Shetland College UHI: The impact of feminist art practice and theory on pedagogical practices from a personal and institutional perspective

In this presentation and book chapter I will examine the impact of feminist art practice and theory on pedagogical practices from a personal and institutional perspective, using the programme, MA Art and Social Practice, as a case study. It is currently in its fourth year, and while it has grown exponentially, it has attracted a huge majority of women students. I will consider this programme from a feminist perspective. It is led and taught by an all-female team of lecturers. Feminist principles underpin the programme, promoting non-hierarchical, open and inclusive learning and teaching environments through teamwork and student-centred learning, generating a sense of shared ownership and responsibility for teaching and learning. Diversity and plurality of practice characterise the curriculum content. Networking and collaboration are fundamental to our practices, and collaborative and relational teaching characterizes our approach to working with students. I believe feminists work for change, to make a difference to our lives. Thus core feminist values contribute to improve our teaching and learning environments, foster innovative teaching practices, inclusive curricula and progressive course development. Analyses of social and political structures encourage our students and colleagues to better understand institutional structures that impact on learning, teaching and professional careers. Students thus become better equipped to understand their position as professional practitioners and empowered to shape a sustainable career whether in education or art and design. The MA Art and Social Practice is delivered entirely virtually, offering access to a wide range of students who have not previously been able to study at MA level for a variety of reasons and providing opportunities for education among diverse learning communities, such as those that are geographically remote or those who cannot leave home to study, such as those with childcare responsibilities or chronic illness.

Sarah Morton, Project Manager – Digital and STEM, West Highland College UHI: Formal and informal learning in the rural context from a female perspective

The presentation and book chapter specifically explores the complexities and uniqueness of both formal and informal learning in the rural context from a female perspective. Over time we have seen increasing disparity of availability and access to a broad range of learning in sciences, engineering, and health disciplines. Now, living in a very extreme ‘post-code lottery’ effect, for women living in rural locations learning continues to be pinched, with learners impacted by decisions that typically have lesser effect on those learners based in more urban locations. Learning inequality occurs for a wide range of reasons, including having to travel (sometimes hundreds of miles and overnight) to access resources, learners leaving remote, rural, and island locations to study in the cities – never to return, and generally a lack of access to resources. For females, these issues are exacerbated since many have caring responsibilities or are the primary homemaker. However, there is also an abundance of good practice to share, particularly in terms of supporting learners remotely and through online / distance learning. Which of course influences dynamic and development amongst local communities and sociological paradigms. Provision of and access to high-quality learning can lead to positive influence on economies and indeed enthusiasm of future learners. The overall intention of the chapter would be to highlight the challenges, celebrate successes, explore and define good practice, challenge perceptions and put right the understanding of just how complex it is to deliver learning in the rural context. Making suggestions for how rural learning should be delivered to be locally relevant and have maximum social, economic, and equal impact – and perhaps most importantly, balance the gender architecture. Taking a largely qualitative and ethnographic approach, the author will not only debate the complexities, but provide detailed, good-practice case studies from their own practice, research, and experience. The chapter will culminate with a summary section that draws on learning from all case studies to support other practitioners to deliver formal and informal learning in the rural context. The learning from the chapter is not specific to any one country – it could be applied globally, and will therefore be of interest to the international community.

As well as the colleagues listed above who are presenting on the 8 March, the following colleagues will be contributing to the ebook:

Ash Morgan: Women of colour are taking over the student movement

Our proposal is very simple. I have been in contact with Larissa Kennedy, the current president of NUS UK, and have confirmed that she would love to be interviewed for this book on the fact that, including herself, the last 3 presidents of NUS UK have been women of colour and how this could indicate that the UK student movement is changing and moving in a new direction despite it coming up to its 100th birthday in 2022.I would interview Larissa or maybe ask her to write a small piece on why this can only be a good thing that such an old organisation is diversifying to such an extent and we would explore how this can be expanded to academia in general, which remains rather non-diverse.

Emma Sinclair: Gender Dominance in Childhood Practice

Certain disciplines have traditionally reflected gender dominance. Early Learning and Childcare is a field that is largely dominated by a 97% female workforce. This pattern exists across the UK but is further compounded in the rural regions of the Highlands and Islands. Despite the positive promotion designed to encourage females into STEM subjects, the progress in attracting men into early years practice has significantly lagged behind. Denmark currently has 23% of men working in the early years. Much of this practice is focused on outdoor play and learning which may be one explanation attracting men into the sector. However, there still exists gender flexibility within their childcare approach, meaning that both and men and women participate in exactly the same tasks including cooking, intimate care routines and storytelling, which have traditionally been recognised as female skills and preferences. If we value equality and diversity, working in early learning and childcare should be focused on practitioners’ skills and qualities and not gender.

As a result of the imbalance of gender across varying sectors, in 2016 The Scottish funding Council (SFC) developed the Gender Action Plan (SFC 2016) to address the gender imbalance across subject levels at Universities and Colleges. UHI undertook research to consider how they could develop a programme to encourage men into the childcare sector. Through varying methodology, it was found there were key aspects that were deterring men from joining the sector. Some of these factors included intimidation of joining a female dominated workforce, fear of ridicule from family and friends and other negative connotations unfortunately associated with men in childcare. We considered how as a University we could start to address some of these stigmas and concerns and decided to create a male only Children and Men in Practice (CHAMP) course. We considered whether a male only class was giving equality to all, however it was agreed a gender specific introductory class would allow confidence within a female dominated sector to be built, encouraged and to discuss the differing stigmas associated with the course. This course has had ongoing success, with last year seeing a 75% rise in our male intake (all with successful outcomes) on our wider childcare courses.

Gender stereotyping begins early, it could be said even before a child is born. The trend in gender reveal parties demonstrate this, parents imprinting gender stereotypes from clothing to toys and decor onto their unborn child. It is therefore extremely important that we challenge these stereotypes as early as possible. With more and more children entering early learning it is vital that they see as true(er) representation of society as possible during their time at nursery, a time when they create the most neural connection in their life. If their experience has little or no representation of half of the population it is not too difficult to imagine the consequence. CHAMP course provides an opportunity to enrich the early learning experience. Children are seeing men in a caring role and, in general, seeing that they are not limited in ambition no matter what they are doing, work and play. Men and Women equal and capable in care and play.

Fiona Skinner: Addressing the gender imbalance in Applied Life Studies Subject Network

This contribution to the e-book would outline a range of initiatives to address the gender imbalance in programmes within the Applied Life Studies Subject Network at UHI with a view to attracting more men into these programmes. The initiatives were: 1. Men into care FE programme, taught to a male-only cohort, designed to address their needs and to encourage progression into HE level care programmes. 2. Targeted publicity and admissions advice for men to encourage applications to care programmes. 3. Initaives within Perth College UHI to attract men into Beauty and Complementary Therapy programmes 4. ‘Minority Men’: University-wide initiative to recruit male student Champions in subject areas historically dominated by women. The chapter will outline the details of each these initiatives, reflect on the challenges and lessons learned, and reflect on any impacts to date.

2020/21 UHI Advance HE Aurora Leadership Programme participants content

2020/21 UHI Advance HE Aurora Leadership Programme participants

2020/21 UHI Advance HE Aurora Leadership Programme participants

Aurora participants 2019_20

Anna Wendy Stevenson

Anna-Wendy Stevenson

Anna-Wendy is deeply committed to the university as the key institution delivering world leading innovative and inclusive education to students locally, nationally and internationally whilst investing in local communities. These values are embodied in her work both as an award-winning programme leader of the flagship networked BA Applied music degree, and as a senior lecturer based in the Outer Hebrides from where she manages a large cohort of distributed students and teaching staff across the UK. Passionate about the transformational potential music has to help people find their voices and promote individual and community well-being, she has developed a range of community and professional industry partnerships, providing opportunities for student, graduate professional, local, national and international engagement.  She is an advocate for the work of the LTA in supporting staff development through mentoring for the ALPINE and Aurora schemes. Anna-Wendy completed in the Aurora Womens Leadership programme 2018/19.

Arlene Ditchfield

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. She has also been a local university and colleges union (UCU) rep for the past 7 years. Arlene was one of the 2019-20 UHI Aurorans and takes an active role in promoting the aurora programme and inclusive leadership within SAMS-UHI.

Hannah Grist

Hannah Grist

Hannah is a Knowledge Exchange and Communications Manager based at the Scottish Association for Marine Science. She mainly works as part of a project called Blue-Action, connecting climate scientists who study the Arctic with policy-makers, industry and communities. She has a background in science communication, marine ecology and citizen science, and can mainly be found boring people with stories of scientific discoveries.

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

Lindsay Nicol

Lindsay Nicol is Programme Leader for the one-year Professional Graduate Diploma in Primary Education in University of the Highlands and Islands. Lindsay loves this role as it involves collaborating with like-minded professional teaching colleagues across the University and facilitating student engagement on a very experiential and transformative learning journey. The University has a 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. Lindsay has been a Primary Teacher herself for 10 years, in and around raising two now adult daughters, she 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 her completing a Masters in Educational Leadership and taking part in the Aurora programme, both of which have helped in managing the extensive change response needed in the past year. Covid-19 has temporarily suspended most of her favourite past-times, including being a Street Pastor in Elgin, but she is still able to enjoy regular beach walks and virtual conversations with loved ones, including her 1 year old granddaughter.

Katie Masheter

Katie Masheter

Katie Masheter is the Curriculum Development Employer Engagement Officer (CDEEO) for the Creative Industries subject network at Higher Education (HE) level across the university’s 13 campuses. She’s passionate about enhancing collaboration between employers, key industry contacts and teaching teams. Katie has a background is 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. In 2016, she moved back to the Highlands and joined Planit Scotland where she delivered creative marketing solutions for a wide range of businesses from SMEs to global brands. Katie became part of the UHI team in May 2019 on an ESIF funded project as CDEEO.

Presenter biographies content

Presenter biographies

Presenter biographies

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 open to colleagues from across the university partnership with a shared passion for gender equality. The network provides 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 includes leading on professional development and recognition initiatives, including ALPINE (Accredited Learning, Professional Development and Innovation in Education) and the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFs) award and Collaborative Award in Teaching Excellence (CATE).

Alex also coordinators the University Mentoring Scheme which offers a range of mentoring opportunities for university colleagues through four distinct strands. As well as coordinating the scheme Alex is the lead for the Professional Recognition strand.

Alex is interested in professional development and mentoring in geographically distributed contexts that utilises technology, and ensuring this is pedagogically driven and inclusive.

#ChooseToChallenge means for you: Accountability, Strength, Comradery

Ann Tilbury, Organisational Learning and Development Lead UHI

Ann Tilbury

Ann is a member of the University’s Learning and Teaching Academy and leads the development and provision of a range of enhancement opportunities for colleagues, predominantly in learning and teaching and educational leadership. Her work includes the implementation of the Advance HE Aurora Leadership Development Programme for women, the Learning and teaching enhancement strand of the mentoring scheme and the university graduate attributes. Her professional practice is anchored across the fields of academic development, organisational learning and development and leadership. She has a MSc in leadership and management, a PG Cert in Teaching and Learning in Tertiary Education and is a Chartered Member of the CIPD, a Senior Fellow of the HEA and Fellow of SEDA.

In 3 words let us know what #ChooseToChallenge means for you: Compassion, Courage, Cooperation

Ash Morgan

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!

 In 3 words let us know what #ChooseToChallenge means for you: Challenge status quo

Blair Watson

Blair Watson

Blair Watson (He/Him) is a member of the University of the Highlands and Islands STEM team, along with Dr. Evelyn Gray, and Dawne Bloodworth, working to support schools in the Highlands area, and to raise awareness of the importance of STEM throughout the region. With a background in science communication and engagement, Blair is currently working on a project funded by the RAF, designed to increase school pupil engagement with engineering, with an emphasis on inspiring girls to pursue engineering, with engineering still a highly gender biased area.

In 3 words let us know what #ChooseToChallenge means for you: Empowerment; Action; Strength

Chloe Rodgers

Chloe Rodgers

Chloe is a final year PhD student at the University of the Highlands & Islands. Her research is focussed on the role of the humoral immune response to melanoma. Prior to studying in Inverness, she received her Honours degree in Biochemistry and Pharmacology in Glasgow at Strathclyde University.

In her role as an EQUATE STEM champion, Chloe is keen to promote science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) as a career path for women. With an aim to show people the many inspiring women who are currently working in a STEM career in the Scottish Highlands, she has embarked on a photography project that reimagines the typical representations of people who work in these occupations.

Elizabeth McHugh

Elizabeth McHugh

With nearly 25 years experience of working in academic libraries Elizabeth has been the Electronic Resources Manager for the University since 2005. Prior to that she worked as a librarian in Shetland College and in a college in Leicester. Her undergraduate degree (from the University of Edinburgh) is in ‘Classics and Medieval History and she has a Masters in Information and Library Management from the University of Northumbria. During her time at the University Elizabeth has represented the University on committees at a Scottish and national UK level, including SHEDL and JISC Collections. Her professional interests include eCollections procurement and availability, along with open access publishing.

In 3 words let us know what #ChooseToChallenge means for you: Investigate, communicate, participate

Jay van der Reijden

Jay van der Reijden

Jay van der Reijden is a postgraduate student at the Orkney College, Archaeology Institute. Her research expertise includes human bones and teeth, as a global specialist in teeth modified for cultural reasons, and the architectural construction techniques of Orcadian Neolithic passage graves. Her latest publication presented novel evidence for construction choices within the Neolithic passage grave, Maeshowe. Jay turned to archaeology in 2012 with the loss of her previous career as a stone sculptor due to injury. She was recognized and diagnosed autistic in April 2016, probably the most dramatic change within her varied past. The explanation of autism radically positively changed her view of herself, mainly via self-confidence, and the means by which she gets through daily life. Her diagnosis has led to investigating the means of identification and advocating for adult-diagnosed autistic minorities.

In 3 words let us know what #ChooseToChallenge means for you: Equality, Advocation, Audacious

Keith Smyth, Professor of Pedagogy and Head of the Learning and Teaching Academy UHI

Keith Smyth

Keith Smyth is Professor of Pedagogy and Head of the Learning and Teaching Academy at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Through his work alongside colleagues in the Learning and Teaching Academy, Keith leads on, supports or contributes to a range of learning and teaching enhancement initiatives and professional development opportunities offered across the university. In this context Keith has overall responsibility for the university’s Learning and Teaching Enhancement Strategy, and for the development of educational research. Keith’s own research interests relate to co-creative pedagogies and curriculum models, digital and open education, educational strategy, and academic development. There is strong focus on inclusion and widening participation embedded in much of this work. Keith has also been involved in a number of equality and diversity initiatives and organisations, including a period as Vice and Acting Chair of the charity LEAD (Linking Education And Disability) Scotland. Keith blogs (sporadically) at 3E Education and can be found as @smythkrs on Twitter.

In 3 words let us know what #ChooseToChallenge means for you: Allyship, Activism, Anti-hierarchy

Lois Gray, Academic Lead Developer (Engineering) UHI: Women in engineering

Lois Gray

After twenty years as an Electronics Designer, working on award winning projects for major defence and aeronautical applications, such as Nimrod, Sea-King, Gatwick and Munich airports, Lois joined North Highland College as an engineering lecturer, where she progressed to leading the University of the Highlands and Islands’ successful BEng(Hons) Electrical and Electronics Engineering programme. Latterly she became Curriculum Leader for the Electrical, Control and Instrumentation curriculum at the Engineering, Technology and Energy Centre. Lois is now an Academic Lead Developer for the University of the Highlands and Islands, but still lectures part time, and has remained in touch with industry, to inform her teaching and research. As a Chartered Engineer, and an active member of the Womens Engineering Society (WES), Lois champions equality in engineering, and is a keen proponent of #choosetochallenge because she believes discrimination puts many women off engineering careers, where their alternative viewpoints and feminine qualities can be invaluable.

Roxane Permar

 Roxanne Permar

Roxane Permar, Reader in Fine Art, is a Research Fellow and Programme Leader for the MA Art and Social Practice, based in the Centre for Island Creativity, Shetland College UHI. She is a Senior Fellow in the Higher Education Academy and has been working in universities in England and Scotland since the mid-1980s, and Shetland College UHI since 2001.

The MA Art and Social Practice is the first postgraduate programme in the field of socially engaged art to be delivered entirely virtually and brings together her research and pedagogical practices, most recently in the research project, Repositioning Practice, funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  Her on-going collaboration with artist Susan Timmins is currently focused on the Cold War period in Unst, and she is part of the team leading the arts based research project, Home & Belonging, with care-experienced young people and Dr. Siún Carden (Centre for Island Creativity) and Sian Wild (Who Cares? Scotland).

In 3 words let us know what #ChooseToChallenge means for you: Visibility, Empowerment, Inclusiveness