Celebrating inspirational women in South London; Dr Melissa Jogie

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke to some inspiring women in South London to discover what this year’s theme, ‘Inspire Inclusion’, means to them.

Dr Melissa Jogie is a researcher at the University of Roehampton, wearing multiple hats, she is the Institution’s Research Culture Lead and an Associate Professor. Her research is focused on groups that experience multiple deprivation – the homeless, women who are survivors of violence and abuse, the elderly and looked after children. She currently holds two Fellowships, a British Academy Innovation Fellowship which looks at using mobility trackers to understand how the homeless spend their time, and most recently a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Policy Fellowship which is hosted by the Centre for Homelessness Impact, and supported by the College of Policing, both What Works Centres.

In her spare time, she is also training to be a zookeeper specialising in big cat management. She loves wildlife and wants to eventually use more innovative research approaches to promoting animal conservation.

What does the term inspire inclusion mean to you?

For me, inclusivity is fostering a space where someone feels they can bring all themselves to the table, meaning there is a space that you have access to and you’re heard, you’re seen, and when absent you’re missed and accounted for. Inclusivity is the transparency and accessibility that you have if you want to be part of that conversation.

In Higher Education, we have very few examples of women from black and minority ethnic backgrounds sitting at the decision-making tables. In my experience, I have had to work with many white male- senior leaders, who have been very supportive of my career development. However, within this sector, sometimes unintentionally heavy male-dominated leadership can create an inherent ‘boys club’ and this can lead to indirect exclusion of women’s voices. So, as a woman, etching a career in research leadership, I try to create spaces that are mindful of these potential blocks. That can mean making sure that people understand how they can get involved, having transparency, openness, and accessibility to opportunities, and having that conversation with people where and when you can, or recommending that they speak to others and widen their network. So, inclusivity is about visibility, access and sharing.

Who and what has inspired you?

This can be a really challenging question to answer because inspiration hits you, often unexpectedly. I try to understand how and why someone or something has been inspirational. I’ve been fortunately raised and influenced by strong men in my life who never allowed me to believe that being a woman was an obstacle I could not challenge – this was just not a good enough excuse for missed opportunities or a significant lesson learnt. Through their guidance and nurturing I have come to appreciate the strength it takes as individuals to stand up for what you believe in, the courage to hold your end and be a bit fearless when it comes to chasing your goals. I’m really moved by seeing that light bulb moment in people.

When it comes to women, I’m continuously energised by the company of those who break the barriers despite the ‘you can’t’, ‘you won’t’, “you don’t”, when they push through those hurdles, that really is something to walk away with and go, wow. When black and minority ethnic women add the complexities of their lived experiences and having had to apologise for their cultural backgrounds, I find that kind of strength a powerhouse of ambition. The women who are my friends and family came out at the end of many experiences stronger, emancipated, independent and found their voice. It shouldn’t have to take these extreme circumstances to make women come out of their shells, but it does, and part of my ambition is to make sure those upcoming behind me do not have to feel alone, or afraid of having ambitious dreams and claiming their earned accolades.


This is part of a series of articles we’ll be sharing across March celebrating inspiring women in South London – check back for more soon.

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Posted 08/03/24

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