Photo:

Louise Pendry

My Interview

Me and my work

I’m mum to two girls, now 16 and 9, and live in the beautiful Devon countryside with my partner, aged Labrador, cat and guinea pig. I’m a senior lecturer in Psychology at Exeter Uni.

My Typical Day

No two days are alike, but after the school run, typically they will involve some combination of: lecturing/tutorials/seminars to undergraduate and postgraduate students, a healthy dollop of admin (including a lot of pastoral work), and hopefully time for some research (writing grants, submitting papers). Then back home to concoct some kind of evening meal with my partner and spend time with my family.

What's the best work related thing you've done?

I think my online forum research is what I’m most proud of. It started out as a germ of an idea that arose from my experiences with parenting/using cloth nappies, and led to a research grant, publications and quite a bit of media interest. Getting my research out beyond academia to real people is something that increasingly matters to me.

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Impatient, sensitive, friendly.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Only one thing? Seriously? That’s hard. Nope, I can’t just say one thing. Stuff I’ve done with my family – narrowboating with my partner before we had kids, bombing around Paris with my older daughter recently, any nature activity with my little girl  (especially birdwatching, which we both love) and the joy of teaching her how to knit (and knitting in general  – I make seriously mad tea cosies). That’s way more than one thing. Sorry.

Who or what inspired you to do the work you're doing now?

Most of my current research strands have evolved because of stuff that has been happening in my life. For example, a few years back I got into using cloth nappies with my second daughter, and this led me down two paths. First, I wanted to research more about the area and better understand people’s reasons for using/not using them, so I did quite a bit of qualitative research on this. Second, because most people in my community thought I was bonkers to want to use cloth nappies, I realised I needed to get advice elsewhere, and that’s when I discovered and began to use online discussion forums for parents also using cloth nappies. Using these made me realise that people can get a lot more out of forums than just information. In my case the community I joined enabled me to become more engaged in this issue offline (e.g., giving demos at local antenatal classes, becoming an agent for a cloth nappy retailer, appearing on local radio/newspapers in Cloth Nappy Week). This was really not like me, or so I thought! Somehow I found the process of engaging in forums quite transformational. I wondered if it was just me or whether there was some broader issue here. So I decided to research this and was lucky to get grant funding to do so. Turns out it is not just me – online communities can be a very powerful way of empowering people (and not only on parenting forums)! More recently my research stays with this online community aspect but has branched out into other areas (e.g., looking at closed groups on Facebook, and a broader range of groups.)  Again, linking in my own interests is key, so some of the groups we will study are ones linked to embracing/changing identities (like getting older, which I most certainly am). I love that I get to research the stuff that matters to me, and that hopefully also has practical value.