The Women’s Classical Committee UK is organising an event aimed at mid-career scholars, to be held on Thursday 7th January 2021 on Zoom. We anticipate that the event will run from 10am to 1pm; should national lockdowns or other circumstances intervene, we will liaise with registered attendees to establish the most convenient alternative timing on that day.
The Women’s Classical Committee UK run a mid-career event annually to help colleagues in open-ended employment discuss the issues and challenges that face academics, particularly women, at mid-career. Topics to be discussed may include decisions about whether and when to move institutions, questions around disciplinarity/interdisciplinarity and collaboration in research, expectations about international mobility and balancing this with family/caring duties, managing institutional expectations (which may be gendered) around types and levels of administrative service, taking on leadership positions, ways of supporting precarious colleagues, and strategies to tackle unconscious bias in the workplace. We anticipate that any discussion will inevitably include consideration of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all these issues. Those who register their intent to attend will be invited to fill in an online questionnaire, the results of which will inform the precise choice of topics for discussion sessions. We envisage that the day’s discussions will help to set priorities for resource development and future campaigns by the Women’s Classical Committee UK.
The WCC UK recognises that the term ‘mid-career’ is open to a range of interpretations, but also that different challenges face women in classics in different situations and career stages. This event is aimed primarily at women who self-define as having reached mid-career; markers of this may include being eight or more years after the award of their PhD, holding an open-ended contract, and having an established publication profile. If the event is oversubscribed then we will give priority to women in this situation, but we welcome applications to register from anyone of any gender who feels they would benefit from attending.
The Women’s Classical Committee is committed to making our events as inclusive as possible, and recognises that the financial and practical challenges of childcare often impede people from participating in workshops and conferences. We welcome the virtual attendance of children at this event.
The WCC UK is pleased to announce a series of webinars featuring classics editors from book presses and journals, who will demystify the publication process and answer questions live. This is a free pre-lunch hour webinar from 11am to noon (GMT) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (We will confer with speakers about recording their talks). This series has been organised by Manu Dal Borgo and Cressida Ryan, the WCC UK’s mentoring officers, in response to our members’ requests for more support around publishing, and to provide some support which might address concerns around women submitting less work for publication in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the appointment of Dr. Christine Plastow as Treasurer of the WCC UK, we are now looking for a Mentoring Officer to take over our mentoring programme. The Mentoring Officer is a liaison position; office holders volunteer for a renewable two year term.
Taking up the role of the WCC UK’s Mentoring Officer involves administrating the Committee’s three mentoring schemes:
Short term Mentoring Scheme
The Short-term Mentoring Scheme offers focused support around a specific issue for a fixed period. We maintain a database of mentors who are able to offer guidance on particular topics. The scheme runs year round. Administrating the scheme involves:
assigning mentees to an appropriate mentor within two weeks of application
confirming with mentors that they wish to remain on the rota on an annual basis
putting out a call for new mentors periodically as mentors cycle off the rota
Co-mentoring Triad Scheme
The Co-mentoring Triad Scheme offers reciprocal support over the course of one academic year. The scheme runs annually. Administrating the scheme involves:
putting out a call for applicants to the scheme in late August/September
grouping triads and putting them in touch with each other in September, and circulating guidance for the mentoring relationship
soliciting feedback from the participants in the following August
Take a Grad Student to Lunch Scheme
The ‘Take a Grad Student to Lunch’ Scheme offers focused, one-off support for MA and PhD students, and occurs annually at the Classical Association Conference. Administrating the scheme involves:
putting out a call for mentors and mentees 12 weeks before the CA Conference
matching mentors and mentees 6 weeks before the conference
soliciting feedback from participants after the conference
fielding mentoring queries throughout the year, particularly directing applicants towards the appropriate scheme
using participant feedback to develop and improve the schemes
preparing reports for the WCC UK Steering Committee
attending WCC UK Steering Committee meetings if available
The role is focused on email correspondence and maintaining (very small) databases and lists of participants, as well as keeping an eye on scheme deadlines. It would suit someone oriented towards detail who wants to feel they are doing something concrete to help the WCC UK community. If you have any questions about the role, please contact the outgoing mentoring officer, Christine Plastow, at christine.plastow at open.ac.uk.
We note that the the Research Excellence Framework 2021 has invited nominating bodies to make further nominations to REF sub-panels, and that a new deadline for making such nominations has now been set. We ask candidates who seek nomination to the REF Classics sub-panel by the Women’s Classical Committee UK to provide answers to the questions below (in brief bullet points) by Friday 31st July 2020, and to send them to the WCC UK’s Administrator, Liz Gloyn, at womensclassicalcommittee at gmail.com. The questions mirror those asked in the HEFCE nomination form, with the addition of Q6 which is specific to the WCC UK.
The sub-panel seek nominations in the following areas:
Subpanel member (practicing researcher) with expertise in ancient philosophy
Subpanel member (practicing researcher) with expertise in Language, Linguistics and Literature (with particular expertise in the early Aegean)
Impact assessor from the heritage sector with a focus on classical antiquity
Impact assessor from the museums sector with a focus on classical antiquity
A specialist advisor in the Ancient Near East: language & textual sources
A specialist advisor in Ancient (Pharaonic) Egypt: language & textual sources –
A specialist advisor in Modern Greek: history and culture
We will be making nomination decisions based on the published HEFCE criteria (captured in these questions), with the additional criterion that your nomination should further the WCC UK’s aims (for which see question 6). We will evaluate candidates of all genders according to the same criteria. We note that at present, of the 14 current members of sub-panel 29, 10 are women; we will be taking this gender imbalance and its implications for unequal distribution of the service workload into consideration in our nominations. The WCC UK will avoid nominating from institutions already represented on the sub-panel wherever possible.
1. Do you have previous REF panel experience? Give details.
2. What modern languages are you able to assess in?
3. Would you have any major conflicts of interest in regard to your current or former employment, substantial collaborations, family and friends, and, financial interests? See Annex D for further details.
4. What are your areas of expertise, including (if applicable) experience in wider use and benefits of research?
5. Outline which specific role you are nominating yourself for and provide evidence in support of your nomination (e.g. key achievements and academic appointments; esteem indicators such as editorial posts; experience of research management, commissioning, using or benefitting from research; experience of leading/managing/practising interdisciplinary research; experience of peer review, research quality standards, or of evaluating impact, benefits, or quality of research).
6. How will your appointment to the sub-panel help to advance WCC UK’s published aims? Our aims are:
Support women* in classics**
Promote feminist and gender-informed perspectives in classics
Raise the profile of the study of women in antiquity and classical reception
Advance equality and diversity in classics
* By ‘women’ we include all those who self-define as women, including (if they wish) those with complex gender identities which include ‘woman’, and those who experience oppression as women.
** By ‘classics’ we understand the study of the ancient Mediterranean world and its reception, including but not limited to scholarship by students and post-holders in academic departments of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology.
The WCC UK passed the following resolution at its April 2020 AGM. We will be sending a copy of the resolution to the relevant learned societies and other Classics organisations, and encourage members and supporters to keep in touch with us about what is happening at their institutions.A PDF copy of the resolution is available for download.
The Women’s Classical Committee UK notes the extraordinary impact of the Coronavirus crisis on the education sector, both the direct impact of the pandemic itself and the social and economic consequences of the response to it. In the short-term, during the current lockdown:
We note that disproportionate burdens have fallen upon those with significant caring responsibilities and those managing existing illnesses, and that the distribution of these burdens tends to be gendered; while some departments have acknowledged this, others continue to place unrealistic demands on academics working from home.
We call upon departments and institutions to be explicit in recognising the additional work and emotional labour (also often gendered) undertaken by so many academics at a time when all were facing intense disruption in their own lives.
We encourage departments to be mindful and realistic of the very different working conditions that staff and students will be under in terms of their access to technology, space and security.
We note the economic consequences of the shutdown and their disproportionate impact on the already precarious, the hourly-paid workers in higher education and those supporting their studies and/or their academic employment through part-time and hourly-paid work in other sectors. We note the likely consequences for employment in the sector and the probable reduction in opportunities for those already in precarious employment or hoping to enter the job market.
We also note the particular stress faced by those approaching the end of fixed-term studentships and fixed-term contracts at this time, as well as those who have recently been made redundant, and would urge institutions to explore the government’s Job Retention Scheme and all other available possibilities to extend those contracts.
We urge all Classics departments to find ways to support colleagues and students through the release of any discretionary funds for travel and research expenses that cannot now be spent as intended, as we have done with our own funds.
We encourage our members to advocate these policies within their own departments as far as possible, particularly those in permanent employment and senior management roles.
We commit to continuing to arrange events on-line, and when it becomes possible again, in-person, to enable our members at all levels of study and career to develop.
We urge all Classics organisations and learned societies to consider what steps they can take to support doctoral students and early-career scholars over the coming years, through funding schemes, affiliation and access to library and on-line resources.
We also urge all Classics departments and institutions to begin a realistic, transparent, consultative and humane process of contingency planning for the autumn 2020 teaching semester and beyond.
We thank those departments, organisations and individuals who have stepped forward to provide support to students and to staff.
Approved at the WCC UK 2020 AGM, held electronically via Zoom on Friday 24th April 2020.
For further queries or to share examples of best or worst practice, please contact us via womensclassicalcommittee at gmail.com.
The AGM will be held via Zoom: please register for the event on Eventbrite and you will be sent details of how to join the meeting.
Spotlight talks will be available on our YouTube channel from Tuesday 21st April – we will circulate a link to access the videos. Please watch these in advance of the AGM if possible, and leave questions or comments to begin the discussion! (You will need a Google/Gmail account in order to comment on videos).
10-10.30: Keynote: Judith Mossman, ‘Grass roots, Green shoots . . . is everything in the garden lovely?’ (live talk, to be recorded for later sharing on YouTube)
Abstract: This is a hard time for all minority subjects, and even for some we do not think of as such. Classics has the advantage of having had to fight for its survival for the best part of a hundred years – we are old hands. There are reasons for optimism in the growth of classical subjects in non-traditional institutions at primary, secondary and tertiary level, and in the continuing interest our subject, including new areas of its study, holds for the public. Complacency, however, would be fatal in the current climate. This talk will briefly survey some upsides – and some potential pitfalls, and invites further discussion on how to preserve and enhance the glory of the garden.
10.30-11: Keynote Q&A (questions to be submitted via the Zoom chat)
11-11.30: Discussions of spotlight talks
11.30-12: Breakout groups: * Carers * Early career researchers * Remote working and mental health
The Women’s Classical Committee UK has, like many organisations, transitioned to online meetings for the foreseeable future. This means thatfunds earmarked for travel bursaries for postgraduate and early career researchers, and event catering will not be spent as planned.
We propose to make this funding available as emergency grants to precarious members and colleagues. At the moment, we have a limited pot from which we can offer up to 10 emergency grants of up to £100 per applicant to UK-based applicants. We are aware that what we can offer is unlikely to match the needs arising from the crisis, but believe that this is the best way to disburse funds intended to support students and precarious colleagues.
We will prioritise unfunded and unsalaried applicants who have lost paid work (both academic and non-academic) on which they relied for living expenses as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, especially those who are falling through gaps in government schemes. Early-career researchers, WCC UK members and those who have contributed to our work will be given priority in this initial round of grants, but we encourage any classicist in need to apply, including those working in classics-related creative arts and performance.
We will aim to run a further round of this scheme in the year, targeted at those whose employment or funding has ceased at the end of the 2019/20 academic year.
To apply for this funding, please email carolatack at gmail.com by April 13th 2020 with the following information (although we hope to make some initial allocations at the end of this week):
Your current or most recent institutional affiliation or course (if you are a WCC UK member, we may well have this information already).
Brief details of your situation: please tell us something about your situation along the following lines (these notes are not exhaustive):
‘had departmental funding for MA fees, self-funding for living expenses, no income now from zero-hours coffee shop job at xxx, applied for universal credit/government support programme xxx’;
‘in final unfunded year of PhD and now no hourly-paid teaching work for final term of year’;
‘recent PhD graduate; working with theatre company but now all performances cancelled, laid off from paid work and hourly-paid teaching cancelled’.
Applications will be reviewed quickly, by a small team of WCC UK committee members; all details will be treated as confidential. Payments will be made by bank transfer to UK bank accounts. You are welcome to apply to this scheme as well as to that run by New Classicists, although we are likely to prioritise those not covered by that scheme (i.e. those who aren’t graduate students).
The Steering Committee has taken the decision to allow a short period of time for any final nominees to be put forward who wish to compete for the positions – nominations will be accepted until Tuesday 14th April 2020 and should be sent to womensclassicalcommittee at gmail.com. Should no more nominations emerge, the election will be considered uncontested.
In the circumstances of the current pandemic, it has become all too clear just how important our networks are, both within our families and our wider communities, personal and professional. It may feel like a strange time to share opportunities to join the WCC UK, particularly in a period where UK higher education has already been taking its toll on all of us with the stresses of precarity, unmanageable workloads, and rising stress levels. It often feels like nothing can be done to change things. However, the work of the WCC UK does make a difference, whether in getting like-minded people together, advocating for better policies, or leading the conversation in UK classics around equality issues. You don’t have to be in a senior academic position to take on a role, and our steering committee members have found being involved an empowering and helpful experience. We hope that our members and supporters will consider these opportunities for getting involved and for making UK Classics a better place for us all.
If you are interested in taking on any of these roles or would like to find out more, please drop us a line at womensclassicalcommittee at gmail.com!
Treasurer: this is one of the major roles on the steering committee and is held for a position of five years. Our current treasurer is due to stand down at the next AGM, but has agreed to manage a handover. The role description includes taking charge of bank account and membership administration, some fund-raising, supporting events, and handling our small grants scheme. This position would suit someone involved in higher education who knows the language of grant bids, as writing them is a significant part of the role. It might suit a retired member who has had previous financial experience.
Ethnic minorities liaison: one of our ethnic minority liaison posts is currently vacant. This liaison is responsible for making sure issues concerning BAME classicists are heard on the steering committee. We are currently reviewing support for this role since we recognise the considerable amount of work that it involves, and that much of that often falls on junior, precarious colleagues. This is a voluntary position lasting two years and would begin at the AGM.
PhD liaison: our current liaison will step down at the AGM (as she hopes not to be a PhD student for very much longer!). The PhD liaison is responsible for making sure the voice of PhD students is heard on the steering committee. This is a voluntary position lasting two years and would begin at the AGM.
Social media team: we are looking to grow our group of volunteers who oversee the website, the Twitter account and our Facebook page. This is a role which can take as much or as little time as you wish to give to it; the team is open to more members as soon as they’re ready to join.
Administrator: this major role will fall vacant at the 2022 AGM, so we are now starting the process of asking for expressions of interest from people who are interested in taking on this role, to enable some shadowing to take place in advance. It is held for five years. A draft role description is available on request.
Due to the current guidance from Public Health England recommending social distancing to minimise the spread of COVID-19, the Women’s Classical Committee UK 2020 AGM has taken the decision that it will no longer take place physically on 24th April 2020. The host of this year’s AGM, Manchester Metropolitan, remains open but is suspending hosting such events until at least 30 June.
The WCC UK Steering Committee are currently exploring how best to move the AGM to a virtual format, in particular learning from the recent Naked Soul conference run by the Sportula Collective. So please do keep the date free and watch this space for more information about what shape this event will take.
The WCC UK has an explicit child-friendly policy for our events; this will apply to the virtual AGM, and we anticipate many attendees will need to balance participation with child-care. We will do our best to take this into account in our planning.