We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Let's Network

Mothers and Mothers-to-be Support (MAMS) Network

The MAMS Network is excited to announce the launch of our research report "The impact of Covid-19 on mothers working in UK Higher Education Institutions" available HERE.

The MAMS network received funding from the QR Strategic Priorities Fund from Research England to explore the experiences of mothers working in Higher Education across the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic. The study surveyed 2,888 mums in March 2021 during the third UK lockdown. Acknowledging the challenge of the intersection of gender and childcare for those working in our sector, it looks at how the pandemic impacted mums' careers, health and wellbeing, and the specifics of what meaningful support was offered. In conjunction with interviews with senior leaders at seven UK HEI's, the study also identifies areas of good practice in supporting working mums and makes recommendations for moving forward.

We will soon be embarking on further analysis of our data to understand more about how mums in different circumstances were impacted by the pandemic.

We welcome your thoughts and comments on this important work! Please do get in touch.

Please see here for our short video overview of the report! If you would like a video with an audio overlay, please click here.

What is the MAMS Network?

The MAMS Network exists for members who are mothers and expectant mothers at the University. Our membership is drawn from across the University's departments and divisions, covering both staff and students. We meet informally at least once a term and keep in touch via email updates and a Facebook page.

Activities include:

  • Informal social events, such as bring your own lunch meet-ups where sweet treats are provided. These are on a drop-in basis and there is no obligation to attend every one– feel free to drop in if you can! Those who are on maternity leave are very welcome to attend (and it is an excellent opportunity to eat lunch with both hands as there are always willing volunteers to help with babies!)

  • Hosting invited speakers on parenting and women’s issues

  • Providing peer support and advice on issues relating to returning to work after maternity leave

  • Breastfeeding advice and support

  • Offering the views of mothers who are staff to the University on diversity related topics when required

  • Input to the University's Athena Swan accreditation when required.

  • Providing peer support in pregnancy

  • An informal buddy pairing service should you wish tobe connected withanother MAMS member

MAMS Network and COVID19

In these unusual times, the MAMS Network has adapted and although we cannot meet inpersonwe are still very much active and welcome you to join us!

Whilst we are working and studying from home where possible, we hold regular meet-ups online every other week, and we continue to advocate for parental and EDI issues. Since May 2020, we have held online coffee meet-ups every other Wednesday afternoon. These informal video meetings held via Microsoft Teams enable the membership to stay in touch, offer each other peer support and share a funny story or two (and working and studying from home with children has provided quite a few!). Additionally, the membership has agreed to hold a regular evening meet up to provide additional avenues for staff and students to keep in touch. Ultimately, as we all support each other to work and study during these unprecedented times, the network remains committed to utilising technology and finding innovative ways to support each other as best we can. If you have any ideas of how we can enhance this please do get in touch!

How does the MAMS Network communicate?

The MAMS network sends regular, timely communications to members. These updates include information about scheduled meet-ups or discussions, news on university events and initiatives of interest to the membership, and events promoted by other staff networks. We also occasionally present questions that constitute part of informal and formal university consultations. Event invitations are typically sent via email in the first instance, but we can also be found on Facebook. Members are welcome to promote non-university events and share other useful information there:

We also have a DUO module and mailing list. Please email Michelle Dixonto be added to the mailing list and DUO module.

In addition to communicating with the membership as a whole, individual members are welcome to contact anyone on the organization team to ask a question, request assistance or support, or suggest an activity.

What is the membership of the MAMS Network?

Membership of the network is wide and varied, currently including members who are academic staff from all four faculties, as well as professional support departments. We also welcome students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, to come for pregnancy and parenting peer support. Our membership is ever-growing and we are always keen to welcome new members. Motherhood is a journey and we like to think it’s a little bit easier when you know others in a similar situation. If you are pregnant, a new mum, or a mum of children of any age we can offer you something. Get in touch and we will be pleased to see you!

How can I join MAMS?

Email Michelle Dixon to be added to the mailing list and DUO module.

Who runs the MAMS network?

The MAMS network is currently organised by the following staff members who are here to help:


Role at Durham

MAMS network info

Sarah Atkinson

I am a member of the Student Registry team within the Academic Office. We deliver a variety of student focused services, including monitoring and maintaining student data.

I have recently joined the MAMS network and am looking forward to helping to support and develop the network further. I help set up the network’s electronic communications and online events. I have two school age children.

Ashley Callard

I am a member of the Access and Engagement Team which sits within the Professional Support Services section of the University. We work to support the delivery of the University’s Access and Participation Plan.

I support the MAMS network planning group too organise events for the membership and have been a member of the MAMS group since I had my first child in 2015. I have three children and work part time. I am happy to answer questions or offer tips about breastfeeding and expressing when returning to work, having done this following each of my maternity leaves.

Michelle Dixon

I am part of the Partnerships and Engagement team within Research and Innovation Services (RIS). We work with external organisations and our academic colleagues to facilitate new research and commercial opportunities for the University.

I co-chair the MAMS network and have been a member myself since the network started in 2014. I manage the MAMS mailing list which involves joining new members and also help organise events for the network. I have 2 school age children and currently work part-time.

Gosia Jakimow

I am an Assistant Professor in East Asian Politics, based in School of Government and International Affairs.

I have been a member of MAMS since joining the university in 2018. I was pregnant then and found MAMS extremely helpful socially, as well as sharing information and assistance with work-related aspects. I support MAMS by promoting the network through posts on Dialogue and among other MAMS.

Fire Kovarovic

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, where I specialise in human evolution and palaeoecology. I’m also an elected member of Senate, representing the Academic Electoral Assembly (all academic staff Grade 7 and above).

I joined MAMS when I had my daughter in 2014 and have taken an active role in co-organising the network since my son was born in 2016. I help organise our termly events and other activities, communicate with the membership, and represent the network’s interests at Senate and in other forums. I am happy to offer support and advice to anyone, or point you in the direction of someone who can help!

Sarah Woodroffe

I am an Associate Professor in the Geography Department, and my area of research is past sea-level and environmental changes.

I have been a member of MAMS since it was started in 2014. I have three children, two at school and am currently on maternity leave looking after my third. I monitor our Facebook page and help organize activities. I can offer peer support on juggling an academic career and motherhood!

If you would like to get involved in supporting the running of the group, or wish to host or propose an activity, please contact us for more information.

Staff Testimonials

"I joined the MAMS network when I was pregnant with my first child in 2015. I didn’t know many people who had children and was fairly new in my career so was keen to find some peer support to help me navigate the changes I was about to face. Since I joined the network, I have been lucky enough to have two further children and having informal peer support during pregnancy, maternity leave and following my return to work has been very welcomed and much appreciated. I have been able to get to know staff from across the University, share hints and tips and have gained another form of support to help me navigate the rollercoaster ride that is motherhood. I also greatly enjoy the cake we have at our lunch events."

Ashley Callard, Access and Engagement Officer, Mother of three under five

MAMS Network

MAMS Network

Views: 263

Find out more about our MAMs network and how you can join

Shared parental leave

Shared parental leave

Views: 169

Hear some of our dads talk about the benefits of shared parental leave