The School held a panel event for SHPS staff and students to discuss issues of bias, stereotype and discrimination that women face.
Held annually on 8 March, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.
Chaired by Michelle Ellis, Associate Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the School of Health & Psychological Sciences, the School’s IWD panel event was an opportunity for our students and staff to hear from women speakers from across the City Community, sharing their inspiring stories on gender equality.
The event was held in person and online (hybrid) and each speaker was introduced by Michelle Ellis and Dr Lia Litosseliti, Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at the School, who also facilitated questions to them from event participants.
Nichole McIntosh, Head of Nursing & Midwifery at Health Education England and Honorary Visiting Professor at the School spoke first. She shared the importance of gender equality, and of her Jamaican background and identity to her work. Although a natural introvert, she described how she has found her voice when navigating systems in the UK workforce that have been biased against her and other people from minority backgrounds. She stressed the importance of intersectionality, and reminded how she has been helped by colleagues from many different backgrounds, including having strong allies in white, male colleagues who must not be forgotten as being in need of support.
Sian Thurgood is Director of Student Experience at City. In her words, growing up as a ‘tomboy’, she remembered being viewed with disdain for her absolute love of football, while also having fond memories of celebrating the England men’s team’s success on television. She compared these memories with her joy at seeing the whole nation get behind, and see England’s women’s team win the 2022 Euro’s Championship. Sian also shared how she has navigated different spaces at work, including of harassment during her early career, and learning more about the perspectives of marginalised people in her current area of work, helping her recognise her own privilege.
City Student Union President, Gesmina Tsourrai, then spoke about her experiences of growing up in Greece, and her early awareness of patriarchies. She described the first time she realised that she was being objectified by some men and how dismayed she was that they could deem their behaviour acceptable. Gesmina cited the wider challenge of facing lower expectations on account of her gender by men around her and in society. She shared how this has greatly motivated her in her studies and work to help address inequality. Gesmina said how proud she is of her mother, who has defied gender stereotypes, and been a role model of achievement to her.
The panel’s final speaker, Professor Deborah Rafalin, is the School’s Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Portfolio Development (IPD). While she worked in psychological practice in her early career, its trajectory changed unexpectedly when she unexpectedly became a mum. She shared the challenges she has faced of parenting an expanding family and of being a carer, while delivering on her academic commitments and progressing her career, much of which she achieved while working part time hours. She stressed the importance of keeping true to one’s authentic self through life’s challenges and continuing to advocate on behalf of each other.
After the panel event, the School held a networking event for staff to reflect on the day and share what it means to them and their practice. Posters from staff on gender equality were shared at the event and a special moment was reserved for the School’s Postgraduate Programme director for Radiography, Dr Christina Malamateniou, who the University had announced earlier in the day as being City’s Extraordinary Woman for 2023. Dr Malamateniou shared what receiving the accolade means to her, the support she has received from the School and how excited she is to be carrying forward the next stages of her clinical work and research.
Reflecting on the day, Michelle Ellis, Associate Dean Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion. School of Health & Psychological Sciences said:
This was a truly inspiration day where we able to hear the powerful stories of our panellists and celebrate the achievements of our alumni, academic and professional services colleagues. This was a fantastic