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Dr Joanna de Groot (University of York)

Election address

I am delighted to be standing for election as an HE women members' representative. To be elected to our NEC in this role will be a wonderful opportunity to use my existing union experience to progress the needs and interests of women members. I am a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of York, and a long-term union activist there, having been at various times branch secretary, branch president and JNCC negotiator [currently joint President and JNCC team member]. As an activist at York I have helped to pioneer university action on sexual harassment, have participated in joint working on gender issues ranging from childcare to research issues, and am currently progressing work on the gender pay gap. I have also worked as an elected UK negotiator on gender pay inequity and casualisation.

I have been inspired to see how these issues are now involving growing new groups of members in campaigning, taking them beyond small groups of enthusiasts. Many more of us now grasp the deep connections between gender inequity, casualised working, and other inequalities and exploitations in our workplaces, and are taking action to change them. I draw on these crucial developments in UCU, as well as on my union experience and my academic work in history and Women's Studies, to do my best for members.

My union work at York and on our NEC [as a member since 2009, UK officer 2014-18] has taught me how to work with colleagues of many views, building on our common commitment to members' interests rather than engaging in divisive sectional politics. It has taught me to focus our struggles on advancing those interests through effective action, mobilising members on the ground both by expressing their aspirations and by offering prospects of substantive results. Disputes are powerful means to be used to make gains for members, not ends in themselves. 

I see that the task of all of us is to build committed support throughout our membership to advance the progressive goals of equity, justice, and decent treatment of staff, and fight for post-school institutions whose core purpose is the making and sharing of knowledge, not profit or market success. Such support is the crucial basis for effective action based on clear and focussed aims, well understood tactics, and unity across different parts of the union. In addition to keeping the interests of women members at the centre of our activities, I will work as a non-party progressive activist to help our NEC and HEC make these approaches central to our debates and decisions.

I seek your vote as someone who can contribute constructively to our NEC, and also urge you to vote for Janet Farrar for Vice President.

Last updated: 29 January 2020