Heriot-Watt marks International Women's Day 2023



International Women's Day 2023

On International Women’s Day 2023, Heriot-Watt University is reflecting on the outstanding achievements of all the women across its global community.  

In celebration, the University has highlighted some of the key news stories over the last year where women are making a difference.

As a University, our ambition is expressed through Strategy 2025 to create flourishing communities for all, and global connectivity across our different cultures and locations underpinned by our values to create belonging, celebration, inspiration and collaboration.  These successes tell our story.   

Leading women; celebrating achievement

During 2022, 14 people were promoted across the University to Professorial level, half of whom were women. This included Deputy Principal Professor Gill Murray, Professor Annie Hill and Professor Bing Xu. 

Professor Jemina Napier was appointed as Associate Principal (Research Culture and People) and Professor Gabi Medero was appointed as Associate Principal for Enterprise. Professor Medero was also named in the Top 50 Women in Engineering (WE50) and is co-founder of the clean tech company Kenoteq which creates sustainable products for the construction industry.  

During the University’s Winter Graduation ceremonies, there were numerous examples of inspiring student achievement. Among them was Nahed Mansour, a refugee and humanitarian who completed an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) having completed her studies from her home at the Beddawi Refugee Camp in Tripoli, north Lebanon. 

In September, the Dubai Campus welcomed Professor Dame Heather McGregor as its new Provost and Vice Principal. Previously the Executive Dean of the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, as well as Professor of Management Practice, Professor McGregor is a qualified accountant and had an earlier career in investment banking, and then spent 17 years as an entrepreneur leading her own executive search firm prior to her move into higher education. 

This was followed just two months later when the distinguished businesswoman Dr. Raja Easa Al Gurg, Chairperson and Managing Director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, was appointed as the first Pro-Chancellor in Dubai. As Pro Chancellor, Dr Al Gurg plays a leading role for the University in the region, representing Heriot-Watt in a ceremonial and ambassadorial capacity, including in the conferment of degrees.  

There were similar celebrations in Malaysia, where Professor Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood was installed as its first Pro-Chancellor. Professor Mahmood is a distinguished health professional, humanitarian, and development leader. She has dedicated her career to healing others, working in the health sector for over 30 years as an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, and as a humanitarian activist for over 20 years. Professor Mahmood was the driving force behind the establishment of MERCY Malaysia in 1999, the most successful humanitarian organisation that works both at home and abroad. 

In Edinburgh, the Reverend Jane Howitt joined Heriot-Watt as its new Chaplain, providing spiritual support to staff and students and playing a key role leading the development of the chaplaincy as part of our flourishing communities, welcoming those of faith or of none into the Heriot-Watt community.  

In the summer, Professor Sara Lombardo, a leading international figure in mathematics and advocate of equality, diversity and inclusion, was appointed as Executive Dean of the School of Mathematical & Computer Sciences (MACS).  Professor Lombardo is also Chair of the EPSRC's Mathematical Sciences Strategic Advisory Team and has a wealth of experience in leadership and management roles in higher education.  

International Women's Day 2023

The University is committed to advancing gender equality and is actively working to create an inclusive environment where people of all sex and gender identities feel welcome and supported and can realise their full potential. 

Reflecting further on International Women’s Day and Heriot-Watt’s role, Ruth Moir, University Secretary, said: “International Women’s Day is an opportunity for our community to reflect on the incredible achievements of our female staff, students and academics. We are ‘one University’ with global reach across our locations and equality, diversity and inclusion are an exciting and dynamic part of the identity of Heriot-Watt. 

“We know that tackling inequality remains a challenge but at our university we are fully committed to creating a fairer society for all and the work of our Global Equality Diversity and Inclusion Board is providing a focal point for developing our policy and practice to ensure that we progressively turn our commitments into best practice, allowing all members of our community to flourish.”  

 This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity and is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. 


Craig McManamon

Job title
Communications officer