By Melissa Bradshaw, on 16 March 2016
“If we didn’t have a pretty awesome sense of humour there’d be a f*** load more murders.”
Just one of many memorable quotes from two of UCL’s many International Women’s Day events.
“I don’t think you should apply for that job. They don’t take women, or people from red brick universities”, Nicola Brewer was told. She is now Dame Nicola Brewer, and UCL’s Vice-Provost (International), having held roles such as the first Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and British High Commissioner to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.
Dame Brewer was listing a series of pieces of advice she’d been given. “I’d like you to guess if I followed them.” The answer was always obviously “no you didn’t!”
Defiance or doing things in spite of obstacles was a refrain at the afternoon of ‘Inspiring Women’, where several prominent women in academia took to the stage for a session of career reflection and inspiration
Those obstacles ranged from having to give a lecture holding a baby, to homelessness: and the achievements were great.
Dr Celia Caulcott UCL Vice-Provost (Enterprise) claimed that she is 10 years behind her male peers. “That’s the 10 years I took out for my family. I’m so glad I did.” She also wrote the paper for doubling the funding for the human genome project, and as the Executive Director, Innovation and Skills at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, she changed part of the system of innovation and discovery in the UK.
“I’m telling you this in a light-hearted way,” said Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu, telling us how she made her way up from homelessness, divorce, and trying to do a PhD as a single mum with three children.
“But I did spend a lot of time quietly weeping while the children were in bed.” When rejected for housing benefit, she consulted the law statute books, found out the council were wrong, and kept a roof over her head. She is now UCL Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa and the Middle East). (more…)