International Women’s Day – In conversation with Dr Silvia Liverani
In this blog, we spoke to Dr Silvia Liverani, Senior Lecturer in Statistics at Queen Mary University of London. To mark International Women’s Day whose theme this year revolves around taking action for equality, we asked her about her role in the EDI Committee at The School of Mathematical Sciences.
How long have you been working at Queen Mary University and what does your research entail?
I started working at Queen Mary University in October 2017. I am a statistician, so I have been teaching statistical modules. Currently, I am teaching Time Series Analysis for Business, a postgraduate module. My research focuses on statistical methods such as Bayesian spatial modelling and clustering, with applications to a variety of fields, including the link between pollution and health.
With International Women’s Day coming up soon, it’s worth remembering that The School of Maths is committed to equal opportunities and we proudly hold a Bronze award under the Athena SWAN charter, which promotes gender equality. You are also EDI Committee Chair. What does your role entail and what does it mean to you?
EDI stands for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Within my role, I am trying to affect change in a variety of ways. In the EDI committee, we review student and staff data with regards to protected characteristics (gender, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.) and we try to identify areas where targeted actions might bring more diversity or support inclusion of all minorities. As EDI Committee Chair I also sit in a variety of committees within the School and the Faculty, where I have an opportunity to affect change directly, for example by supporting changes in policies or decision-making. Finally, I try to support directly groups of staff, for example, screening a film for LGBT History Month or having regular Women's Lunches for female staff to get together and support each other. Working on EDI matters is hard work, especially because EDI issues can affect people, including myself, very deeply. However, change is happening! Although not nearly as fast as I wish, change is definitely happening and I am optimistic that in the future we will have a much more diverse and inclusive environment.
What would your advice be for women who are just starting out in your industry?
One thing that I have recently discovered and wish I had realised long ago is that people who appear successful to you (whether at work or in their personal life) are keen to share with you how they got there - take advantage of it! If you know what your next step is, or where you want to see yourself in 10 years, identify someone who has achieved what you would like to achieve, and ask them: "How did you get there? What should I do to achieve the same success as you have?" People love giving advice, especially when you are saying that they seem successful - what a compliment! This can be done informally, but also formally through a mentorship scheme.
To learn more about EDI at the School of Mathematical Sciences click here.