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Three NTU technicians lead the field in pioneering women in technical leadership programme

More than 170 female-identifying technicians nationwide have completed the first Herschel Programme which has been dubbed as “life-changing”.

Herschel Women in Technical Leadership Programme awards ceremony
The Herschel Women in Technical Leadership Programme awards ceremony
Over 170 female-identifying technicians from all over the UK took part

The Herschel Programme for women in technical leadership is a six-month national career development opportunity initiated by MI Talent to specifically tackle the workforce imbalance and equality gap within the UK’s technical community.

The programme is split into 4 modules, each facilitated by a specialist in that area:

You as a Leader – focuses on different leadership styles, team dynamics, coaching and role modelling with some self-reflection on how YOU lead.

Confidence and Empowerment – focuses on developing your self-confidence to enable you to empower your team members.

Influencing and negotiating – focuses on the difficult conversations leaders sometimes have to have and how to influence the conversation to optimise getting the outcome you need, whether it is a behaviour change or acquiring resources.

Context and Culture – focuses on how to promote and nurture a culture that embraces diversity within the workplace.

Three Nottingham Trent University (NTU) technicians took part in the inaugural programme: Angie Ward, Technical Team Leader for the Labs within the School of Animal Rural and Environmental Sciences, based at Brackenhurst; Charlotte Baker, Senior Technician in Chemistry; and Kelly Whittingham, Senior Technician for Analytical Chemistry – both within the School of Science and Technology, based at Clifton Campus.

The Herschel Programme advertisement
An advertisement for the Herschel Programme
The programme supports development and advances and elevates opportunities to female-identifying technicians across a range of vocations

We spoke to Angie (AW), Charlotte (CB) and Kelly (KW) about their experiences taking part in the programme and how it has had an impact on their own development as female leaders:

What have you gained from the programme?

AW: “I gained a lot of confidence which came from being able to develop my leadership skills in a 'safe' environment, with like-minded individuals who were also learning these techniques.”

CB: “I gained an incredible insight into leadership, learning tools to handle my new leadership role and how to continue to develop my skills in a constructive way to benefit my future career.

“To learn directly from other technical women in leadership roles and from their direct experiences gave an all-encompassing guide for how to navigate my future.”

KW: I gained a lot from participating in the programme: I picked up some great tools and tips to increase my confidence during difficult conversations, when trying to implement changes in the workplace and for overcoming the imposter phenomenon.

“The solidarity I felt from speaking with other technicians with similar experiences was very validating.”

What did you most enjoy about taking part in the programme?

AW: “I really enjoyed the content of the 'YOU as a Leader' module which involved discussion around leadership style and team dynamics.”

CB: “I enjoyed creating a positive network of like-minded people who are in similar situations, or who have experienced similar things.

“It was incredible to experience and witness the level of support these women can offer, it was truly a wonderful experience and I look forward to this support network continuing.”

KW: “I really enjoyed the celebration event at the end of the programme. There were some very inspiring speakers at the event and great networking opportunities. It was a very positive and empowering day.”

A panel of Women in Technical Leadership roles at the Herschel Programme awards
Panel Q&A of women in technical leadership roles at the awards ceremony
The programme featured the opportunity to learn directly from women in technical leadership roles

Why did you want to be part of the programme initially?

AW: “I wanted to develop my assertiveness and confidence, but as the programme unfolded, I found so many other benefits including developing a countrywide network of technical colleagues in a variety of fields.”

CB: “I had recently been appointed a new post of Senior Technician within the Chemistry teaching team at NTU and wanted to fully immerse myself into my new role, and part of that was having the desire to continue developing my leadership skills and this programme offered this opportunity.”

KW: I wanted to gain more confidence at work, and pick up some leadership skills to help with my career progression. I ended up gaining so much more than that, so I am very grateful that I was accepted onto the programme.”

How does it feel to be part of a pioneering programme and why would you recommend it to other female-identifying technicians?

AW: “I would recommend the Herschel programme to other female-identifying technicians because I feel that leadership skills are hugely important, regardless of whether you have the word 'Leader' in your job role or not. The skills learnt on this programme would serve everyone well who works as part of a team.”

CB: “The women and the atmosphere on the programme are incredible, everyone is wholly supportive, and I have gained so much knowledge and skills from these women and their experiences, and I felt extremely grateful to have the opportunity to experience it.

“I enjoyed the entire experience and wish it would’ve lasted longer, but it is important to remember that the end of the programme is not the end of my opportunities for learning or development.”

KW: “It feels inspiring and empowering to have been part of the first cohort of the Herschel Programme. I have no doubt that it will be very successful and I hope to remain involved with the network.

“I would recommend the programme because working in a male-dominated environment can feel intimidating at times, but this programme helped me realise I am not alone in feeling this way, and I deserve to be in my current role, pursuing a leadership position.”

The Herschel Programme for Women in Technical Leadership will be launched again for 2024, sometime in September 2023.

Three NTU technicians lead the field in pioneering women in technical leadership programme

Published on 28 October 2022
  • Subject area: Sciences including sport sciences
  • Category: Staff; School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences; School of Science and Technology

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