Dare to… challenge the status quo

In a week that saw the Oscar’s herald a “new day” for women in Hollywood, and with International Women’s Day calling us to #PushForProgress we were thrilled to host the latest Pearls of Wisdom event, hosted by Virgin Media. We listened to stories from trail-blazing women who chose the path less trodden when it came to their career choices, to hear what it takes to go boldly where few women have dared to before…

Lauren Dolan discussed driving culture change and nurturing talent in a male dominated world. Lauren highlighted the importance of knowing yourself, your strengths and the value you bring to a team – and then making these known. The magic ingredients for a team player? According to Lauren, hard work, passion, humility and resilience are the perfect combination for a team player. Though it is important not just to focus on the team, you need to focus on the league. Your network is essential – getting the right people, the right women, behind you will undoubtedly help propel your career.

Natalia Awodeji is one of the few females in a senior STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) role, and shared with us some pearls of wisdom on how and why we should be aiming to build a diverse pipeline within the industry. Currently, there is a lack of confidence, a lack of support and a lack of mentors for young females interested in a career in STEM. As a senior design engineer, Natalia has found herself in situations walking in to a lab to work where was asked whether she was lost. It is important that we inspire, inform and support young girls in order to encourage them so that they understand that they are just as capable of carrying out a STEM role as boys are. Change is slowly happening though, over the last 2 years, the number of women in STEM roles has increased from 9% to 11% and we hope this number will continue to grow!

Laura Denton was one of the first female STEM graduates, and joined us to share her experience and advice of carving a successful career in a male dominated industry. Laura discussed how being a woman in a STEM role is an advantage, because she chose to see it as one. One of Laura’s key pearls of wisdom was about confidence; we have to have the confidence in ourselves. There’s no stereotyping, we can all do it if we believe in ourselves. If you don’t believe in yourself then how can you expect anyone else to? One thing that we do need to address is the language that we use “stop being such a girl,” “she’s just like one of the lads,” “she’s really good for a girl” – why is being a girl such a negative?

Dr Carolyn Lorian joined us to share her pearls of wisdom on how to stay resilient and maintain your purpose.  She highlighted three key pearls of wisdom;

  1. Adapt
    Men and women respond differently to risk, as women tend to underestimate their ability to cope moreso than men. You need to identify what is risky to you, so that you can redefine risk and gradually expand your comfort zone
  2. Engage
    Maximise your time “in the zone” by balancing skill and challenge – figure out what it is that engages you. This can mean constantly re-calibrating where you are at.
  3. Recharge
    Understand what it is that re-charges you and make that non-negotiable. Think of yourself in the same way as your phone – when you have a low battery, you aren’t working at optimal level.

Thanks to all who joined us for the event, and to our inspirational guest-speakers. We look forward to seeing you at the next event coming up on 25th April, keep your diaries clear, and your eyes peeled for more information coming soon…

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