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IWD 2020: Women in the School of Education, Communication & Society

To celebrate International Women's Day 2020, we spoke to women about their work and studies at the School of Education, Communication and Society, (ECS) which has been at the forefront of teacher education and education research for over 40 years.

Onyinye Udokporo

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Onyinye Udokporo is a postgraduate student in the School. She is studying a masters in Education, Policy and Society.

Tell us a bit about your studies and any extra-curricular activities you take part in…

I did my undergraduate studies at King’s and I’m now doing my masters in Education, Policy and Society. I absolutely love my degree and I’m getting really stuck into the reading and writing of essays. Whilst at King’s I have gotten involved in a wide range of activities. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the King’s College London Think Tank. I am now a part of the King’s College London Alumni Advisory Group (London). Alongside my studies I have been running a business, Enrich Learning. It’s an education hub and my masters degree programme has helped me immensely.

What is the biggest challenge facing your generation of women and the generation behind you?

Social media has made it difficult for women to embrace being authentic. I worry that women of my generation and the generation behind me may forget what it means to be themselves. There is so much pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty standards. I want all women to know that there is nothing more special than being proud of who they are. I really hope that women learn that it is great to be different.

If you could have dinner with one woman, from history or the present day, who would it be and why?

This is such a difficult question! I would love to dine with a large group of women. One person that I would love to dine with is Maya Angelou. My favourite poem is written by her...Phenomenal Woman. It’s so beautifully written and I have always wanted to know her inspiration for it. I think writers are some of the most incredible people in the world because they help the rest of us escape our reality for short periods. It can be so calming. I imagine dinner with Maya to be an utterly uplifting experience.

What is your favourite place at King’s and why?

I love to study in the Virginia Woolf Building. It is often quiet and very clean. Most importantly it has microwaves and that’s important. It is quite far removed from the big campus buildings which means you can hide away and get lots of work done.

Do you have anything else to add?

My message to every woman is that they should never doubt their ability to be great. If we as women do not believe in ourselves then no one will believe in us. We must strive to bounce back from setbacks and rise above challenges. Determination is the key to success.

Angela Casey

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Angela Casey is the Technical Manager at the School.

Tell us a bit about your role and your day-to-day work...

I started my current role in January 2014 after 28 years working in a medical faculty environment at the University of Bristol as a Faculty Technical Manager. My role here at King’s is very different from that of working in a medical environment. Here in ECS we train postgraduate students to become science teachers, for this reason, the focus of my work is managing the three science laboratories, where teaching methods rather than the delivery of large volume of practical classes is the key driver. This change of emphasis brought an interesting and new dynamic to my vast technical expertise making me realise that even after 28 years, new ideas can be embed and new methods learned.

My day-to-day responsibilities are very varied. In addition to my laboratory management responsibilities, I have delegated responsibility for health and safety management within the school. I liaise with Estate services on a regular basis almost daily and work alongside IT to resolve the many issues that can often occur. I lead on behalf of the school for refurbishment work ether laboratory or office liaising with Estates to help deliver projects on time and within budget. I take ownership of the many ad hoc projects that are requested of the School by both King's central support teams and the Faculty. I consider my role to have a main focus on problem solving across a vast range of different functions.

Have you faced any barriers as a woman to getting to where you are now?

I am very happy to answer no to this question. Throughout my career, I have been encouraged and supported to broaden and develop my skills, knowledge and experience while given the time and resources needed to do so. Here in ECS, I am fortunate to work with some wonderful people. We operate as a collegiate community where everyone looks out for each other and are prepared to support and help each other when required. I have found this to be a refreshing change from previous experiences and consider it to be a function of working in an education rather than a medical environment. The downside of course is that the need for technical staff is less and thus the understanding of what the technical mind can offer is less well embedded in a social science setting.

How has King’s changed in the time you have been here?

In line with the sector, King’s has been required to streamline operations as the economy continues to change and evolve. This has never been so important as in the last 10 years. I have seen many changes take place in my time at King’s. These changes are aimed at further improving the education that our graduates receive such that they can join an even more well-educated, creative and globally-minded workforce. Universities like King’s are in the futures business – we have a great track record of developing the talented people, ideas, evidence and technology that can help make this country a better place and King’s must continue to change as external influencing factors change.

What is your favourite place on campus?

This has to be the external and internal of the Bush House building. Its magnificence, grandeur and indeed history can only leave people in awe. While climbing the vast staircases I often get the sense of how conducive to learning this environment really is. It reminds me of how fortunate I am to be a member of the King’s College London community.

Dr Francesca Meloni

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Dr Francesca Meloni is a Lecturer in Social Justice. She teaches on the BA Social Sciences and the MA International Child Studies.

Tell us a bit about your research and day-to-day work…

I do research on migration and young people, especially in contexts of social exclusion. I am interested in the relationships between migration, age, race, and policy, and in the impact of legal status on the experiences of belonging and access to social services of young people.

Do you think there is a lack of women in your area of research or academia in general?

In the last few decades, there have been more and more women in social sciences. But women are still not heard and recognised in the same way men are – they have lower salaries and it is more difficult and slower for women to get promotion. Another issue if the under-representation of BAME academics, and women in particular.

If you could have dinner with one woman, from history or the present day, who would it be and why?

Hanna Arendt. I sometimes turn to her when I look for inspiration. Her reflections on totalitarian states and refugees are very relevant today, for questions around racism, migration and increasing xenophobia. Having fled Nazi Germany as a Jewish exile, she intimately knew about these issues.

What is your favourite place at on campus and why?

Having a stroll along the Thames can definitely brighten up my day.

Jessy Lu

Jessy Lu on the Millennium Bridge

Jessy Lu is a postgraduate student on the MA Education in Arts and Cultural Settings.

Tell us a bit about your studies and any extra-curricular activities you take part in…

I believe in “work hard play hard”, but so far, I don’t think I have balanced it well as I play too hard! I mean London is a such an incredible place that I sometimes “hate” to be here because its ample cultural resources are “annoyingly” distractive! There are various academic activities happening in both the School and university. I very much like the MA seminar series which are given by academics of different backgrounds, sharing their up-to-date research projects.

Looking more specifically at the MA programme I study, I’m very happy that I chose it because it is jointly run by King’s and the Southbank Centre, both being top education and cultural institutions. For students like me who have relatively more professional experience, this programme creates a precious opportunity for me to challenge my vision and understanding about creative education, to reflect on my approaches and methodologies and to look at possibilities to make changes in my work.

What makes you proud to study at King’s?

When I decided to study in the UK, I was very clear what I wanted to do. I wanted to understand the theories and emerging practices of how education is applied in an interdisciplinary and non-schooling context. I wanted to do it in a renowned university because such universities have top quality resources which I think is crucial for a one-year MA programme. I was on a business trip to London last February, so I visited the School and met with Dr Anwar Tlili, the programme director. My first impression of King’s was that I could feel that the dynamics of the faculty and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. It was this first impression which reassured me that King’s was my number one choice.

This one-year experience at King’s is becoming an indispensable part of my life journey, that I will always happy to share with others.

Who has inspired you in your life or studies and why?

My parents are definitely the very top source of inspiration in my life. It's not that they are professionally very successful, but the very special and precious qualities that I can always see and feel in my parents inspire and back me up every day.

Children are another inspiration in my life. I’m not a mother but I have engaged with the children education business for seven years. I love being with children although it can be both physically and intellectually challenging. But that’s what makes it so rewarding.

I’m also hugely lucky to have met three extremely important people in my career. Professor Han Dajian – my first boss and an internationally renowned academic in the area of bridge engineering. Alice Lau – the international board member of Lions Club. Christopher MacLehose – a publisher in Britain who has devoted his life to bringing to readers the best literature around the world.

What is your favourite place at King’s and why?

The Maughan Library. To me, it is like a pure land of knowledge. Perhaps it is also because there is a statue of Mr Confucius outside the library. I like Waterloo Campus the most, of course because it is where my School is based! Also, it is because Waterloo Campus is part of the Southbank which is one of the best cultural hubs in London.

Dr Heather King

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Dr Heather King is a Reader in Science Education and leads on some of the modules for the MA in STEM Education.

Tell us a bit about your research and day to day work…

My work involves examining the ways in which educators can foster learners’ engagement with science across many contexts including schools, museums, the natural environment and non-formal spaces such as maker-spaces.

For the Primary Science Capital Project, I work closely with colleagues at UCL, and with primary school teachers in London, Devon and the Isle of Wight.  We are currently exploring and testing ways of supporting science teaching at the primary level which encourage more children from more diverse backgrounds feel confident participating in science.

For COMnPLAY – an EU-funded project – we are involved in researching the design and facilitation of making/coding activities in maker-spaces and museums. The project also involves leading professional development sessions for maker space practitioners especially on aspects of social inclusion and equitable facilitation.

As well as research, I have various teaching commitments. This term I am leading two new modules for the MA in STEM Education course, and supervise quite a few MA and PhD students.

What would your advice be to young women thinking about a career in STEM?

My advice would be the same for a young person of any gender thinking about any career. Ask teachers, or friends, or friends’ parents/carers if they can put you in touch with someone already working in the field. Ask honest questions about the things you care about (including salary, hours, place of work, options for travel, and so on). Explore as many potential jobs and career choices as you can. Work hard to get your qualifications, but remember that being personable and enthusiastic can also help you to get that initial foot in the door.

What makes you proud to work at King’s?

I honestly feel privileged to work with some really lovely people who also happen to be world famous! When I meet colleagues from Europe or the USA, they’re always very impressed when I say I’m in science education at King’s.

What is your favourite place on at King’s and why?

I have two places. The canteen in the Franklin Wilkins Building which does a pretty good (and very cheap) lunch. And secondly, our new makerspace which opened this term in the School. This is small but perfectly formed space for teaching, learning and research, and a has a very different feel to normal teaching rooms. Come take a look!

 

In this story

Angela Casey

Angela Casey

Technical Manager

Francesca Meloni

Francesca Meloni

Lecturer in Social Justice

Heather King

Heather King

Reader in Science Education


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