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Issue 481, 7 May 2002

You're not alone – if you're in the network

A successful network for women academics in science, engineering and technology, which began at Leeds, is to be relaunched to include all disciplines.

LAWN – the local academic women's network– was the brainchild of two Leeds lecturers, Dr Nicky Shaw and Dr Nicola Bown of LUBS (pictured left – r-l), and Dr Zoe Radner and Dr Axel Giroud from the University of Bradford. UniversitiesUK's Athena project were so impressed with the idea, they not only funded the network to support women in science, engineering and technology, but encouraged other regions to set up similar networks under the same name.

Now the Athena funding has ended, the women academics want to continue the network, but extend it to other disciplines.

Dr Bown said: "We've grown from just six members to 40 in three years, proving there's a need for the support, advice, and informal connections the network can offer. We now want to open it to all women academics, irrespective of discipline."

The network grew from the four women’s own needs, as they first entered the intimidating, and still predominantly male environment of academia.

Dr Shaw explains: "Beginning a new job in a university is very bewildering and lonely experience. Our idea was to help women through that period, and encourage them to stay in the profession and progress, by offering a friendly ear, and support from others who've had similar experiences.

"The network can offer professional benefits to established women academics as well, through meeting others in academia, being able to interact across disciplines and through our wide-ranging seminar series."

Members come from universities across the north of England and communicate freely, through email lists and an interactive website.

Several events are planned with high-profile women academics. On May 17, the first woman dean of a business school, Professor Sue Cox from Lancaster University, will be giving personal reflections on her rise from graduate scientist to business school dean. The event takes place in Room 1.33 at Leeds University Business School and is open to non-network members.

For more information, see the website at or contact Dr Bown on or Dr Shaw on

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