Training the next generation of female wheat research leaders

Women in Wheat Training

Eleven early-career researchers from the John Innes Centre took part in a female leadership training course as part of our Rosalind Franklin Women in Wheat Champions programme. 

This career development programme aims to address the severe lack of female representation in senior academic roles in the wheat research field. While we still see a relatively even gender ratio at early career stages, the proportion of research leaders is heavily male dominated. One way we are addressing this at the John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory is to provide training to build confidence and better support for female researchers to achieve their career goals in the wheat research field. 

The participants spent three days, in late January, at the JIC Dorothea de Winton field station, working with expert trainers from hfp consulting to further develop their leadership skills. The training course took the researchers through a number of training modules that covered motivational drivers, time management, active listening, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution among many others.  

Participant Isabel Faci-Gomez described the training as “a great cocktail of tools and self-reflection time to look at ourselves and make the most of ourselves!”. 

Francesca Minter another training course participant noted: “I felt like we were given the tools to be effective but kind and empathetic researchers, supportive peers and mentors”.  

Another participant noted how the experience: “would help me build up my confidence and motivation to continue my career in research”. 

The participants all found the training exceptionally insightful, and as Francesca mentioned she felt: “privileged to have been able to receive this training”. Another participant who will soon be establishing her own research lab was Azahara C. Martin who felt the training, “will help me a lot in my future role as a Principal Investigator”! 

Lead of the Rosalind Franklin Women in Wheat Champions programme Diane Saunders commented: “It continues to be a huge privilege to work with our exceptionally talented early-career female researchers in this programme. I am so pleased we could provide this opportunity to empower them with new tools and techniques that they can apply along their career development journeys, hopefully translating to readdressing the current gender disparity in senior positions”. 

Director of the John Innes Centre Graham Moore noted: “At the John Innes Centre we are extremely proud to work with such exceptional early-career researchers and by providing this support we hope many of these amazing female researchers will continue their careers in the wheat research field”. 

 The Rosalind Franklin Women in Wheat Champions programme is supported by funding predominantly from the Royal Society, with additional support from the BBSRC. 




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