Dame Julia Goodfellow: International Women’s Day – Be Bold for Change

Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow DBE, CBE, FMedSci, FInstP is the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Kent. In her colourful career, she has been Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and is the elected President of Universities UK for 2015-2017. As part of our International Women’s Day celebrations, we spoke to her as she nears retirement about how being bold for change has been relevant in her career.

As I am coming up to retirement, after a career as a woman scientist and then as a woman leader in research and higher education, it is interesting to reflect on the massive changes that have taken place over my working life time.  The sort of world into which I was born and grew up in is incomprehensible to someone of my daughter’s generation.  Perhaps it is best summed up by noting that it was only fifteen years ago that I became the first woman to be chief executive of any research council and in 2015 I was elected the first woman president of Universities UK, which represents university vice-chancellors across the UK.

So, although I see that there has been considerable change, we need to do more. Within universities we need to continue initiatives to ensure that the percentage of women promoted to professor increases from the current level of about 24% across all disciplines. We need to support more women to take on leadership positions within academic schools, our professional service departments and our faculties.

I am delighted that Professor Karen Cox has been named as my successor. She will bring her own expertise and experience to the University. I hope she will continue to take the University forward using bold initiatives of her own.

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