The following instructions will assist you to control the video player using the keyboard.
Starting and stopping the video
- Use the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination to navigate the video player controls.
- Navigate to the Play button using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the Spacebar or Enter key to toggle between play and pause.
- Navigate to the closed captions button using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the Spacebar or Enter key to open the closed captions menu.
- Navigate to the preferred close captions option using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the Spacebar or Enter key to activate the close caption option.
- Navigate to the volume slider using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the left or right arrow to decrease and increase the volume.
- Navigate to the full screen button using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the Spacebar or Enter key to toggle between full screen video and normal size.
Interview Leadership Series - Kay L
Well, welcome to the second in the three-part leadership series on leadership and reconciliation. And this week, we are chatting with RMIT's very own Professor Kay Latham, who is the Dean of STEMM, Diversity and Inclusion. Kay, thank you so much for taking the time this morning.
Um, thank you, I'm delighted to be here.
When you first started at RMIT, were you aware of what reconciliation means to our organisation? And if so, how did that affect your leadership style? If not, what did you need to learn to be able to affect your leadership style?
Okay. Well, I've been at RMIT for 21 years. I came in from the UK as a postdoctoral fellow and I've kind of worked my way through and taken various roles. So, I was a new immigrant and unfortunately, like many new immigrants to Australia, I was not as familiar or aware of the true history and sovereignty of Australia at my time of arrival. So, I've been on a personal journey, I suppose, over those years.
And RMIT itself was also a different place. I don't recall at the time a great emphasis on reconciliation. It might be that I was junior and not so aware of the cultural view. So, really, reconciliation and my awareness thereof, has ramped up, let's say, over the last 5 to 10 years, that-- in that sort of period. And definitely of its greater embedding across our values and activities over that time period. And that has mirrored my own journey from being an academic through into leadership. I think, I took on my first leadership, real leadership role, in about 2014. So, it happens in parallel and my awakening, also. So, it's hard to separate the two and the particular efforts that I made in becoming more aware as a leader in reconciliation, that they were intertwined.
Also, because I became more involved in inclusion through my Athena SWAN activities, which were also in parallel to my other leadership roles, I've needed and also felt the drive to become more aware and more involved in reconciliation activities and promotion of inclusion for all peoples. So, that's kind of where I'm coming from. I've obviously taken all opportunities to undertake credentials. I've had lots of opportunities to experience the work of our Indigenous Elders and those have been an immense privilege to be part of. And they've certainly coloured my attitudes and my awareness. Every time I get asked to do an Acknowledgement of Country these days, it's been a great opportunity to learn even more and to really uncover-- science is my background and to learn more about our First Nations people's approach and learnings and the stories that have been carried for thousands of generations. And to embed that into my own view of science and scientific thinking.
Yeah, that would be a [inaudible] *0:04:04.5, yeah. In your role as professor of chemistry, science and as a leader in your field, have you handled-- or how have you, sorry, handled or managed relationships where the power dynamics of your role and gender have become an issue in the workplace?
Because I've got such a long history at RMIT, I would say in my junior days, when I was-- well, I was younger and I had a less senior position at the University, I definitely experienced moments where I was being-- I felt that I couldn't be heard or that my opinion was perhaps not received or acknowledged as much. Very occasionally now it can still happen. Because of that and how it made me feel-- made me feel invisible and not as if my voice was counted, as a less senior person or a younger person, I've taken that on board when I did become a leader.
And I try to ensure that I create a safe space, an inclusive space in the meetings, to ensure that those people who are quieter or more reticent in coming forward with ideas have a safe space, are given an opportunity to speak out over, perhaps, loud and more confident voices. And often, it's these quieter people who come up with absolutely pearls of ideas. And if you haven't created that space, you never would have known. So, that is certainly what I try and do practice active listening, inclusion, ensure that the end of the meeting I also summarise and give credit for those that came up with the original idea and/or helped to flesh out that idea significantly, so that we capture that.
Yeah, that notion of wrapping up and acknowledging is really valuable, I think. I really think that's a fantastic way to summarise a meeting. I'm just curious as an aside, also as we're moving-- or over the last little while, we've moved into sort of virtual realm more, how that changes that dynamic of, I guess, the power dynamic in virtual meetings as opposed to a sort of a face-to-face? It's quite a different-different dynamic. Do you think it's helped or made it--
Ah, yeah, I think it's kind of--
More difficult or--?
Same but different [chuckles]. So, I still try and ensure that I hear from everyone. But not everyone is on camera, and that can be for a variety of reasons, including practical things like bandwidth. So, it's not alwa-- you're not always able to judge to the same extent how engaged people are, how much space people have got to actually talk and engage properly. So, I think you have to practice another layer of effort on that. But I still try and include everybody.
I think it's hard when you are watching chat, you're watching hands up, you're trying to read people's faces. So, you are multitasking. So, I think as a chair in a large meeting, it was really quite hard to pick up those skills and to train yourself to look for these multiple different indicators. So, I've certainly got better at that over the last six months [chuckles]. But you still need a nudge occasionally and what did they say that the teacher of the year should say something like "sorry, I was on mute". So, I think we've lost a number of inputs, because people are on mute and they simply forgot what they wanted to say [laughs].
Pearls of wisdom lost in the ether. Yeah, look, it has been challenging and touchwood, we'll be shifting back to a more normal face-to-face environment where we can-- those sort of micro gestures and the sorts of things that are used as humans to identify these emotions and things will return.
Sorry, I interrupted you. But I think the other key things is that our contact always has to be engineered. I think everybody mourns the loss of the incidental conversation. They say, "oh, glad I've seen you, what do you think about this or have you heard about that?" That takes a lot of energy to try and keep going. Yeah.
It's so true. Why is it important to champion diversity in the tertiary sector? And specifically, RMIT's workforce?
Well, I mean, just take that last bit about RMIT. RMIT has always prided itself on-on being inclusive at its very roots. It provided education and training to those that did not have the opportunity. It had-- education had something that was more for the elite and the wealthy. And RMIT was part of that-that movement to more broadly open those opportunities and to train professionals. And we've continued to build on that. So, I think it goes to our core. If we don't model inclusivity at RMIT, then we are really just not being true to our own values.
So, there is that. And then, with a fo-- my focus, I may STEMM a trained person, Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths, Medicine person. And within those fields, they are still very male dominated, and they can be quite middle-class as well. And we need to have people, a greater number of people, a greater diversity with STEMM-based education. We are communicating today through technology. Everybody has to have those skills. It cannot be classed as an expertise anymore. So, at the very roots, everybody needs these skills to be able to interact and to affect their lives. And if we are excluding vast tracts of that population on STEMM-based education, particularly around maths, then they will be held back and not given an opportunity. Plus, STEMM careers are really creative. They are communitive, they are collegiate, they are international. And more people should see that. And certainly, it's been a very, very rewarding environment for myself over the last goodness knows how many decades. I would not have had the opportunities that I've had without engaging in a STEMM-based career.
So, we need, particularly more women. We need people from all different backgrounds to embrace intersectionality and support everybody to succeed in those-- in all fields across RMIT. But as I say, STEMM is my passion and it certainly the one that is, at the moment, it's not able to benefit as well on diversity than other areas of the University. And it makes absolutely perfect business sense. Everyone is-- well, I don't know if everyone is aware. But definitely, having a greater diversity of people, engage the diversity of minds, leads to greater creativity and the business will be the better for it. We'll be in a better place to be able to compete and we'll be better role models for our future students and society.
Hm, and I think there's nothing like a global pandemic and the climate crisis to remind people of the importance, not only of relying on these areas expertise, but adopting some of those ideas themselves. Like you say, actually becoming-- as well as the technology you are talking about, people needing some basic understanding. And those two existential crises sort of looming large, now is the time to really embrace it and also ensure that as many voices are heard, so [inaudible] *0:13:00.7.
Yeah, absolutely. And we've become more resilient, I think, more embracing of change. We're tired, but we're more resilient and we're more open to new ways of working. And we would not have had this movement without this major global impact of COVID. And we need to capture the best of our previous world and our current adaptation to move forward.
Agreed. Well, thanks again Kay for your thoughts and your insights and what is an increasingly important consideration for universities, and they like to challenge, I guess, tradition power dynamics and aspire to lead in providing genuinely diverse and inclusive work and opportunities. So, thank you and all the very best.
Thank you very much.