International Women's Day 2017


Meet Helen Baker - a keen photographer and poet who manages research at JNCCJNCC's Helen Baker attending a Natural Capital event on Ascension.


Q) What is your role at JNCC?

My job title is research manager, but I’m currently involved in both UK and international activities and projects that probably don’t match this job title. Along with a couple of colleagues I provide a coordination role for the SNCB Chief Scientists, preparing meeting agendas, collating papers, taking minutes and communicating feedback to staff on decisions. I manage a couple of projects, including one funded by Defra through the CSSF to undertake natural capital assessments in the UK Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic. I also manage JNCC inputs into the EU project BiodivERsA, which is a long-term collaboration between research councils and other partners from most European countries supporting strategic research. I also have oversight of the JNCC contribution to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, supporting the ACAP officer and guiding expert inputs. At a more operational level, I lead on the evidence quality assurance policy in JNCC.  


Q) Your dreams and ambitions - complete the sentence "One day, I will....."

Write more poetry, do more writing and drawing, and take more photographs. I love being out in the countryside and doing arty things that draw on my day to day experiences of our great outdoors. I would also like to get more involved in helping local businesses to take sustainable management steps that embed an understanding of the value of nature; I would like to set up a small charity to do that. 


Q) What advice would you give to your younger self?

Be more independent and take more risks, and seek out more opportunities to work abroad – understanding diversity in human culture and values is key to nature conservation and you can only do that if you go, live and learn.


Q) Which positive female role models do you admire?

All of them. The works and lives of many post-war female biologists, like Rachel Carson, had an important influence on me and my female cohort at university. And, as an activist, I have huge admiration for the women who gave me the right to vote, and since then the right to be almost equal with my male peers.


Q) What do you think is the biggest issue affecting women around the world today?

It’s hard to pick one, but I think belief systems or societal governance that do not give women the right to make decisions for themselves or to be part of societal decision making are still a major constraint.