For this year’s International Women’s Day, we sat down with Maya Boustany, Student Achievement Officer and Regent’s Women’s Network lead. Here’s what she had to say about gender equality at work.
What prompted you to help start the Regent’s Women’s Network?
I have been personally and professionally involved in gender equality initiatives for a little while now. I’ve been a member of staff diversity committees, worked on a project to tackle sexual harassment on campus, sat on an Athena SWAN self-assessment team, and I volunteer at a women’s studies archive.
I started the Women’s Network in summer last year with Jackie Anena. We hosted a picnic and asked people what they would like out of a women’s collective. The response was largely lunchtime talks, social events and opportunities for continuing professional development. It’s a slow process around a busy job in Student Support, but we have managed something social (the Busy Women’s Book Club lead by Laura Gardner) and now our first lunchtime talk on continuing professional development, so we are getting there!
What’s your biggest piece of advice to women in the workplace?
- If you have a women’s network in your workplace, join it!
- Get involved in something small in your community if you feel frustrated about gender inequality. Taking small steps helps you feel like you’re being proactive, rather than being overwhelmed at how much work there is to do.
- Set yourself small, achievable challenges, and build on them over time. If you’re a quiet person, challenge yourself to speak up once in your next meeting. If someone talks over you or asks you to take minutes when that isn’t your role, speak up.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Having the patience to understand that people are at different stages when it comes to discussing inequality. When you approach situations with this in mind, you end up having much more productive conversations.
What’s next for the network?
Planning future lunchtime talks. These will be every other month now so May will be the next one – get in touch if you know a great speaker you would like to suggest for a future talk. The next Busy Women’s Book Club which will be on March 17. The next book is The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel. We are also running a zine-making workshop as part of wellbeing week on March 16.
We hope to see you at an event soon!
Email [email protected] for more info or to join the Regent’s Women’s Network