Dr Amy Naylor
Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
'I moved to the University of Birmingham in 2009 with an Arthritis Research UK-funded Foundation Fellowship under the supervision of Professor Chris Buckley (Rheumatology Research Group, II&A). The work resulting from this prestigious fellowship has been published in high ranking journals such as the Journal of the American College of Rheumatology “Arthritis and Rheumatology”. In January 2018, I was awarded a Career Development Fellowship from Arthritis Research UK. This prestigious and highly competitive fellowship provides research funding for five years (£575,000) and will allow me to progress independently with my research.
I’ve had two children during my eight years at the University and feel strongly that the positive support I received from the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, the Rheumatology Research Group in general and Professor Chris Buckley in particular was crucial during this period. Specifically, Chris was very open about the value he puts on his own family life and was accommodating when discussing flexible working options. I returned to work nine months after the birth of my first child in 2012 and seven months after the birth of my second in 2015. In each case I returned full time with one day working from home to accommodate my childcare arrangements.
My husband and I made use of the Shared Parental Leave policy (introduced in 2012), which allowed him to look after each baby full-time for four months whilst I returned to work. This was invaluable as I was able to return to work without the anxiety that comes with settling babies in to nursery, allowing me to focus on my work, rebuild confidence in my abilities and demonstrate to colleagues my ongoing commitment to my career.
“The time that he spent looking after the children full time was also important in resetting our expectations as parents and preventing them falling into stereotyped gender roles: we both now work full time and are ambitious, however we both have flexible working arrangements and can divide equally all aspects of childcare and work around the home.”
Coinciding with each period of maternity leave I was also supervising PhD students as part of the PSIBS (now Sci-Phy-4-Health) scheme. My co-supervisor, Professor Ela Claridge, was extremely supportive and I used email, Skype and “Keep in touch” days to continue to supervise the students whilst other members of the rheumatology team stepped in to support them in the labs.
Following my second maternity leave my colleagues in the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing encouraged and supported me through the fellowship application process.
I truly recognise the value in the support I received and endeavour to encourage others who are navigating this tricky period in their careers. I do this informally by discussing my experiences openly with my peers, and in recent years more formally through a talk entitled “Scientists are human too!” which I have presented at the University of Birmingham post-graduate student induction days (2016 and 2017) and at the Arthritis Research UK Fellows Meeting (2016).'