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“Remember the dignity of your womanhood. Do not appeal, do not beg, do not grovel. Take courage, join hands, stand besides us, fight with us.”
- Christabel Pankhurst; British suffragette, co-founder of the Women's Social and Political Union


The road to equality and equity is never easy - it is long, winding and full of those that would impede your progress. Victories are hard-won by inspirational figures, making sacrifices to ensure that the injustices visited upon them do not go unanswered.

Alongside celebrating the women who have made today's world possible, we also asked members of our own team for their stories - we have raw, uneditted testimony of the women that make our Students Union the place it is, as well as any advice they have for women going into the workplace.

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Victoria Jackson - Student Events Programme Manager

“Balancing the roles of a mother, dealing with a chronic illness causing fatigue and joint pain, while maintaining a full-time job presented its own set of challenges. Yet, I learned that ambition and self-care can coexist.”

Starting my journey in the male-dominated world of wedding photography, I found myself working unsocial hours as I ventured into the world of the creative industry when I set up my own business in 2010. Back then, the wedding photography landscape was predominantly male-dominated, making it a tough task to stand out. I was very determined and I taught myself various aspects of running a business - from marketing to networking and editing.

Through perseverance and dedication, I successfully covered over 100 weddings, numerous commercial projects, and family photoshoots, earning national recognition. The turning point came when I joined a network of female photographers. This supportive community not only provided advice but also became a source of job referrals, enabling us to uplift each other in a male-dominated industry.

Drawing from my entrepreneurial experience, I extended my support to students at UEASU, founding monthly pop-up markets and business grants. This initiative aimed to empower student entrepreneurs by showcasing their ideas and providing a platform to kickstart their ventures. I even took a group of students to Spitalfield Market in London, offering them a taste of real-world entrepreneurship. I’ve been fortunate to experience a number of different roles at UEASU, now as a Programme and Events Manager I curate a program of events and support a team where we have the opportunity to champion women on campus who aspire to organise their own events and showcase their talents. The aim is to create an inclusive platform for these women to thrive and succeed in their creative pursuits.

Balancing the roles of a mother, dealing with a chronic illness causing fatigue and joint pain, while maintaining a full-time job presented its own set of challenges. Yet, I learned that ambition and self-care can coexist. My advice to aspiring individuals is to dream big but also prioritise self-care. Surround yourself with a supportive community, especially women who can be your cheerleaders, and in turn, be theirs.

Jumara Stone - Chief Executive Officer

“This young brown woman became a CEO at 30 because she knows her sh*t and will always champion the Marginalised, but you tell yourself what you need to make yourself feel better, that’s okay.”

The future is golden. But it needs more of us to continue to pave the way.

Without it sounding too dramatic (although it is!), the future for our sisters will be magic but there is still a long road ahead. And this year’s theme of inspiring inclusion has an urgent call to action for more of us to join the movement and bring someone along on that journey.

Even today, too many women are subjected to gender inequality in all fields across the UK. And don’t get me started on how much harder this becomes when you consider our other layers of lived experience (shout out to the Black women, and trans women whose resilience I am constantly in awe of. I see you and you are loved).

My own experience as a woman in leadership has been met with various acts of inequality: being called too aggressive, or bossy, or not knowing my place. And even comments on my choice not to have biological children. My favourite one to date: everything I do, everything I achieve, is labelled as ‘a diversity reason’. Rather than earning it, people have said I got it because I am a young brown woman. Here’s my message to the people who try to take us down: This young brown woman became a CEO at 30 because she knows her sh*t and will always champion the Marginalised, but you tell yourself what you need to make yourself feel better, that’s okay.

As a CEO, one of my biggest hopes and personal missions within this role is to ensure I foster and empower my sisters to join me and many others in the journey of disrupting the power imbalance we see today by becoming the next generation of leaders and changemakers in all fields. Within this, I also want to support our allies to be our active advocates in the spaces we are still not privy to, a part of, and unaware of. Advocacy is one of the most powerful tools, and our allies can do this for us!

My career path wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the powerful women role models I’ve had the privilege of learning from: Claire Pratt, Director of Student Services (wellbeing) at UEA, has been a constant source of support and guidance for me, showing me how it’s possible to be compassionate and be a boss. Without her, I would not be the leader I am today. And I am forever grateful to her.

We need more Claire’s to help us in this journey. We need more of you to be this for other women. We must do it. Because if we don’t do it, then who does?

To summarise:

  • There is space for all of us at the top so don’t fall for the patriarchal BS that there isn’t. There is. We have the power to make this happen.
  • For every person who labels you negatively, take it as a compliment as it means you are disrupting the system and shifting the power dynamics. The power is yours to have. Take it. Don’t let their fragile egos stop you.
  • Find your sisters. We’re here for you, and we will lift you up when the bad gets you down. You won’t be down for long with us by your side. Hype gals forever.
  • Go change the damn world. And if you get the chance to do something amazing, take someone along with you.
  • Be inclusive of all people in this. And think about the most marginalised when being inclusive and supportive.

Pippa Stebbings - HR Administration Apprentice

“I have been told there wouldn't be any career progression if I didn't start to 'lighten up' when more senior managers made sexist and harassing jokes about my body, my relationships and my experiences as a woman in that company.”

I previously worked in a male dominated workplace. There was little female representation in my management level, and so the 'lads' culture often went unchallenged and became the norm.

I have been told there wouldn't be any career progression if I didn't start to 'lighten up' when more senior managers made sexist and harassing jokes about my body, my relationships and my experiences as a woman in that company. I worked so hard to prove my worth for a position that I deserved, and when I got that position the first thing a senior manager said to me was 'your t*ts look better in that uniform'.

Even when I handed in my notice to come work here in HR, my boss told me it would suit me as I was 'already a bit of a b*tch'.

Sexism was embedded in the culture of the workplace, and after a while I just began to accept I, and other female managers, would never be treated with the same respect as our male coworkers. Leaving that company really came as a wow moment, once I realised that behaviour isn't acceptable in other workplace environments.

I am so lucky to work with my absolutely gorgeous team, three girls who stick together, support each other, and challenge the status quo. I can see the power of female leadership at uea(su), and here, at the beginning of my new career, I can finally see myself trusting my skills and knowledge. I feel empowered working here, and I am learning to use my voice.

Chelie Lear - Head of Waterfront

“If you judge a book by it’s cover, you might miss out on an amazing story.”

In a position of leadership in a mainly male dominated industry, I feel very lucky to not have experienced the feeling of inequality in the workplace very often, and when I have, I am proud to have shown the resilience to deal with it. So, I guess you could say, my story is more of a success one that I am happy to share.

At 16 my “dream” career began with education & qualifications in the equestrian world. Training was tough (as were the living conditions!) my boss was a strict ex-military man who had served in the cavalry & demanded very high standards, respect & dedication. I progressed on to become his head trainer & yard manager. Although his “management” styles would not be tolerated in today’s society, I do believe that my determination & resilience began right there which has driven me through my working life, and for that, I am thankful.

Fast forward to where we are now & I reflect over the years of my position at the Waterfront with the SU. The music industry is a very male dominated world, and not one for the faint hearted at times! On my 1st weekend, some of the security team joked with me that a bet had been put on as to how long I would last here (I’d love to know now what the longest was!!) maybe that determination kicked in, because here I still am 22 years later!

I have too many experiences & stories to write here, and it’s been quite the journey. As a female in a mainly male working environment, I have built relationships with other managers, colleagues & a large security team who I can honestly say have been amazing to work with. I truly feel & value their support & that I can talk openly & honestly to each & every one of them. The people you work closely with is the difference between appreciating who you are & what you are about, to those who don’t get the chance to know the real you. It’s very easy to judge someone & form opinions. Any inequality I have experienced in this industry has been from those who pass through our venue & don’t understand me as a person, just a female.

One story that springs to mind is of a heated confrontation with a very well-known artist who wasn’t getting his own way, threating to cancel the gig & tried to belittle me in front of his crew by calling me a sassy little girl (those who know me would maybe agree!!) but, because my team know me & how I work, I had them right behind me. My security manager gave me a pep talk & some advice on how to strengthen my position in the situation & I managed to confidently stand my ground. And yes... the gig went ahead!

Only the other day a guest of an artist called me “Sweetheart” in a very derogatory tone. I guess I will be subjected to those behaviours from time to time but now I have the confidence to be able to reply & the resilience to not take it personally, it is their downfall not mine.

When I think of Woman’s History Month and equality, I reflect to when I worked overseas & experienced different cultures. I feel very lucky to live where women are largely accepted in society as equals. There is still a way to go in some instances however my thoughts go out to those in cultures who are suffering & unable to enjoy basic life experiences that we take for granted such as freedom of choice, education or speech.

The advice I would give to any female who would like to progress in the music industry to a position of leadership, is to get to know your colleagues, listen to them & treat them as you would like to be treated yourself. Learn how you can strengthen your resilience by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone now & then. Have a female in another department who you can off-load to over a coffee, or glass of wine (you know who you are and thank you!!) it’s ok to show a bit of vulnerability at times. Above all, be real to yourself, go for what you want, don’t be afraid to take risks & show what you have to offer – don’t let people judge your female book by it’s cover!!

With more to come as Women's History Month 2024 progresses!


Historical Figures

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst (1858–1928)

Emmeline was brought up in a politically active family. She became involved in women's suffrage in 1880 and formed the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) when her local branch of the Independent Labour Party refused to admit women members. She believed winning the vote would never be achieved by constitutional means. She was imprisoned on a number of occasions for militant action, and went on hunger strike protests.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai (1997–Present)

Malala is a Pakistani activist who, while a teenager, spoke out publicly against the prohibition on the education of girls that was imposed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. She gained global attention when she survived an assassination attempt at age 15. In 2014 Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of their efforts on behalf of children’s rights.

Sara Mardini

Sara Mardini (1995–Present)

Sara is a Syrian former competition swimmer, lifeguard and human rights activist, who took part in search and rescue missions, saving refugees making the crossing from Turkey to Greece.

Mokube Bertha

Mokube Bertha (1980–Present)

There’s one thing Mokube Bertha knows for sure – to ensure the well-being of women and girls in her community, women need to empower other women. And that’s exactly what Mokube’s goal is.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda (1937–Present)

Jane is an American actress and activist. Recognized as a film icon, Fonda is the recipient of various accolades, including two Academy Awards, two British Academy Film Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, the AFI Life Achievement Award, the Honorary Palme d'Or, and the Cecil B. DeMille Award.


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