Interview with visiting professor Cate Thomas

By Arzu Maharramova

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Shaping Social Work Education and Promoting Equality: An Interview with Cate Thomas

As part of our investigation, we posed a set of questions to her, aiming to gain further clarity.

  1. Can you share an achievement you are particularly proud of? How has it influenced your career and approach to education?

“The biggest achievement I am proud of is receiving the 'Social Work Educator of the Year' award. This achievement is the proudest for me because it signifies a significant change in the way we teach Social Work in Australia. It's not just about me; it's about every future social work practitioner.”

2. As someone passionate about gender equity, what are the major challenges you see for women in leadership positions, particularly in a distributed university in Australia?

"It is the wage gap for women. Even though men and women may have the same qualifications, men might start at a higher rate than women. This wage gap negatively impacts many women, deterring them from pursuing higher education. It creates a sense of unequal pay, which discourages them from entering such work environments. Also, there are leadership training for women in universities. I think it should be available to everyone, regardless of gender, rather than being exclusively offered to women."

3. You have received a Social Media Presence Award for raising awareness and debates around inclusion, advocacy, and social justice issues. How do you leverage social media platforms to engage and educate a wider audience on these important topics?

“ 3 main social media platforms I use are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. I strategically use LinkedIn to connect with professionals, allowing me to amplify my message and spark meaningful discussions.

If I can create that confidence and empower just for one person, I'm happy because I know that is making a difference. It's not about changing the whole world. If I can change one person's negative perceptions or give one person empowerment, that is just amazing."

4. Can you tell us about your experience lecturing in Brno, and what were some of the highlights of your visit?

“There were some really great things that I have learned here, especially in terms of supporting students, that we don't do as well in Australia. Overall, it has been a fantastic opportunity for me to engage with students, meet Ph.D. students, and explore further cooperation with Masaryk University. We have a memorandum of understanding between our two universities, so it's about finding ways to collaborate and create innovative teaching methods and international opportunities for students.”

5. How important do you think it is for academics to participate in international exchange programs and collaborate with scholars from different parts of the world?

“If we don't give any academic a chance to explore internationally, then we become very, what I call, insular. The blinkers go on, and we only see this particular area in this particular pattern. That is not reality. We know that our friends here in Masaryk have some particularly brilliant work happening around leadership and human resources aspect. They got some really, great work happening in there. We may not be as advanced in that area, but we are advancing in other areas. So, it's about how we complement our skills, talents, and knowledge, coming together and having more impact more broadly.”

6. Finally, can you share any upcoming international speaking engagements or research collaborations that you have planned?

"At the moment, I am serving as the chief editor for a special edition in a journal called ‘Sociologia Ruralis’, based in Europe. We are putting together a special edition focused on intersectionality and rurality, exploring the intersections of place and space. We have invited academics from around the globe to contribute to this edition, which will consist of about 12 different articles. This international conference will focus on gender and the power of education. It is scheduled for next year, and I encourage any doctoral students or individuals interested in the field of gender and education to keep an eye out for more information on the Charles Sturt University website and the Gender and Education Association's page, which is UK-based. This conference aims to empower the next generation of practitioners and emphasizes the need for action and creating change. It will be a significant event."

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Cate Thomas for taking the time to share her accomplishments, perspectives, and experiences with us. Her dedication to social work education, commitment to fostering positive change, and compassionate approach toward online interactions serve as an inspiration to many. We are grateful for her valuable insights and contributions to the fields of health, human services, and education. Thank you, Cate, for your generosity in sharing your knowledge and making a difference in the academic community.



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