Robyn Longhurst has a long-standing interest in gender, equity and social justice. This includes issues around access to education. She researches in the broad areas of social and cultural geography, with a particular interest in gender and embodiment. She has worked at the same university for her entire career and is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic at University of Waikato.
Robyn has had a global career from the comfort of her home town. She grew up in New Zealand and lived most of her life in the regional city of Hamilton. Her first academic appointment was at the University of Waikato, a University of only 12,500 students, where she still works to this day. Although Robyn has had opportunities to work abroad, she has chosen to stay in Hamilton, and has always felt connected to the world through communication technologies, periods of study leave spent away and travel.
Robyn was the first in her family to attend University, where her interest in social justice led her to study Human Geography. Her parents were pleased that she had opportunities that they hadn't. This was likely a driver of her social justice perspectives early in life. Robyn undertook and completed her Bachelor and Master's degrees, and following her graduation, took seven years to travel the world before returning to Hamilton.
She was advised to go to another university to gain more experience. However, she prioritised being near her family. Waikato was also the only university in New Zealand that offered Gender Geography as a discipline. Whilst doing her PhD and having her first baby, she was offered her first job as a Lecturer, which she accepted.
As for many, managing motherhood and career was challenging, and she has been passionate about doing a great job on both fronts. Robyn made her work and kids fit around each other, often reading and writing at the kitchen table with her two sons nearby.
Throughout her career, Robyn has been aware of the unconscious bias she has faced due to her gender, such as comments going unheard when said by a woman, but acknowledged when said by a man. She’s also been challenged by the imposter syndrome, especially when facing decisions to take on senior roles. She has responded by mustering confidence and facing challenges head on. Robyn has mentored formally and informally in the past, in the University of Waikato Mentoring Programme and as part of the NZ Women in Leadership Programme for the tertiary education sector. As a mentor, Robyn hopes that by sharing a bit about herself she'll be able to help others reflect on their journeys. She wants to encourage others to become self-aware, reflective learners, enabling them to think through issues and find their own way. Robyn prioritises making people feel welcome, and that in that moment they are all that matter.