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Women in Science

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Video clip: Charlotte has found that mentors from inside and outside her discipline can be helpful at different times.

So there's been, so [Name] would be the person I'd mention most who's in my department here, but she's in many ways very senior to me. But she's somebody who - not in terms of research, because our research has nothing to do with each other. I'm not even entirely sure I would understand what she does do. But she's easy to talk to about kind of why you might do something, or why you might not, and how the university works, or whether it's worth trying to do something. Or just - I guess part of it is also just being allowed to sound off. You need people who you trust a lot, to be able to say what you really think sometimes, which, isn't necessarily complimentary about either other people or the organisation or something.

But you're allowed to say that out loud and then work out what you can do with that, as it goes on. But I think you need kind of both types of people. You need people who are in your research field who you can ask the questions of. So I once sent [Name] an email, when I was quite early on as an academic here, and I'd written a paper with a student, so. Which I thought was quite good. Not brilliant, but perfectly sensible and quite good. And we'd sent it to a couple of journals, and it hadn't even got reviewed. It had got bounced back. And I wrote to [Name] and I actually attached the paper and I said, "[Name], I'm really sorry but I don't know what to do, as in this is not a situation I have come across before - I think this is really sensible. I think it does something, you know, that's okay. Am I being, am I missing something that's really obvious, that everyone else out there know that I don't know?"

And he gave me one of the best replies which wasn't - he didn't tell me what to do. He said, "No that's fine. Yeah. Send it to wherever you think you should send it. Just keep going, this happens to everyone." Yeah? So, instead of kind of patronising me by telling me that, you know, I should improve this, change this - and there were things that needed improving in it.

But it was more just, "No, this is normal. Go with normal. Just keep going, don't worry about it." And those kinds of things really help because it's very lonely being an academic, in many ways. You don't - it's a kind of all on you situation a lot of the time.