Women in the Spotlight: Jane Wood


Jane Wood is a Lecturer in Fashion and Textile Technology in the Department of Materials, School of Natural Science, University of Manchester. She discusses how intrinsic innovation is to the textile and fashion sector, and her work in developing ‘next-gen’ fabrics from non-traditional sources.


Tell us more about your role at the University of Manchester.

At the University of Manchester, I work in the Department of Materials in Fashion Business Technology. I am a lecturer in Fashion and Textile Technology. My role involves teaching and supporting students, and developing research with colleagues, industry and PhD researchers to change the future of fashion and textiles.

What do you enjoy most about working in your sector?

Every day is different! It’s a cliché to say it, but I love my job so much, it really isn’t like working to me! I love working on research with like-minded individuals who want to ask questions and seek answers (wherever those answers may be). I really love working with students and the conversations we have about their own aspirations, their learning and the future of fashion. Its often those chance conversations that drive research in a whole new direction.

How important is innovation within your role/sector?

The textile and fashion sector would die without innovation. Textiles touch everybody’s lives, everyday. You could argue that fashion is innovation; it is always seeking the next novel look. However, it is easy to only see the aesthetics of fashion, the innovation in the sector comes from real scientific research and development, exploring ways in which the industry can be more efficient and less polluting, how it can improve lives and how it can inspire creativity.

What professional achievement are you most proud of?

I have just undertaken the role of Honorary Secretary for The Textile Institute which is the global professional body in textiles and clothing. It’s an absolute privilege to serve the institute in this way as it has been part of my professional life for as long as I can remember.

What, if any, are the challenges of being a woman working in your sector?

Unfortunately, in some places, misogyny is alive and well and living in the textiles industry! However, it is much less prevalent now than it was when I first started out; I could tell you many unpleasant stories about working in industry! When I first started my industrial career, I felt very intimidated by some of the ‘old school’ textile manufacturing factories and offices I found myself in. I think the industry now is a kinder place for everyone to work in, not just women; the culture in general has softened.

What advice would you give to other women working in your sector?

Don’t worry about what ANYONE thinks, just go for it! The textile sector needs a revolution and you are the person to make it happen! We all need to pull together to make the sector better, particularly in terms of pollution and the impacts this has on climate change.

Can you please tell us more about what you’re currently working on in the Department of Materials?

I’m currently working on the textile industry of the future, developing less environmentally harmful practices to replace the ages old ones that need to be replaced and modernised. I’m also looking at ‘next-gen’ fabrics; those fabrics that are from non-traditional sources that have the potential to completely change the way we think about textile manufacturing and use.