Robert Farley (he / him)
Head of Medical Physics & Engineering, (Consultant Clinical Scientist, Radiotherapy Physics) Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Where on the LGBTQ+ spectrum do you identify?
Gay, although I also use the term queer.
What does your work involve?
I am responsible for ensuring robust governance and providing strategic direction for a large Medical Physics & Engineering Department comprising Radiological Physics & Radiation Protection, Radiotherapy Physics, Clinical Engineering, Scientific Computing, Radiotherapy Physics, Radionuclide & MRI Physics. I also look after the trust's medical and scientific equipment capital procurement programme.
What challenges have you faced being LGBTQ+? Bit of personal history maybe?
I guess this can be answered on two levels. My personal challenge is that of growing up in the 1970s and 80s as an LGBTQ+ person with no point of reference to my own identity or positive / any role models; but knowing I was different and it still surprises me how much of an impact that still has in my life today. To some extent the personal challenge today is how to be my LGBTQ+ self in a professional context. I'm still working on this and not entirely sure that I have got it quite right yet.
In a professional sense, there are many challenges, but one that I often encounter is that of helping cis-straight people understand that a person's sexual orientation and gender identity are very relevant to the workplace. It's surprising how often that you hear that these are of no relevance.
What changes could be made to achieve a more inclusive work environment?
It's often really little things that can make a big difference: use of gender neutral language and people routinely describing their pronouns would make a significant difference to start with. There is also something about visibility and representation so it would be good to see more use of same-sex families on posters and in leaflets in a healthcare setting.
What is IPEM doing well for the LGBTQ+ community and its members? What should / could IPEM be doing to increase LGBTQ+ inclusion?I There is more that IPEM could be doing itself, for instance for more inclusive meetings and events, when they become in-person again, such as name badges with pronouns on, all-gender facilities etc. In addition IPEM could develop provide more guidance on the role that Medical Physics and Engineering professions have in creating more inclusive environments in the workplace and healthcare more generally. I think that, given the nature of our work, it has a role in ensuring that devices and particularly clinical software are more inclusive; how often does software have just 'male' or 'female' as gender options..
What do you think that the medical physics profession could learn from the LGBTQ+ community and their experiences?
I think that the LGBTQ+ community and the Medical Physics & Engineering community are quite similar in that they are small and a minority made up many smaller minorities. The LGBTQ+ community have a long history of the different identities providing support to each other and working together to achieve significant change and perhaps there is something here that the MPCE professional community could learn from.
Anything else to add?
It would be great to see the IPEM flag at a pride event one day...