I’m really looking forward to becoming the BPS’s 81st President when I take over from Dot Miell in May.
However, a quick bit of research tells me that in the first fifty years of BPS Presidents, only two of them (Beatrice Edgell 1929-1932, and Grace Rawlings 1966-1967) were women. Since then there have been a further 11, (May Davidson 1976-1977, Ann Colley 1993-1994 and now the Society’s Chief Executive, Margaret McAllister 1996-1997, Ingrid Lunt 1998-1998, Pat Frankish 1999-2000, Vikki Bruce 2001-2002, Pam Maras 2007-2008, Liz Campbell 2008-2009, Sue Gardner 2009-2010, Carole Allan 2011-2012 and Dot Miell 2014-2015), and the last ten of these have been Presidents, alongside 15 men, in the past twenty five years. The trend towards a greater likelihood of having a woman president these days is therefore much improved from how it was – although the fact that there have been 67 men and only 13 women over the history of the Society so far tells us that we have a long way still to go.
It’s not just a matter of how things are at the top though. From current figures, female entrants to the profession outnumber males by almost four to one and this situation holds all the way through undergraduate training through to those gaining psychology degrees and remains the case for the proportion of women chartered psychologists to men. But then it all goes wrong. The ratio of women associate fellows to men is only three to two and women fellows are outnumbered four to one by men. The gender balance has therefore completely reversed in favour of the previous situation by the time that people move into senior positions within the profession.
One of my aims, therefore, as incoming President, is to try to move the Society towards one where there is greater access, inclusivity and transparency for all. All important aspirations, but I also want the BPS to be a professional body which looks outside itself far more than it has done over recent years. I should like to seek to fight, in the limited time available to me, for a much higher profile for our organisation, a stronger voice in the media and elsewhere,and much greater influence on policy and practice. In summary – Integrity, inclusivity, and influence to build our profile, our voice, our organisation and our future.
And to do this, I’ll need all your help. We’re going to have a rolling profile media output – in the Psychologist, in PsychCrunch, in the President’s Column and in scheduled press releases – so that we can showcase different areas of psychology, and of our study, research and work, every month. Gender, as a topic, is scheduled for October, for example, while Pregnancy, Birth, Children and Childlessness are planned for January. I’d also like us to be making regular press statements, with experts in whichever field is in the spotlight speaking alongside me as a member of a President’s panel , so that we can all be much more visible and vocal about our field, as well as reacting quickly and authoritatively to issues as they develop.
And alongside all this, we’re in the midst of reviewing our member networks to see if we can come up with a structure that helps us to do all of this more effectively and which cuts down all the present barriers which divide us. Please contact me whenever you like between now and May via firstname.lastname@example.org (there will be a BPS email address that you can reach me on from May onwards, and I’m usually on Twitter, apart from a couple of regular scheduled breaks every year, on @profjamiehh I’m much looking forward to the journey, and to having all of you on board with me. And I’m really looking forward to coming along to your Section Conference too.
Jamie Hacker Hughes, BPS President Elect