Women's Voice launches
Mar 14, 2017
Last week saw the launch of Women’s Voice – the University staff network for women which celebrates and provide a collective voice for female colleagues.
More than 100 colleagues joined the inspirational celebration at the Old Fire Station on International Women’s Day, alongside representatives from Salford City Council, the Students’ Union LGBT, Business and Feminist Societies, WCML, the Nisa-Nashim Jewish Muslim Women’s Network and Manchester Histories.
Guests received a musical welcome from Rebecca Somers and fellow brass players from the School of Arts & Media. Dr Kirsty Fairclough (Network Chair) opened proceedings and introduced the Steering Group members: Tahira Majothi, Sam Gill, Bec Bennett, Caroline Magennis, Emma Heathcote, Christine Pyke, Gemma Lomas, Jane Howard, Maria Dickinson, Joanne Caldwell, and Sarah Christie.
Kirsty explained: “Women’s Voice is a network for all women working here at the University of Salford and was initiated by PhD researcher Anna Joel, who has been researching the experiences of women returning to work after maternity leave. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Be bold for change’ and we certainly aim to be! We have ambitious plans to drive forward our four objectives to help us to raise awareness and take action towards greater inclusive gender parity.
Our objectives are:
IDENTITY: We aim to research and address issues affecting women in the workplace such as a good work-life balance & career progression.
PLATFORM: To be as representative as possible and provide an exclusive space to voice all of our differing experiences and ideas.
GROWTH: Proactively promote opportunities for personal development for women via guest speakers, topical discussions, public engagement collaborative activity & CPD.
IMPACT: To influence organisational and cultural change.
“We’re very excited about starting out on this journey and hope that you will be active participants in the network. Please keep an eye out for comms about our upcoming research projects and activities, and do keep the conversation going via Twitter and Workplace. Share your experiences, resources, ideas, events and achievements with us, as we aim to affect cultural change for the better, with the support of our members and allies. “
Professor Abigail Gregory, Associate Dean Internationalisation and Director of Athena SWAN spoke of the sector’s initiative to promote gender equality, supported by the Equality Challenge Unit. Salford was awarded a Bronze Award in April 2016, and three dedicated task groups have been established to help Salford address issues such as the low proportion of women professors, the research pipeline and career progression, as well as wider policy frameworks for gender equality, recruitment mechanisms, leave and flexible working. Alongside this, all 7 Schools are working towards their own Bronze Award accreditations.
Baroness Beverley Hughes who was unfortunately unable to attend due to parliamentary business sent a personal message of support read by Vikki Goddard, Chief Operating Officer.
“The reach of Women’s Voice goes beyond this campus and will strive towards the objective of ‘equal status for women in all walks of life.
“There is a long way to go but with the work developed through Abigail and Athena SWAN and the momentum that will come from Women’s Voice and the commitment of the leadership of the University, I am confident we will make great progress and I look forward to working with you.”
Vikki Goddard, Chief Operating Officer followed with her personal experiences of women’s inequality during her career in HE, notably about the smaller numbers of women in senior roles and the perception of women who chose to have children. She pointed out that across all UK universities, 18% of women are paid less than men – at Salford it is 12%. Only one in five of our Professorial staff is female.
Vikki added “What does that say to the more than 50% of our students who are female?
She added: “It’s not just about pay, it’s about opportunities, role models and support. There is significant progress and it’s important we act collectively and individually to effect change.” She ended by encouraging us all to “be bold, be brave, be bright.”
Steering group member Dr Caroline Magennis introduced readings by talented students Ella Otomewa and Sky Summers who entranced the audience with their thought-provoking poetry, followed by a brief presentation from the Women’s Equality Party.
Professor Haifa-Takruri-Risk MBE brought the event to a close with a truly inspirational presentation sharing her journey from Palestine to Salford and reminded us that anything was possible.
The Women’s Voice steering group are planning a calendar of events open to all staff. More information will follow soon via staff comms, t: @uoswomensvoice and Workplace.