Technical leadership programme for women begins

24 January 2023

The Herschel Programme welcomes 2023 cohort

Helen Sharman
Helen Sharman OBE

The 2023 Herschel Programme for Women in Technical Leadership has begun for the second year.

350 technicians from 71 higher education and research institutes are taking part in this year’s six-month technical leadership course. 

Developed by Midlands Innovation TALENT the Herschel Programmes focuses on boosting the number of women in managerial and leadership roles, as well as tackling the equality, diversity and inclusion challenges in the workforce. 

Helen Sharman OBE, President of the Institute of Science and Technology, and the first British astronaut, welcomed the new cohort of current and aspiring leaders at the online launch event which took place on 18th January. 

According to data from the University of Nottingham, only 32% of women are in technical management and leadership roles within higher education and research settings.

Helen Sharman said: “I almost didn’t apply for the job as an astronaut, but if I didn’t put myself forward, I would have had no chance. It was incredible to get the job, which I describe as a space technician. Doing something different gave me the confidence to do new things which started the story of the rest of my career.

“The world is changing rapidly, it’s a fabulous time for technicians. […] Sometimes we do need to take a chance, make a change, go for it.”

The launch event included a technician-led panel discussion with Jade Christie (from the University of Nottingham), Dr Jodie Fisher (from the University of Plymouth), and Manik Puranik (from the University of Reading), who completed the 2022 programme. 

Jade said: “I didn’t realise how powerful the programme was going to be. Having conversations with people who had the experiences, challenges and thoughts as me was really beneficial. 

“Now I have a new group of friends, a new network and I’m in a better place because of it and in a new role. I can’t push enough how valuable this is. People who take part in the programme will grow and gain.”

Dr Jodie Fisher, who was successful in getting a technical specialist role following last year’s programme, said: “The programme helped to give me confidence and made me realise that I want to help boost others and celebrate other people’s successes.”

Kelly Vere MBE

Dr Kelly Vere MBE, University Director of Technical Strategy for the University of Nottingham and Programme Lead for TALENT, said: “We are so excited to launch this programme for the second year in 2023, dedicated to people who identify as women in technical roles within higher education and research.

“This unique initiative has been developed as part of the Research England funded Midlands Innovation TALENT programme, which is committed to advancing the careers, status and visibility of technicians.

“We know that one of the challenges in the sector is a lack of diversity within technical management and leadership roles; we are determined to change this. The bespoke modules within this programme will give you confidence, skills and tools to develop within your own roles and further assert the valuable role of technicians within your institutions.”

The 2023 programme will conclude in July 2023.