Dr Kellie Vincent, Principal Lecturer and MBA Director at Westminster Business School, opened the event with a personal account of her own career journey, including the strong female figures in her life, taking part in Aurora, the women-only leadership development programme, and being MBA Director at Oxford Brookes.
She told the audience: “It doesn’t matter if you are male or female; it is about who you are, what you’ve done and, more importantly, what you want to do… We need to stop judging each other and have a society where it’s not acceptable to judge anymore.”
A video entitled ‘What does gender equality mean to you?’ was also played. University of Westminster alumni, staff and students had been invited to submit their own clips in response to the question, and answers included “Gender equality for me means equal opportunities, choice, education and pay”, “My daughter not hitting a glass ceiling when she enters the workplace” and “We are human beings before we are the male or female role that we play in society”.
Alumni Chris Ankobia (Purchasing & Supply Chain Management MSc, 2015), Supply Chain Consultant at Lidl UK and Co-Founder of charity Access UK; Sue Bamgboye (Quantity Surveying BSc, 2012), Project Surveyor at Galliford Try; Jo Shaw (Law, Languages and Communication, 1996), Barrister and Campaigner for the Women’s Equality Party; and Draga Tchipeva (Biomedical Sciences BSc, 2010), Senior Biomedical Scientist at Homerton University Hospital Foundation Trust, were all invited back to campus to share their experiences of gender equality in their particular industries.
They each led activities to encourage participation from the audience and begin conversations around different themes. Small groups discussed issues from gender inequality on an international scale, why women are less likely than men to apply for jobs they are not 100 per cent qualified for, how to decide what you want to accomplish in life and what it will take, why women are less likely to apply for graduate jobs but more likely to be successful if they do apply, what is a ‘strong woman’, and explored scenarios around gender inequality in the workplace.