Statistician, Animal and Plant Health Agency
9 months in public service
My grandmother/mother was a…
My maternal grandmother and mother briefly worked as a council secretary and in an insurance office, respectively, before getting married. Both “married into” the French Armed Forces and gave up any professional aspirations they may have had to run households which were uprooted to a new garrison every couple of years and where fathers could be called in the middle of the night to go to work. My paternal grandmother on the other hand worked all her life, most of it in the village shop she owned with her husband, and she was also a good seamstress! I can remember as a little girl, my mother telling my sisters and me that as women we will have to work three times as hard just to get to the same “level” as men. My mother went to school until age 18 when she passed her French Baccalaureate, which was not the norm in the 60s. She was a major driving force behind sending my sisters and me to University (all of us left with at least Masters degrees), making huge financial sacrifices with my father to give us the career opportunities she perhaps wished she had.
Me in a paragraph
My official title is Flavie Vial BSc. (Hon) M.Res PhD CStat CSci… that’s a lot of letters after my name to define me! I obtained my Bachelor of Science, my Masters of Research and my PhD degrees from the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine at the University of Glasgow. A lot of money was spent with moving companies over the following six years as I embarked on my international academic career with the African Research Consortium on Population and Ecosystem Health in Côte d’Ivoire, the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London and Veterinary Public Health Institute in Switzerland. In 2016, I was offered a 6-months internship at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Sweden. It is while living in Stockholm that I decided to leave academia as it no longer corresponded to my vision of what work/life balance should be. Encouraged by my husband, I took the plunge and founded my own veterinary public health consulting business and worked with organisations across the globe from the comfort of our tiny spare room. After 6 years on the Continent, we decided to return to the UK as a family, so that’s how, after a taste of academia and consultancy, I took up a new challenge and joined the Civil Service in May 2017.
I am a statistician within APHA’s National Wildlife Management Centre. Statistics is the branch of mathematics that deals with the collection, organisation, analysis, and interpretation of numerical data. My role is to provide statistical support to the formulation and implementation of a range of policies from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), including critical areas such as bovine tuberculosis control in wildlife, invasive species management and veterinary scanning surveillance. Since October 2017, I also hold the status of Chartered Statistician with the Royal Statistical Society and of Chartered Scientist with the Science Council.
If I had a magic wand, what I would do to accelerate gender equality?
I would banish the use of the word “working mum”. Often brandished, by men and women alike, like some sort of badge of honour, I find this expression harmful to our quest for gender equality… or should we start referring to all men with families working outside the home as “working dads”? After all, they too have to juggle many balls at once! Why can’t we just be a woman/man/any gender type we identify with professional? I personally find it irrelevant to define people professionally by their family status, especially when there is an innate bias to only do so only for one gender. At the end of the day, we are all working sons/daughters/wives/husbands/partners/ carers.
Anything else you’d like to say
Alice Paul, American suffragist, feminist, and women's rights activist, famously said: “I always feel the movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end."
So let’s keep looking around us for pieces of coloured stones we can add to this ever evolving mural.