Representatives at the SGDP
Diversity & Inclusion at The SGDP Centre
The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience has been granted the Athena SWAN Silver Award, a charter that promotes gender equality and the careers of women in science.
The IoPPN has begun the process of extending any gender-related initiatives to activities that will also benefit black and minority ethnic (BME) staff and students. A Self-Assessment Team (SAT; http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/athena-swan/self-assessment-team.aspx) focuses now more broadly on Diversity & Inclusion (D&I), taking an intersectional approach.
The D&I SAT places great emphasis on ensuring that its membership reflects diversity in its broadest sense, with a representative from each academic Department. Its purpose it to discuss, implement, promote and monitor objectives and strategies aimed at improving the working environment for all staff and students. Eight key focus areas including pay, recruitment & promotion, workload, ethnicity and LGBT, are targeted by individual Working Groups (WG).
Sylvane Desrivières, PhD
SGDP Diversity & Inclusion lead
IoPPN D&I SAT ‘pay, recruitment & promotion’ WG
I am a Reader in Genetics whose career revolved around understanding how genes control biological functions in organisms and systems of increasing complexity, from individual cells and unicellular organisms to organs, such as the mammary gland, and finally to the human brain. In the early 2000s, advances in the fields of neuroimaging had reached the stage where measuring changes of the brain in vivo had become a reality, and I took this exceptional opportunity and challenge to move my career from the genetic bases of cancer to investigate the impact of genes on the human brain. This was associated with both a geographical and cultural change (from Germany to the SGDP Centre) and a drastic change in discipline. The excellent and very supportive environment at the SGDP and the IoPPN have been invaluable in enabling this transition.
A few role models have inspired me throughout my career and helped me overcome challenges. First, a female biology teacher, who in addition to transmitting her passion for biology, made me aware that pursuing a career while raising a family could be very fulfilling. Another is Gottfried (Jeff) Schatz, one of the discoverers of mitochondrial DNA who, in addition to being an inspiring figure in the field of mitochondrial biogenesis, was an outstanding leader in his abilities to manage and stimulate both researchers and students and an unmatched role model. Discussing work/life balance and parenthood with him, he shared his experience of quality time being far more important than quantity. I also continue to take inspiration from his advice that with enough passion, courage, and patience one can make contributions of lasting impact.
This has taught me how important role models and mentorship can be in promoting the career of academics, especially at early stages. I now combine my role as SGPD D&I lead and activities within the IoPPN D&I SAT ‘pay, recruitment & promotion’ WG and the King's Diversity Community Steering Group & BME Staff Network to apply my experience to promote gender and race equality within the IoPPN and beyond.
SGDP administrative lead
At the SGDP, we recognise that everyone is different and we value the unique differences that each of our colleagues and students bring to the centre every day. We seek to build an inclusive environment that takes into account the diversity of modern Britain and the global implications of our research. This is reflected in our staff and students, in our research and our active promotion of Diversity & Inclusion, including:
- Participation to BME Academic networks to collect feedback and provide informal support to ethnic minority groups across the College
- The promotion of visible role models: a consistent theme in feedback from these meetings is the need for visible, positive role models. In 2016 we featured black and ethnic minority role models in a pilot Open Doors project http://www.kcl.ac.uk/hr/diversity/opendoors/ioppn.aspx, a visual display aimed at inspiring both existing and future staff and students.
- Mentoring young female academics, in particular BME academics (http://www.kcl.ac.uk/hr/diversity/race/B-MEntor.aspx
Professor Jonna Kuntsi
SGDP Diversity & Inclusion Deputy