Spotlight on International Women’s Day 2024 – Megan Barker, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Higher Education student and Graduate Teaching Assistant, Megan Barker, talks to us about her role, ambitions and celebrating and what International Women’s Day means to her.

Can you tell me about your journey to pursuing your degree in Wildlife & Conservation, and what inspired you to choose this path?

Initially I started off on the Animal Behaviour and Welfare pathway as I realised I wanted to work with animals in some capacity. In my first year of my Foundation Degree, I was awarded the Young Darwin Scholarship by the Field Studies Council. This included a week-long residential trip to practice a wide range of field and identification skills, along with ongoing career support and advice, and cemented my interest in nature.

This led me to undertake work experience with a ecological consultancy in my second year. It was during this time that I truly fell in love with the field of wildlife and conservation.

Now, my goal is to continue my education and transition into a career in ecological consultancy where I can help develop a greener, more sustainable future for everyone, both human and animal alike.

HE student and Graduate Teaching Assistant

What have been some of the most rewarding aspects of your Higher Education journey so far?

One of the most rewarding aspects of my higher education journey has been the confidence I have gained in my own abilities.

Through academic challenges and practical experiences, my confidence has improved both academically and professionally. I’ve learnt important skills that will be valuable in industry, and I know I can address any gaps in my understanding.

Additionally, the range of opportunities to try new things and take on new responsibilities has been great. For example, acting as a Student Representative has allowed me to step into a leadership role, collaborate with peers and contribute to the Higher Education department.


How do you balance your responsibilities as a student with your role as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and what skills have you developed through this?

If you ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you ‘organised’ might as well be my middle name. I’m always making to-do lists for every aspect of my life, including both university tasks and work.

This helps me stay on top of everything and prioritise based on deadlines and importance. I’ve also improved in being adaptable, as being flexible has been important in adjusting my workload or priorities to assist other staff members whenever needed.


As we celebrate International Women’s Day, how do you feel your degree programme and experiences have empowered you as a woman in your field, and what message would you like to share with other aspiring female students?

Being part of a supportive and inclusive academic community has been incredibly empowering.

I’ve had mentors and peers who have encouraged and supported me, helping me overcome challenges and grow.

In fields like science, where men often dominate, it can be tough for women to feel heard. Believing in yourself is the number one thing I would say to anyone. Your passion and interests are vital for driving progress in science and conservation.

Everyone brings a unique perspective and valuable contributions to the table. I’ve discovered that my voice matters, and my contributions are essential for making a difference, both in my studies and in the wider field.