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International Women’s Day

8 Mar 2021 9:30AM

The University’s Chancellor has shared her thoughts on International Women’s Day, which is taking place today.

Dr Helen Pankhurst CBE, is the great-granddaughter of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. She said “This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge, which aligns perfectly with the University of Suffolk’s core proposition that in a world where nothing ever stays the same, we all need to change to evolve. It’s out of that process that we achieve success and more change. That is what the University is all about, that’s what it does.”  

“My message is be the catalyst for change. Be bold and be happy to contest the stereotypes and the status quo.” 

“In my day job at Care International, the motto that we are using around International Women’s Day this year is stop telling half the story. This is because too often there is only one narrative that prevails; diverse views and contributions are not centre stage. We need to challenge this; we need to consider the full story. Let’s Choose to Challenge. Let us do it thoughtfully, with empathy, let’s do it with purpose, to foster inclusivity, to call out bias, to ensure everybody is valued and engaged.” 

The University is using the opportunity of IWD to celebrate the expertise of those working in predominately male-dominated careers. 

Dr Federica Masieri is an Associate Professor and Course Leader in MSc Regenerative Medicine at the University. Dr Masieri said "Being a woman in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) means to have to constantly challenge the status quo, and often having to work harder to demonstrate skills, compared to the male counterparts. For women, this often means, for example, being less represented as an author or co-author in publications and scientific projects or being left out from roles of leadership.”  

“The ongoing pandemic has sadly further enhanced inequality and discrepancies in the field of STEM: for example, recent statistics have shown how, in the last year, women have published even less and initiated fewer new research projects, testifying how, in times of hardship, the burden of families still falls mainly on women's shoulders.” 

“From experience, being a woman in STEM means always have to punch through that 'glass ceiling', and often being hurt with the shards falling back. But I do not let myself be scared as I leave my accomplishments and resilience to speak for me. I am a passionate and recognised cell biologist, and I feel always empowered by being able to contribute to solutions and new discoveries that can advance knowledge and solve problems.  As a female academic, I have the opportunity to inspire future generations of scientists and be a role model; I can create spaces for fellow female scientists at all career stages to be recognised for their excellent contribution.  Being a woman in STEM means also being an advocate for all underrepresented groups and their intersectionality within STEM: the ethnic minorities, the LGBTQIA+ community, and people with disabilities. My active and conscious feminism makes me their biggest supporter. The language used due to the unconscious (and conscious) bias is a transversal issue to all these groups and this should be addressed with more training at all levels.”   

“My message to all students, especially to females of all backgrounds, is, we need you! Never think you are not good enough for studying science, or not bright enough, or that "You cannot do this because this is not what girls are supposed to do". Prove them wrong: make it your mission and enjoy the sense of liberation that comes from knowledge. You can and will do it."  

Dr Suha Al-Naimi, Course Leader in Nutrition and Human Health, said "As a member of staff in Life Sciences we work together as a team regardless the gender. Any success one does really reflect on all of us. However, my best advice to all my female colleagues is if someone is uncomfortable with something, voice your opinion. Do not be afraid being in the middle of a male dominated professions and always remember that you work hard and have every right to speak up. Stand up for yourself and demand respect, in a professional way of course."

Founder of the University’s department of Architecture and Architect Dr Liana Psarologaki was recently one of only four finalists for the second Greek International Women Award in the Design category. 

Dr Psarologaki said “We have been, and continue to be, unconsciously biased against presence that we consider unusual, non-mainstream or unexpected. Much systemic change in collective mentality is needed in what I consider single-gender dominated sectors. This change comes from each of us as individuals and extends to others. There is a lot to be done in the Built Environment and Architecture in the UK for the support of unrepresented groups by all parties involved. One of these groups is female Architects, like myself, who are still much less seen to hold leadership positions and be involved in directorship and key decision making processes. 

“One of the things I have personally been fighting for is the making and promotion of Architecture as a professional field that is open to and suitable for all, including women, looking at how decisions are made when women for example choose to enter study at University level and how they remain in study and the profession. The statistics are disappointing. It is important that people drop our assumptions about who is suitable for a profession and what professional life may entail, if we wish for a positive change towards equality. We should start thinking that if we wish to see change, we must be the ones to change in the first place, whether that means that we must become less short-sighted or more demanding.” 

“Female Architects have been considerably overlooked historically and female students who may wish to pursue such a career have little to relate to unless they are privileged to be nurtured by those who know better and know more. At the University of Suffolk, we definitely do and we are so proud to have students who will represent and advocate for a future profession that is fair and inclusive." 


University of Suffolk Press Office