Hour to Empower: International Women’s Day 2019

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2019, Women of the Wohl held its first speed-networking event. With 9 fantastic speakers and a packed room of attendees, it was a roaring success!

We were joined by invited speakers of varying career stages and fields from the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute, wider IoPPN and the Wolfson Centre for Age Related Diseases (Guy’s campus).
Sandrine Thuret – Reader in Neuroscience & Mental Health, IoPPN Gender Equality Champion
Sarah Mizielinska UK Dementia Research Institute Fellow, Lecturer in Dementia & Neurogdegenerative Disease
Maria Jiminez-Sanchez – MRC Career Development Fellow, Honorary Lecturer
Ann McNeill – Professor of Addictions, Head of IoPPN Diversity & Inclusion
Zoe Kennedy – IoPPN Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator
Olga Baron NC3R David Sainsbury Fellow
Petra Proitsi – Alzheimer Research UK Senior Fellow
Isabella Gavazzi – Senior Lecturer, Senior Tutor for Neuroscience
Jackie Mitchell – van Geest Fellow in Neurodegeneration

The aptly named Hour to Empower was 1 hour of informal networking in a safe discussion space, allowing attendees to have honest conversations and put their burning questions to the 9 speakers invited to share their experiences, successes and challenges faced during their careers.

Attendees had the chance to get informal advice and hear from a range of perspectives, as our speakers rotated around each small ‘networking station’ group in a series of 5 minute rounds. Many of us find the pressure of traditional one-on-one networking intimidating and stressful – so to overcome this we opted to allow participants to network in small groups to create a more relaxed atmosphere. ‘It was great – it really felt like just having a chat! And it’s quite nice to just be able to vent your questions and experiences sometimes, in the hope that someone else might also have encountered the same thing,’ said one attendee.

One of the aims of Women of the Wohl is that the network’s activities are engaging and interactive. It’s so often difficult to take time out of a busy working day (with data showing that women typically take on more additional responsibilities such as teaching and pastoral roles in addition to their research in comparison to male colleagues), that we want attendees who come to our events and activities to benefit and take something away from the experience. ‘In this instance, not only were the people who attended taking away valuable insight from the fantastic invited speakers, but also from each other through the small group discussion format. I think creating this kind of opportunity to support each other via informal mentorship and learning from shared experience is so important – it’s how you learn about the small things, the skills that matter that no one tells you about when you first decide you want to work – and be successful – in STEM. How can you be successful and aware of issues you might face, if you can’t see what that success looks like?’ said Rebecca Casterton, Women of the Wohl founder and organiser of the event. ‘Not only this, but it was a great opportunity to celebrate all woman in our community, and our successes despite obstacles. The energy and positivity in the room was fantastic, I know many people went away inspired by our speakers, and asking when the next Hour to Empower will be!’

Photography Credit:Emilia Bieszke

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