Achievements and Case Studies


Latest Achievements include:

University funding secured for an Athena SWAN related PhD Bursary

Case Studies

The following case studies identify examples of real life experiences of staff at the University of Wolverhampton. They capture some of the issues and hurdles that staff have faced and the support that they have been able to access from the University to assist them. 


Dr Lisa Orchard - Institute of Psychology


Dr Lisa Orchard, Institute Of Psychology Lecturer.

'I started my academic career as a Psychology Demonstrator in the Institute of Psychology at the University of Wolverhampton in 2007, shortly after graduating with a BSc in Psychology. While privately ambitious in terms of wanting to pursue an academic career, I was the first in my family to go to university, and so I lacked confidence in my abilities.However, my demonstrator position was a fundamental ‘launch pad’ into an academic career because I immediately felt supported and empowered, and from the very beginning I was treated as a valuable member of the Institute of Psychology. Just 1 year into my demonstrator position I was actively encouraged to apply for a University of Wolverhampton funded PhD. I was successful in my application, and commenced my programme of research in October 2008. I would not have completed my PhD if it were not for key members in the Institute of Psychology mentoring me through the process. For example, supporting me to improve my self-confidence, encouraging me to collaborate with them on existing research projects, one of which culminated in attending my first international conference in Brno, Czech Republic, and funding travel and expenses to enable me to attend academic conferences to present my work.



Athena SWAN Lisa Orchard pic 

Towards the end of my PhD I took up a part-time lecturing position at Coventry University, and then a full-time lecturing position at Derby University following completion of my PhD. In August 2013 I commenced a period of maternity leave, and after giving birth to my son Noah I returned to work at Derby University, part-time. However, in early 2015 a lecturing position became available at the University of Wolverhampton, and given my positive experience of working in the Institute of Psychology I was excited to apply for the post – I was extremely happy to be successful. However, I was concerned about returning to work full-time, as a new mother. But my experience could not have been more positive. Not only did I immediately feel just as valued and supported as I had been previously, but on discussing my concerns regarding balancing family life and work life with my line manager and mentor, my worries were quickly put to rest. My line manager made it clear to me that he completely understood the need to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and assured me that I could manage my workload autonomously to allow me flexibility around my childcare needs. This has been incredibly useful, particularly given that my husband also works full time, and commutes long distances to work several days a week. Without such a flexible approach I do not believe that I could have returned to work full-time, despite my desire to progress in science. There have been times when I have felt like giving up. Being a working mother is tiring and hectic. However, it is also very rewarding. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of the Institute of Psychology, not least because of  the positive ‘can do’ attitude that is apparent when I comes to enabling me to manage several equally important aspects of my life: my family; my students; my research'.




Dr Jo Chen-Wilson Institute of Psychology

Dr Jo Chen-Wilson Institute of Psychology, Senior Lecturer.

'I started working as a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Psychology (IoP) at the University of Wolverhampton in 2003. My career was progressing at a steady pace and I was the proud recipient of the Rising Star Teaching and Learning Awards at the beginning of 2006.

However, my academic journey slowed dramatically when my daughter was born at the end of 2006.  My family reside in Taiwan and my husband’s family live some distance away in the north east of England and so I had virtually no child care support.  My decision to return to work following maternity leave was a difficult one, and if I am to be honest filled me with complete dread. But, my Mother supported me from a distance, pointing out that I needed to maintain my own hard fought scientific identity in addition to being a mother. I returned to work, part-time, in the IoP in 2007.

Undoubtedly, from that point my priorities in life changed. However, I still had the desire to further develop as an academic, and I have continued to slowly progress. With the help and support from my family, friends and colleagues in the IoP I have become a more rounded researcher, I am more resilient and have developed better time management skills. There have been numerous overwhelming moments when I have wondered whether being a scientist and a mother was too much. However, the valuable support I have received from my colleagues at the IoP have helped nurse me through these moments. For example, when my daughter has been ill and I have been desperate because of competing demands, the worry and stress associated with these instances has been greatly mediated by the invaluable support I have, and continue to receive from, among others, my colleagues, who have swapped teaching at very short notice, and my research mentor has kept in contact, throughout. Without doubt, this type of support has been fundamental in enabling me to keep an active research profile.

In 2014, despite working part-time hours, I was successful in applying to the Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme, awarded by the British Psychological Society. The application itself, and the successful completion of the BPS project funded by the award was only possible because of the tremendous support I received from my line manager and colleagues at the IoP. I have also recently been successful in applying for a place on the Aurora Leadership Foundation women-only leadership course, which is supported and financed by the University of Wolverhampton.    

I am pleased that I returned to work in 2007.   My life has been much enriched in parallel from working with great people, doing ‘good’ science, and acting as a role model for my daughter who sees me developing experimental materials, and working with children at her school. She leafs through my statistical output and asks me to explain the graphs and figures – she has just turned 9 and wants to be a scientist, and has just been awarded a Certificate of Achievement from her school for “her mature and conscientious approach to science”. I am a proud mummy and a proud Psychologist'.

Dr Jo Chen Wilson's Daughter's Drawing (Athena SWAN)

 Jo's daughter's drawing illustrates her mom's inspiration as role model.



Dr Tracey Devonport Institute of Sport, Reader in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Dr Tracey Devonport Institute of Sport, Reader in Sport and Exercise Psychology


‘I started my career in 1995 working as a Sport Science lecturer at Darlington College of Technology. Following spells as a sport scientist with England Netball and lecturing at Coventry University, I started working at the University of Wolverhampton as a Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology in 2001. At this point in my career, my priority was gaining accreditation as an applied sport and exercise psychologist, I had no research aspirations or outputs to speak of. However, I quickly developed an enthusiasm for research partly because of the informal mentoring of Professor Andy Lane. Such mentoring provided a belief that I could cut it as a researcher and the opportunity to do so. My key research achievements to date include 47 papers published in peer reviewed academic journals, 3 books, 13 book chapters, and 10 professional papers. In 2015 I was honoured to be made a fellow of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Science (BASES) for my contributions and commitment to BASES and sport and exercise sciences.

Athena SWAN Dr Tracey Devonport

So, what happened in the 15 years since my appointment at the University of Wolverhampton to facilitate my career development? Most importantly, I have felt well supported to pursue my career aspirations, and feel fortunate to be working in a highly collegiate environment. I have received two short, but highly instrumental sabbaticals. The first in 2006 to finish off my PhD and the second in 2009 to write a book and prepare research bids. I also received University funding in 2008 from the Early Researcher Award Scheme to undertake research exploring dyadic coping among PhD students and partners. In 2012 I applied for and was awarded the title of Reader in Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology allowing me to focus on research and support others in pursuing their own research aspirations. I was submitted to the Research Excellence Framework in 2014 with positive outcomes for unit of assessment 26. In 2015 I became the Athena SWAN champion for the Institute of Sport enabling me to lead and develop initiatives intended to support equality of career development opportunities.

 In my personal life, in 2010 I became a mother for the first time and again in 2012. This has been the most rewarding and transformative experience of my life. A second transformative event was the passing of my mother from a short and devastating illness in 2013. The University allowed me to work flexibly so that along with my father I could provide home care for my mother during her final months. As my parents live in North Yorkshire this was a most welcomed concession from the University, and demonstrated an investment in people that I cannot imagine finding in many other places of work or vocations.


Taking opportunities for flexible working with children and whilst caring for my mother has allowed me to continue my career development and support the University research strategy. Indeed 29 of my 46 peer reviewed outputs have been published since having my first and then second child, and whilst caring for my mother and coming to terms with her loss. A flexible attitude towards working allows me to work full time whilst concurrently meeting all the (lovely) demands that young children present. Maintaining a personal life and hobbies are vital for my well-being. In 2014, in memory of my mother I cycled from Lands’ End to John O’Groats raising over £5,000 for the hospice that helped care for her.


In summary, my advice for anyone looking to further their career is to keep the four F’s in order. Fun working, Focussed working, Flexible working and Family focus (making time for each other).’

Lauren Smith - University of Wolverhampton Institute of Sport Alumni

Athena SWAN - Lauren Smith

Name: Lauren Smith

Job Title and description:Operations Manager (GB Teams) – British Wheelchair Basketball



I am responsible for the efficient and effective operations of the GB Performance Programmes. This involves designing and monitoring adherence to policies and protocols in line with both legal requirements (i.e., safeguarding) and effective performance operations (i.e., annual planning and review). I also manage the day-to-day operational considerations and relationships with relevant stakeholders (UK Sport, British Paralympic Association, English Institute of Sport, Sport England, British Athletes Commission, UK Anti-Doping)

As the GB Women’s team manager I hold responsibility for the team attending the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

 What inspired you to pursue a career in sport?

Sport has been my passion from a very early age, through every stage in my life. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a multitude of sports, and get the opportunity to meet some great people of which I am still in contact with.  I loved both school sport and partaking in sports activity camps over the summer.  When I was studying for a sports degree I felt it was somewhat frowned upon, but these days I feel it is accepted more as people strive for such fast paced and rewarding jobs.  This however never held me back.


What and when did you study at the University of Wolverhampton

 I studied Sports Studies from 2001-2003

How did your studies influence your career development:

I thoroughly enjoyed studying Sports Studies at the University of Wolverhampton and I knew it was going to fuel me for success along with my sporting abilities to gain a job in sports management.  I knew that the University of Wolverhampton was the right one when I attended the open day.  The staff were so friendly and the modules really interested me.  I was also fortunate enough to receive a Sports Scholarship for my achievements in the GB Synchronised Swimming Team.  The degree enabled me to gain some good contacts and opportunities as well as train full time for which I am very thankful.


What is your greatest achievement to date?






Great Britain Synchronised Swimming Team Captain 2009 & 2010. 

Bronze Medal Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010 – Solo, Synchronised Swimming

Bronze Medal – European Cup – Synchronised Swimming

Great Britain Synchronised Swimmer of the Year 2010 and numerous British Titles throughout my career



What would be your advice for women looking to pursue a career in the sports field?




Having contacts is key; I have found this has helped me a great deal and so I partake in a lot of networking

Take up opportunities for volunteer work in sport to get a flavour of what you would really like to do.

Never be afraid to gain advice from those in the know.

Never cease to settle for second best aim high!

You will love it!!