Celebrating International Women’s Day

Our talented women


A 2013 research study showed that “Women are less likely than men to be associated with leadership, and the awareness of this stereotype may undermine women's performance in leadership tasks. One way to circumvent this stereotype threat is to expose women to highly successful female role models.”

We have lots of talented individuals at Exeter, both male and female. Seeing someone achieve what you aspire to can help you achieve your own goals and ambitions. Among a selection of inspiring individuals at different stages and levels of their careers, our Centre Co-Directors, Anna Mountford-Zimdars and Nicola Sinclair, were recognised. Here is their story:

Professor Anna Mountford-Zimdars and Nicola Sinclair
Co-Directors of the Centre for Social Mobility

Nicola Sinclair took up the role of Head of Widening Participation and UK Student Recruitment in October 2016. Under her leadership, the team has developed sector leading approaches to fair access; transformed our evidence base and use of management intelligence; introduced new provision for student carers, care leavers and estranged students; developed cross-institutional approaches to improving access and outcomes for students; and improved significantly the University’s reputation for its work in widening participation.

Anna Mountford-Zimdars joined the University of Exeter in 2017 in response to a world-wide open call for founding and directing a new research Centre in the Graduate School of Education around issues of access and fairness. She had to come for her selection interview to Exeter with five months old twins in tow but: “This was the perfect job description – if I could have written my own job, this is the one I would have chosen, so I went for this opportunity in the middle of my maternity leave”.  

Nicola and Anna’s first meeting was a meeting of minds and visions. Both are driven by the overall value to enhance fairness in access to, success within, and progress beyond higher education and to conduct their own practices in line with these values. Both search for enhancing the theoretical basis and evidence-base of work to feed into stronger, evidence-based practice that maximises impact, reaches more disadvantaged students and makes higher education fairer.  

Jointly, they founded the UK’s first Centre for Social Mobility in June 2018. Their first Centre conference attracted as many academics as practitioners and they continue to build a community of research-informed practice and practice-informed-research.