The Herschel Programme ended its 6 month training with an in-person celebration event at Birmingham’s Macdonald Burlington Hotel yesterday. The programme welcomed over 300 women from 70 institutions from across the UK onto the course for 2023 which smashed the previous year’s number of 180 delegates. Kelly Vere MBE was astounded and thrilled at the number of women who applied and felt it reflected the need for this programme.
The Herschel Programme was created and 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. It was created to address and work towards changing the lack of diversity within technical management and leadership roles. The bespoke modules within this programme gives the delegates confidence, skills and tools to develop within their own roles and further assert the valuable role of technicians within their institutions. It was inspiring to hear from those at the event who shared their successes with advancing their careers since having completed the course.
The programme is named after Caroline Herschel, a pioneer in the discovery of comets and other astronomy work, assisting her brother William. Caroline was an early ‘technician’ at the turn of the 19th century and paved the way for the women of the future to contribute to and play key roles in scientific endeavours. At the event every person received a novel based on Caroline Herschel, specially printed for the event and those that completed the training, called ‘Double the Stars’ by Kelly Swain. Delegates also received ‘Herschel Leaders’ pins and certificates.
The day included a welcome from Kelly Vere MBE, a talk from the author Kelley Swain about her novel ‘Double the Stars’, a Career and Development panel discussion, programme reflections, poster exhibition from delegates and a keynote speech with Q&A from Professor Carole Mundell, Director of Science, European Space Agency.
Rhiannon Chappell and Jo Scamp from Kent were among those at the event and have found the training and experience to be of great value to them. The connections and network made from this programme has been invaluable. We would highly recommend anyone interested in applying for the Herschel Programme to do so. Applications will be opened this Autumn.