Professor Kate Pickett is Professor of Epidemiology at the University of York, where she leads the Public Health & Society research group in the Department of Health Sciences and acts as Associate Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity. Kate is also an academic co-director of Health Equity North. She was awarded an OBE in 2023 for services to societal equality.
What do you enjoy most about working in your sector?
Having a sense of purpose, working for greater health and wellbeing, equality and social justice. I’m privileged to have a role that gives me fulfilment at the same time as contributing to a better society. I also work in a sector that is overwhelmingly occupied by genuinely lovely, caring and interesting people – so being at work is a pleasure.
How important is innovation within your sector?
Innovation comes in different forms. Of course, sometimes we are discovering new things and creating knowledge, but just as important are innovations in the way we communicate research. Sometimes the best ways to improve population health are not new discoveries, it’s just that we haven’t yet found a way to engage the public, policy makers or politicians to create change.
What professional achievement are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the support that I’ve been able to give to others – PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, colleagues and mentees – building capacity and capability in public health is really important and it’s wonderful to see others developing independence in their research.
What are the challenges of being a woman working in your sector?
I work in a discipline and field that has a lot of women, including at the very top, so there are lots of inspiring role models to look to. But as in all sectors, the practical realities of being a woman are always present – there is still a gender pay gap, and motherhood and caring premiums often pose additional challenges to women.
What advice would you give to other women working in your sector?
Collegiality is a win-win in a competitive sector.
What would you say were the key challenges in your sector that currently prevent innovation moving forward?
The biggest challenge to innovation and progress in improving the health and wellbeing of the population is the lack of resource, austerity policies and the cost of living crisis, that have undermined public health. We need investment for the transformative changes that we know will pay off in the short and long term.
Do you find any particular challenges as a woman working in the North of England?
It can be heartbreaking to see the statistics that show deep inequalities between the North of England and the rest of the country, but we’re blessed with great resources of expertise and experience in the North and we’re good at bringing those together to advocate for change.
Professor Kate Pickett, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of York and Academic co-director of Health Equity North. You can follow Kate at @ProfKEPickett the University of York at @UniofYork and Health Equity North at @_HENorth
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