Griffith academics can sometimes be found pursuing projects outside of their specialisation. We spoke to one such academic, dentist-turned-lecturer Dr Jane Manakil, who has recently co-edited a book about the experiences of women in academia. A fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA UK) and member of Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons in Periodontics (MRACDS-Periodontics), she has recently been selected to become a member of the Faculty of Dental Trainers, Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. As part of her work, Dr Manakil has also created the Dental Compendium, an online discipline-based e-tool for dental students.
Tell us about your position as a Senior Lecturer in Dentistry at Griffith University
I initially joined GU in 2007, wanting to contribute to the new and exciting dental program, supervising in labs and clinics. My teaching philosophy has evolved over three decades in accordance with the diverse professional and societal expectations in competence and learning outcomes for dental graduands. My clinical vision is in the holistic care of the patient, although I hold a specialist qualification (MDS) and have a passion in the field of Periodontics (Gum /supporting structure of teeth & disease). I’m also privileged in being able to provide clinical service in the management of complex patients referred by students, and dental professionals. This is very important as it provides continuity of care for patients requiring complex treatment and specialist care at Griffith. It also showcases the dental clinic as a center of excellence in clinical treatment, and education through my specialist skills and expertise while participating in community care.
What advice can you give to people who are interested in a career as a teacher in the dental or health sciences?
It is a rewarding journey to traverse with students, developing them from basic theory and simulation labs to managing various oral disease conditions of patients within the dental clinics. The field of dentistry is highly challenging as each dental student needs to develop knowledge, application and develop hand skills in delivering treatment. These skills will transition into management of pain or function and/or aesthetic for the care of the patient.
‘Translating all the various discipline expertise to the students as they develop each year can be gratifying as you watch the growth from a novice to a clinician.’
You have recently released a book with three other academics including Michelle Ronksley-Pavia (also from Griffith) titled Academic women: Voicing narratives of gendered experiences. Can you tell us about your interest in this topic, and how you came to put this book together with contributions from other academics from around the world?
I co-edited the book titled Academic women: Voicing narratives of gendered experiences which was published in February 2023. The chapters provide an important insight into individual and collective contemporary women’s experiences in academia from international perspectives, such as gender equity, barriers to success, and achievement. This comprehensive volume provides a reference point for all women and their colleagues working in universities and colleges across the world. The chapters aim to reclaim academia for those that do not fit into stereotypical images. It presents refreshing accounts of different women’s experiences in academia, employing an intersectional lens from all over the globe and helps to create a dialogue around an inclusive academia.
The book was the brainchild of a group we formed in 2019 called ‘Connecting Academic Women’, as a way of connecting and discussing life as an academic woman. During Covid times we depended a lot on online platforms to reach other academic women internationally. Our UK based co-editor Dr Kelly Pickard-Smith is a co-founder of the Women In Academia Support Network (WIASN). To find contributors, we put out an expression of interest, reaching out to people via the international networks we had built using Facebook and LinkedIn.
How would you summarise the position of women in academia at this point in time, and what do you think can be done to help achieve gender equality in academia into the future?
Globally—according to UNESCO—women outnumber men as tertiary education students and represent more than 45% of teachers in tertiary education in 2020, a jump of 10% from 1990. Nevertheless, in most of the countries worldwide, there is a decline in representation of women as academic ranks progress and few women reach senior and leadership positions within higher education institutions. To support women, governments need to complement general gender policies for the society as a whole, promoting work-life balance, addressing equal pay and other issues, with specific policy instruments for higher education with a long-term approach.
‘Gender bias devalues all of us and it is a tremendous waste of the world’s human potential.’
Together we can eradicate prejudice and work for equal rights and respect for all in pursuit of Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality.
What advice can you offer for people who would like to collaborate with others as editors or authors of a substantial academic work such as this?
An editor must be creative and must have excellent interpersonal and team skills. When selecting a topic be curious, amalgamate knowledge in the topic, use your judgement in selecting personnel, passionate about the topic. A substantial academic work requires creative skills to think up new ideas, financial skills to manage time and budget, language/ writing skills and computer skills.
‘Creativity, fun and humour gives you the fuel to burn through long hours and reach the set goal: completion of chapters to a book of vision and excellence.’
Jane’s book Academic women: Voicing narratives of gendered experiences is available for Griffith staff and students to read as an ebook via the Griffith catalogue, or you can purchase a copy through the publisher’s website.
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