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Breaking Glass Ceilings and Building Bridges – Equate Conference

15th November 2023 @ 10:00 am - 2:00 pm

breaking glass ceilings and building bridges: a call for allies in STEM. Equate Scotland Conference on 15 November

The theme of Equate’s 2023 conference is “Breaking Glass Ceilings and Building Bridges: A call for allies in STEM”. The conference will focus on the critical role of allyship in creating a more equal, diverse, and inclusive STEM community in Scotland. By bringing together professionals, experts, and advocates, we aim to foster meaningful dialogue, share best practices, and inspire action towards a more equitable future.  

We will also be launching our most recent research report at the conference. The report summarises our survey of women and non-binary people’s experience in the STEM sector in Scotland. Our survey findings show that Scotland is not an exception to the global crisis facing gender diversity in STEM industries, with women and minority genders facing hostile work cultures and feeling excluded from the STEM workplace. Large numbers of women and non-binary people in STEM industries report facing discrimination due to caring responsibilities or misunderstanding of gynaecological health conditions. We will circulate a full summary of our research findings with you a week before the conference. 

The first session of the conference will be an hour-long facilitated panel discussion themed around the topic of allyship in STEM, which will include some time for questions from the audience. As a panel member, you will have an opportunity to discuss your journey to, and experiences in, your career as a leader in STEM, and to share your views on our newest research findings. The questions we may ask you are listed at the end of this document. 

After the panel session you are invited to stay on for the interactive workshop sessions and networking lunch. The workshops will cover essential themes including Being an Active Bystander, Tackling Internalised Misogyny, and Embedding Systemic Change. These interactive sessions will offer valuable tools, strategies, and resources to empower individuals to become effective allies and advocates in their respective fields.  


The full conference agenda can be seen below: 


10:00-10:15 Opening remarks 
10:15-11:15 Panel discussion with audience Q&A 
11:15-11:30 Break 
11:30-12:45 Interactive workshops on allyship best practices 
12:45-13:00 Break 
13:00-13:15 Closing remarks and STEMinist award ceremony 
13:15-14:00 Networking lunch 
The venue will remain open until 14:30 for people who wish to stay to continue networking. 


Meet the panellists: 


Alex Maclaren 

Alex is an RIBA/RIAS Chartered Architect and fellow of the RSA and the HEA. She is Strategic Projects Lead for L&T at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. 

Alex is devoted to education that captivates and inspires learners, confronting the challenges of the Climate Emergency. She is pioneering programmes for higher education syllabi, working between construction subjects and with professionals outside HE. She believes that only a diversity of viewpoints, essentially including women of all ages and backgrounds, can deliver the technical evolution of the construction industry, and inspire future generations.

Carol Marsh 

Dr Carol Marsh is Head of Digital Systems at Celestia UK, expanding their digital capabilities for phased-array antennas for satellite communications. She was the Interim Head of Electronics Engineering at Leonardo, an executive role and has worked in electronics for 40-years. 

Carol is an alumnus of 5 Universities, a Visiting Professor at Napier University, a Trustee / Vice President of the IET. She sits on many boards and is a winner of several awards, including an OBE for Diversity and Inclusion.As only 16.5% of engineers are women and there is a shortage of engineers, it is really important to have allies who encourage women.

Christina MacLeod 

Christina MacLeod is the Cluster Development Project Manager for Space Scotland. Here, she is managing the ‘Developing a Sustainable Scottish Space Sector’ project, which was awarded funding through the UK Space Agency Space Agency Space Cluster Development Fund. The work packages encompass sustainability initiatives, skills development projects, and cross-sector accelerators to expand the space sector. Previously, Christina founded and chaired the online Edinburgh Women in Space Conference, which saw over 700 attendees attend the three-day conference from all around the world. Christina’s background is in mechanical engineering, as she graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2021.


Steph Wright 

Steph has a diverse background ranging from astrophysics to genomics in academia and film & TV to dance in the arts and the third sector. A project and programme management professional with extensive experience in the data and AI space, she loves to develop and build collaborations across organisations to help people with their data/AI journey. Steph led on Data Lab’s efforts in support of the Scottish Government in developing Scotland’s AI Strategy and she’s now leading on the delivery of the strategy’s vision for Scotland to be a leader in the development and use of trustworthy, ethical and inclusive AI. She is passionate about diversity in STEM and is also Co-Founder of Diverse AI, a not-for-profit working to support and grow diversity in AI. 


Nazira Karodia 

Professor Nazira Karodia is Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice Principal for Learning & Teaching at Edinburgh Napier University. She has an academic career spanning over 20 years in Chemistry, STEM education and university leadership. She is a national leader in inclusive curriculum, extending university opportunity and attracting students from marginalized communities. She is passionate that students not only enjoy their university learning but carry into their future lives a passion for further learning, skills enhancement, sustainability, and a commitment to community. In pursuit of this, her focus is on the entire pedagogic experience and student preparation for life. 

Nazira studied Chemistry in South Africa and completed her PhD at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. After post-doctoral posts at the University of Florida and at St Andrews, she held a range of academic roles at the University of Bradford and later headed their STEM Programme. She moved to the University of Wolverhampton to be Professor in Science Education, becoming the Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering and then Pro Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for leading the Knowledge Exchange, employability, and regional engagement. Her achievements range from regional Directorship of a national higher education STEM project to securing significant funding for skills and regional development work. She is Convener of Universities Scotland Admissions Policy Group, a member of the Advance HE Race Equality Committee Governance Committee and their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Advisory Group. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. 



Workshop 1: PRACTICAL MAGIC: A spell for systemic change  

Facilitator: Lynn Killick, Director, LeadingKind 

In this session participants will learn how to move from warm words about allyship to tangible actions that advance equality, foster good relations, and address persistent inequalities. 

We will demystify diversity and explore the practical ways to ensure that acts of allyship are impactful, not performative. 

Following an introduction from Lynn, participants will take part in the magic of design thinking activities so that they can challenge assumptions, redefine problems, and begin to co-create solutions to tackle inequalities in the workplace… Just like that.  


Lynn Killick   

Following an early career in the financial & legal sectors Lynn has spent the last 24 years working in the field of Human Rights and Equality. She founded Leading Kind in 2020 to support organisations make workplaces kinder and more inclusive, and outcomes better.  

As part of the development of the Equality Act 2010 she was commissioned by the EHRC to draft the supporting non-statutory guidance more recently has led a research project to inform the development of refreshed equality regulations for one of the devolved governments in Great Britain.  

Her research has informed inclusive recruitment approaches ranging from entry level positions across the NHS, to Ministerial Appointments to the Boards of Public Bodies. With an academic background in Informatics, she is interested in the use (or otherwise) of evidence to inform decision-making. Lynn’s work has led to large scale systemic change in employment practice leading to increased diversity, improved employer brand, and reduced costs in a range of workplace settings, as well as improvements in oversight and accountability that are driving forward action to address inequalities.  

When she isn’t working to improve outcomes for people, you’ll most likely find Lynn cooking up a storm or planning the next family adventure. 


Workshop 2: Catalysts for Change: Active Bystander Training 

Facilitator: Jil Sheth , Training and Engagement Coordinator, Equate Scotland 

This interactive workshop provides skills and strategies for participants to intervene as active bystanders in STEM fields. Through a presentation and group activities, attendees will learn how to define unacceptable behaviours such as discrimination and microaggressions, recognise situations that require intervention, and overcome common barriers to intervening. 

By the end of the session, attendees will have tools and strategies to shift cultural norms through active bystander intervention, advancing inclusion and promoting welcoming environments in STEM contexts. 

Learning objectives 

  • Define unacceptable behaviours such as discrimination, harassment and microaggressions 
  • Recognise situations that warrant active bystander intervention in STEM contexts. 
  • Understanding stages of the intervention process and common barriers to intervening to devise strategies to overcome them. 
  • Demonstrate effective communication strategies for direct and indirect intervention as an active bystander 
  • Practice applying intervention strategies and the four-stage process

Jil Sheth  

Training and Engagement Coordinator 

Jil is a highly motivated and accomplished researcher and engineer who has a deep passion for encouraging more women to pursue careers in STEM fields. She brings her expertise and experience as a STEM Ambassador, community volunteer, Women in STEM society leader, EQUATE Scotland champion, and United Nations volunteer to her role at Equate. She currently pursues PhD in Urban studies at Heriot-Watt University and is President of Watt-Women society. 

As Training and Engagement Coordinator, Jil is responsible for engaging with key employer stakeholders, designing and delivering training materials for Equate’s audiences, and coordinating and delivering free training for women, employers, and educators. She believes that allyship plays an important role in inspiring and sustaining women in STEM fields. 


Workshop 3: From competition to collaboration: exploring the role of internalised misogyny in building gender equality  

Facilitators:  Michelle Parkes and Kirsty Diamond, Network Rail 



Participants will learn how to define what internalised misogyny is and how to identify it within themselves.  They will also learn how to challenge gender stereotypes and bias  

Key learning outcomes:  

  • Understand how to clarify the concept internalised misogyny and explain how it manifests in a male-dominated industry.
  • Explore the various ways individuals may internalize societal prejudices and norms, affecting their own beliefs, thoughts, and actions. 
  • Recognise signs of internalised misogyny within themselves.
  • Understand common negative beliefs and self-limiting behaviours that stem from internalised misogyny, such as self-doubt, imposter syndrome, or a fear of asserting oneself
  • Explore the impact of gender stereotypes and unconscious biases on career progression.
  • Discuss common biases faced and provide strategies to challenge and overcome them


Michelle Parkes 

Michelle Parkes is a Senior Surveyor in Property and Chair for Inspire Scotland, Scotland’s Railway equality network.  She is passionate about helping people identify their blockers to achieving their full potential and creating equal opportunities for everyone. She believes that allies play an important role to play by helping to break gender stereotypes and supporting gender equality.  Outside of work, she loves the attention of her four cats, reading psychological thrillers and has just developed a love of cold water dipping.      


Kirsty Diamond 

Kirsty Diamond is a culture and engagement business partner in Scotland’s Railway with vast HR, inclusion and engagement experience.  Using her lived experience as a disabled woman, Kirsty excels at advocating and amplifying voices, providing learning experiences and systemic culture change. Kirsty is a creative and data driven partner who believes firmly in inclusion led design, and involving employees in discussions on policies and changes that affect them.  Awarded the Nil by Mouth Champion for Change award in 2018, Kirsty is a keen advocate of the need to educate and change behaviours on sectarianism. She believes that allies can help challenge and dismantle systemic biases and contribute to creating a more equitable and inclusive world for all.   


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