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UN International Day of the Girl at Bournemouth Eagle Lab

Koreo’s Good Women network for the UN International Day of the Girl brought together 27 women in Bournemouth Eagle Lab to meet, connect, enjoy time together and discuss keynote speakers livestreamed from London. Coming from a range of backgrounds and ages, each found something in the talks they could relate to.

And best of all, by the end of the evening I felt I had grown in self-understanding, was better prepared to overcome challenges at work and glowing because I had been able to offer practical assistance through connections rather than simply a sympathetic ear to those less fulfilled in their work.

Whilst I really enjoy working directly with clients and customers I feel awkward in large group situations. I’ve never been sure what I should be achieving when networking and have not really felt part of a sisterhood. Perhaps I have simply been lucky in working with employers who have valued me for my skills and qualities regardless of gender, but I have been aware this is not the situation for everyone. However, with the event planned to run in our lab, I was determined to learn more about the experiences of colleagues, clients and role models.

The response to invitations to this event was positive. A really diverse group were greeted by hospitality management students from King’s Education and had the opportunity to find out more about Eagle Labs and each other before the headline talks. Even though the sound quality on the livestream was a little tinny, we were immediately gripped by each of the speakers. Understanding that work does change lives and we can influence the workplace is key. But it goes beyond that. Perhaps the biggest reaction in Bournemouth was to hearing that primary age girls want to be commended for what they are doing rather than their clothes or the way they look. We each have the opportunity to influence young people and help them achieve their ambitions. Truly, in Bournemouth and across the labs network you could see what success looks like.

Word Café discussions provided an opportunity to reflect and explore themes raised by the speakers.

What are the barriers that stop girls’ progress in the workplace? What do we need to leave behind if we want to achieve equality in the workplace?

At times women create their own barriers, whether this is fear of how we are perceived or learned stereotypes. We are all aware of expectations, whether those learned from those we want to impress (family, friends, teachers and mentors) or those unconscious bias bring in our shared culture. To challenge this we need to leave other people’s opinions behind and know what we bring to the table. To be prepared to challenge expectations and the old boy’s network through making places where every relationship in business is based on competence. And not to apologise for choosing to have a family, adjust working commitments and therefore bring wider experience to the workplace.

If gender equality was achieved in you workplace what would you notice? How would you feel? What solutions would you suggest to tackle these issues?

The group felt that a gender equal workplace would have more male support staff. That everyone would be aware of their language choices and you would be encouraged to embrace your own uniqueness. To achieve this there is a great deal to do within education and through childhood. To stop and challenge stereotypes. To encourage more equality in primary school teachers. Create equal opportunities for males to access caring jobs and to raise awareness of how sexist comments are received.

Thinking about your experience of gender in the workplace, what advice would you give to your 16 year old self?

What’s the worst thing that could happen? Try things!


Have faith in who you are.


Go outside your comfort zone.


Don’t fear anything; be bold, be creative and be strong.


Trust your instincts and follow your dreams.


Find a good female role model and talk to them.


Be confident.


Get into tech!


Girls can do anything boys can do.


Don’t be afraid to get things wrong.


Don’t feel like you have to conform to a certain vocation if you don’t want to.


Develop a sense of entitlement in this world.

It was clear that these themes were consistent within a group of women interested in social change, across many sectors, roles, organisations and stages of life or career. Good Women are everywhere: leading charities, social enterprises, families, and businesses in great directions to support their staff and supply chains, deliver good outcomes, and not damage people or the planet in the process.


 

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