Celebrating women and giving them a voice.
There are at least two events marking this day today here at Salford. The most known one is the 100 Salford Women event run by the Salford Staff Women’s Action Network (SSWAN), and the Women in Research Event which Tahira Majohti and I organised with the agreement of SSWAN ( we would like to thank Tara Leach to all her moral support)
Let me tell you how this all started. Tahira and I met at the Tea Cup in Manchester for just a chat. As it often happens, a couple of ideas were forged in between those cups of teas! One of them would be materialised today: the women in research get together which aimed to celebrate women in a research-led environment and the impact they have had on others’ paths and experiences. The event was open to both full researchers and PhD students at the University of Salford, and aimed to bring women in research together in a rather informal environment where they could talk about their practice, share their passions, and meet other researchers. That is what we aimed for, and that was also what ended up happening.
As part of the event we put an open call for people to nominate Salford female researchers (in which postgraduate students are obviously included) they admired. We established five broad criteria and waited for the nominations to start pouring though our online form. And, to our delight, they did. 🙂 We have received very thoughtful comments and testimonies about our researchers which we will publish on the website fairly soon.
As a token of appreciation for their endeavours, we decided to give each nominee, and also each attendant, a flower; a symbolic gesture to thank them for their contributions to other people’s experiences within and beyond the University. Sometimes, it is easy to forget how important it is to demonstrate how much we care about how others contribute to our quality of life (at work too) in terms of the support they provide us with, be that as someone who advises and listens to, is there to help and support us, or becomes our mentor. The idea of this event was to make it easy to remember, and be able to say ‘thank you’ in a different way.
Two of our researchers (Jenna Condie and Minghui Li) also received a journal, on which everyone present at the event wrote a message… their thoughts about the research path in general, about them, etc.
Above all, we aimed to celebrate women in research in a rather informal space so people could mingle and network. The event turned out to be quite small in numbers, with an attendance of mainly women (maybe next time we need to make the invitation to men more explicit), but it was a rewarding experience all the same.
I must say it really was a wonderful event. We managed to never run out of topic (!), and the conversation evolved in really nicely. Tahira and I felt it was quite a pleasant experience and everyone was able to contribute to a friendly environment, making this a truly memorable day (at least for the two of us).
This was the first time we organised this kind of event for our female researchers, and may I say that we are very proud of what we did and achieved! We are already ‘plotting’ about what we want to do next year, but meanwhile we would like to capitalize on this event and see what the chances of organising some frequent meetings are. The idea is go create opportunities where people can congregate and talk outside their workspace with their research fellows. Ideas welcome!
Do all us a favour and go and tell that woman, who has enhanced/improved/contributed to your experience, how much you appreciate her or how much impact she has had on your life/experience. From what we have noticed, most times, people don’t even realise the influence they have on others. It’s nice just to say it. You both will feel good in the end. 😉