Business consultant and author Sadie Sharp is working with 100 scientists, the majority female, to help them build their confidence in a male-dominated sector.
The expert in transformational leadership will be working with the women to lead a Confidence Incarnate virtual course this month (13 July 2020) as part of an ongoing initiative to upskill more women in science sectors with skills around their behaviour and mindset.
Sadie said: "I’m humbled to be asked to write this course to support women in this way. There are several sectors across our society where women are under-represented and also where it can be difficult to retain them. It's well known that sectors including science, construction, engineering and technology all have challenges in this area.
"I hope my course will give these women some practical tools that help them deal with their inner critics and imposter syndrome and feel more confident and assertive in the way they can achieve what they want at work."
Sadie was approached to create a course at the University of Exeter by Dr Penelope Maher, a Research Fellow in the Department of Mathematics and Anna Laws, a PhD student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The workshop has been funded by the University of Exeter Researcher Development and Research Culture team.
Dr Maher leads the Women In Climate network which is a joint University of Exeter and Met Office initiative to support the retention of women in climate science and to promote equality, diversity and inclusion.
Dr Maher said: "As women in STEM we are told to take up space, to speak with authority and to ignore the internal monologue within our heads telling us we are not good enough. But how do we do any of this? We don't wake up one day and think: I am brilliant and I belong. For many of us, we need to be directed by trainers who understand how to do this. This is where Sadie comes in."
The Women In Climate Network recognises there are too few women scientists in science leadership, so as well as discussing topical issues, the network hosts skills-based sessions to help people achieve success in their careers.
Anna Laws leads the University’s Women in Physics network. She said: "The Women in Physics network provides a social setting for women working in the field of physics at the University of Exeter. The group was created because there are disproportionately fewer women within our department, and the field more generally.
"Our group is particularly useful for people working in small research groups who might otherwise have no support network. We coordinate regular coffee catch-ups for meeting new people and for informal discussions of issues facing women in physics and in academia more generally."
This is not the first time that Sadie has worked with the University of Exeter; for the past several years she has trained hundreds of staff in a range of management and personal effectiveness skills, from training and presentation skills, to coaching conversations and influencing skills, all aimed at helping managers and staff practically transform how they do their day to day roles to get more out of their work lives.
Sadie's confidence course will cover subjects such as having difficult conversations, being heard in meetings, demonstrating professional value and capability without bragging, being assertive, managing expectations and dealing with imposter syndrome, all of which was scoped in collaboration with the attendees of the event themselves.
"Women can function at a high level in any sector," Sadie said. "But many, for a variety of reasons, are still held back from feeling able to really throw their hat in the ring at an equal level to those around them, often feeling under confident or outspoken by others. And knowing what you can do to change that and feeling confident enough to actually do it in reality often takes a significant shift in mindset, which is what I love helping people achieve."
Sadie was one of the UK's youngest female management consultants aged just 24, and just more than a decade later, she is now known internationally as an expert in transformational development and leadership as well as organisational design. She is also a published author of her first book Breakthrough and a public speaker.
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