Next Level Career Community for Women in Academia
The Founding Story
I help female researchers take control of their careers so that they achieve more and find more joy in their academic lives - without burning out.
In my research, I study work identity, meaningful work, and stories about what is important to us in our work. I use ethnographic and narrative methods to talk to people about their work, life, and organization.
Being a researcher and a coach
Then I got the idea that I wanted to use my research interest in a way where I could help people and facilitate change through conversation - and not only through academic publications. In 2020, I finished my training as a coach and process consultant at DISPUK, an education center for psychologists and other human-related professions.
The first 'light bulb moment'
During my coaching training, I started 1:1 coaching sessions with women working as entrepreneurs or in the corporate world. Then a researcher contacted me and she was so thrilled that she had finally found a coach, who understood the unique challenges of the academic world. This was the first 'light bulb moment' for me as I realized I could unite my newfound excitement for coaching and facilitation of change through conversation with my experience as a first-generation academic. I have since used my research interests and my ability to coach individuals and groups to support academics - primarily female academics.
The 'second light bulb moment'
The second 'light bulb moment' struck amidst the isolating backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone was working from home, some were also home-schooling, caring for others and simply trying to get by in the scary new reality. I too felt isolated and lacked meaning in my work, as the world seemed to have been turned upside-down. An idea came to my mind and I started looking for online communities, where female academics could connect, share experiences, and support one another. I didn’t find any. Maybe I should start one myself?
I was immediately struck by self-doubt. Who was I to initiate such a network? I had no experience doing feminist work. I have only just become a tenured associate professor myself after 6 years as a postdoc. I had no experience in starting a network ... what did it even require to start a network? I overcame the self-doubt, the way I now help others do, by taking a tiny leap forward.
The tiny leap
I started a Facebook Group. I thought it might be me and 10 academic friends. But the 10 friends, invited 10 of their friends, and soon the group started growing. In the beginning, it was only Danes, later the Swedes joined, then we expanded to Europe - and though it is still a Scandinavian and Europe-centered network we welcome members from all over the world.
Al the things the community is today
The network has been a playing field for me: We have done (and are still doing) writing festivals, interviews with role models, workshops, Facebook Lives, podcasts, etc. Today it expands beyond the Facebook Group and now includes the Next Level Career Community newsletter, a private podcast feed and a LinkedIn group.
I am passionate about creating a world where more women do research and where research is more diverse and inclusive. I am a strong believer that we need more women who thrive in leadership positions within academia. I am still sometimes overcome by self-doubt if I make any difference towards that vision, but then I meet a member of the Next Level Career Community or receive a kind message online - and I become so happy and filled with joy. Together we have created this community of like-minded women in academia. It keeps me going and ideas for new initiatives for the community keep coming. If you haven't already, please join. See you inside!