International Women’s Day 2021 - 8 March 2021

8th March 2021

Today is International Women’s Day. To celebrate the day we have been in contact with some of the inspiring women involved in BASES.

This article gives an insight on how a number of inspirational women got involved with BASES and what advice they would give to our members. We will hear from the first ever female BASES Chair-Elect, Prof Zoe Knowles FBASES, a BASES Expert Statement Author, Prof Dr Kirsty Elliott-Sale, and the Chair of the BASES Accreditation Committee Dr Sarah Gilchrist FBASES, HPSA.

z_knowles_ljmu_photo1Name: Prof Zoe Knowles FBASES

BASES Role: Chair-Elect (2020), formerly Chair of the Psychology Division, Co-Lead on the Sport and Exercise Psychology Accreditation Route (SEPAR). Will become the first BASES female Chair in November 2021.

How have you got to where you are today?

“That’s an interesting question and one that started with distinctly average A level results then being inspired by great lecturers at LJMU (Liverpool John Moores University), opportunities taken (when others didn’t see value) and determination to succeed in a sector that was traditionally underrepresented by females. My role at LJMU is varied and I like that from applied practice in sport and exercise psychology, to working with Eureka Mersey, research and then my work with BASES. I made decisions along the way that supported a healthy work/life balance including ‘switching’ focus of research/applied practice being inspired by my own/their experiences including my children, partner within the armed forces and health challenges. Colleagues would say I have created many ‘firsts’ for the sector and at LJMU and have challenged conventional practices. I received excellent mentoring for which I am grateful and now pay this forward in supporting others. I was inspired by Prof Marie Murphy’s appointment as Chair of the REF (Research Excellence Framework) panel for the Sport and Exercise Sciences. I looked into female Chairs of BASES, noting there had been none to date, so I thought ‘well let’s change that’ and at least stand. It is a privilege to be the first female Chair-Elect of BASES.”

Advice you would give:

“The sport and exercise science sector provides a fantastic range of opportunities for women to make a difference every day. Whether you are providing support to elite athletes, the general public to be active, helping clinical patients or those with health challenges to recover, to develop talent or support communities with societal challenges, there is a career for you. Be determined, challenge conventional practice with evidence and with creativity and work collaboratively – this isn’t a sector you can be at your best working alone.”



Name: Dr Kirsty Elliott-Sale

BASES Role: BASES Expert Statement Author - The BASES Expert Statment on Conducting and Implementing Female Athlete Based Research

How have you got to where you are today?

“Hard work! I’m definitely not the smartest or brightest person you will meet in academia, but I am very hardworking. Being curious helps, and coupled with my love of sport and science, I think I have the perfect job. I’ve had a couple of major setbacks in my career, but by surrounding myself with trustworthy people, who support and challenge me, I have been able to move forwards despite these blips. I’ve learnt that when progress is slow, don’t cut corners or take the easy (less than) option, hold tight and things will come good again, better than before. People are everything – you can’t research alone. I’m very fortunate to have the best collaborators I could hope for. Lastly, I’ve learnt that being me is enough and I don’t need to hide my short-comings or my personal life. I’m happy for people to know that I’m a mum and that I’m married to another academic Prof Craig Sale. Some people will want to use these things against you, but these are not the type of people you want to work or concern yourself with. My best academic friends love the fact I’m married to another academic and have children and never try to belittle either of us on this basis.”

Advice you would give:

“Integrity, integrity, integrity. Have it, expect it, look for it. Sometimes it won’t make you popular, but it will attract like-minded people and will help you sleep at night.”



Name: Dr Sarah Gilchrist FBASES, HPSA

BASES Role: Chair of the BASES Accreditation Advisory Group

How have you got to where you are today?

“I’ve been in the sports science industry quite a while and have seen monumental changes not least in the British high performance sport system as a whole. I started getting experience supporting athletes during my MSc. and also did a placement during this time. Towards the end of my MSc. a role came up at Sport Wales as a Sports Science Officer working directly with funded athletes. Thankfully, I got the job. That led to a good few years supporting athletes from a number of sports both at home, training camps and competition. During this time the British high performance sporting landscape transformed substantially with the inception of UK Sport and following that, the EIS. At this stage in my career, I wanted a role working with a single sport, with some leadership responsibility too. Luckily, a role came up which I was successful in attaining and I transferred to the English Institute of Sport as a Technical Lead/Physiologist to British Rowing. I enjoyed this role through three Olympic & Paralympic cycles as I was not only was working with an incredibly successful team, but also managing a team of amazing practitioners and facilities. Through this time, I gained masses of experience in working with teams, athletes, coaches, managing and leading practitioners and completed my doctorate in sleep and athletic performance. This I’ve put to good use as currently I am a consultant in sleep and performance and sit on the Advisory board for The Sleep Charity.”

Advice you would give:

“Take every opportunity no matter how obscure it may seem. Never underestimate the power of networking and the paths that can potentially be created from meeting new people. There are lots of ways to gain experience in the skills needed as an applied practitioner. Key skills I’d suggest, in addition to the obvious technical skill set, are an ability to listen and ask pertinent questions, to stand your ground using evidence from robust scientific reasoning and where that’s not yet possible, use good communication and relationship building skills to work together with coaches, athletes and other athlete support personnel to help improve performance.”


‘To hear more from Sarah and see the short video she kindly made, please click here.

BASES members can also view the BASES Career Guide where we have several female job profiles written by professionals working in the Sport and Exercise sector, including:

  • Researcher – Dr Anna Myers, Research Fellow in Physical Activity & Health, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Sport and Exercise Nutritionist - Dr Sharon Madigan, Head of Performance Nutrition, Sport Ireland Institute
  • Performance Analyst – Julia Wells, Head of Performance Analysis, English Institute of Sport
  • Biomechanist - Cat Shin, Biomechanics Project Lead, English Institute of Sport
  • Sport and Exercise Psychologist - Amy Spencer, Sport Psychologist, Southampton FC
  • High Performance Physiologist - Laura Needham, Co-Head of Physiology, English Institute of Sport.

You can also view a recent Interview with Laura in the Members’ Area as she took part in an interview series led by Dr James Malone which gives upcoming practitioners and students information, guidance, and tips from individuals working day to day with athletes.



BASES stands for the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. BASES is the professional body for sport and exercise sciences in the UK.

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