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Case studies

Athena SWAN actions have made a real difference to members of the WMS community. Take a look at our case studies below to find out more.

Case study one:

Shared maternity leave for an early career researcher (female)

woman speaking at a conference

Case study two:

Flexible working for carer, with a disabled dependant (male)

man in library

Case study three:

Flexible working for carer, with elderly parents (female)

woman in library

Case study one: shared maternity leave for an early career researcher (female), Associate Professor

"I have worked as a researcher at WMS since 2007. When I was planning my maternity leave for my second pregnancy, I opted to take advantage of the newly developed University shared maternity scheme, which was developed some years before the current 2015 legislation. The shared maternity leave allowed me to return to work, whilst my husband stayed at home to care for our new baby and toddler.

This flexibility meant that I was able to make the decision to return to work sooner, in the knowledge that my new baby was being cared for by family. This delayed the need to enrol our new baby into full time childcare.

The ability to take this option enabled me to begin my recently awarded research grants in a timely manner and apply for future research grant income rounds, which I would otherwise have missed. I was able to do all this with peace of mind that our new baby was in a home environment for those early months."

Case study two: flexible working and carer (male)

"Prior to working at WMS I had a long-term ambition to work at UoW due to its excellent reputation as a dynamic and growing organisation. I fulfilled this ambition last year and now work in WMS in a senior administrative role. I have found the reality of my experience here as an employee to be very good, with a highly supportive environment that encourages everyone to do and achieve their best.

As the parent of a child with a significant learning disability and some health issues, I have found juggling support for my child and meeting work expectations has been very challenging in previous roles. As a parent I need to have regular interaction with my child’s school and we also have many medical appointments to fulfil, which can be very challenging for us as a family to accommodate during the working week.

To my grateful surprise, I have found WMS to have an open and supportive culture where those who need to are empowered to recognise and accommodate the pressures arising from caring duties and still be able to deliver their best. This has been demonstrated by a willingness to allow me to flex my starting and finishing times on a day-to-day basis, enabling me to meet both work and family commitments over the week.

I have also been able to work flexibly during the course of the day, which has allowed me to attend departmental meetings and hospital appointments, as required. One thing which can be challenging in these circumstances is that I sometimes need to respond at short notice to an occasional crisis at home. In my time at WMS I have always felt supported and able to do this, and in turn this makes me more committed to my work.

Finally, I would add that through being able to balance all aspects of my life, I feel I am working for an organisation that cares for my health and wellbeing as well as having a supportive and progressive attitude to flexible working. I believe this is an honourable attribute and, alongside the dynamism and ambition for which we have a reputation externally, another positive reason for working at WMS."

Case study three: flexible working and carer (female)

"I joined the University just over ten years ago into a senior admin role and have been attached to various Departments during this time. This was a change of direction for me professionally: having spent the previous twenty years working in overseas development, I wanted a different challenge where I could put my transferrable skills to good use, and the chance to spend more time in the UK with my four growing children.

Having joined from a different sector, I have been struck by the efforts the University makes to support work/life balance and the emotional as well as practical wellbeing of its staff. This environment has allowed me to thrive and to deliver to my maximum professional potential, and I have been very appreciative of this. I have been attached to WMS for the last four years and WMS’s investment in providing a supportive and safe environment for its staff is noticeable: WMS does more than “talk the talk”.

This became evident to me personally earlier this year, when I realised I was becoming part of the “squeezed middle” group of professional women who, as well as having dependent children, find themselves taking on caring responsibilities for elderly parents. My parents played a major part in helping my husband and I with raising our children. However, over the last four years the tables have turned: my father’s complex health issues mean he is physically and mentally dependent on others. My mother has had major heart surgery and cannot care single-handedly for my father and all the domestic responsibilities.

So I now make 200 mile round trips to my parents as well as raising my teenage children. Earlier this year this culminated in the decision for my parents to move closer to me as a matter of urgency. Unfortunately this coincides with major public exams, sporting commitments and educational transitions for my children. And the property my parents are moving into requires adaptation to make it usable for my father and carercompliant. Having come to the conclusion that the only solution is to request absence from work at key domestic times this year, I was nervous of how this would be received by my line manager because WMS is only just emerging from a period of major review and restructure, and I don’t like to blur my professional and personal lives.

However I have been delighted and very grateful for the support provided by WMS. My line manager has been nothing but positive in relation to my request, confirming WMS’s support for me, helping me over a period of time think through the best solution, negotiating various internal hoops, and then ensuring the administrative approvals for unpaid leave have been quickly put in place. I now feel I can continue to work to the best of my ability in a job that I enjoy, whilst also looking after the best interests of my parents and children during important periods in their lives."