Women at the table

On Monday I was lucky enough to join an amazing line-up of speakers (pictured below) at an event hosted by the University of East London aimed at inspiring students ‘in honour and celebration of women’. Alex Watson kindly invited me to share my story as a working mum running her own business(es). But there were ladies on the panel with far more inspirational stories than mine to tell. There were women who are campaigning for victims of domestic abuse, heading up charities, working for large corporates, coaching executives, working with young people, teaching…the list goes on and it was the sort of day that made me proud of my achievements and spurred on to pay it forward wherever I can.

Photo credit: Jenni Steele

Photo credit: Jenni Steele

A common theme throughout the day was the concept of ‘imposter syndrome‘ which is classified as ‘feelings, epitomised by profound self-doubt and a sense of being a fraud…common among women of every age and every level of success’. Now this is particularly interesting to me because very recently I attended a pretty fancy round-table event with a very select invitee list. It was a stimulating and engaging discussion that took place around said table, but aside from the lady hosting the event, I was the only girl in the room. One of the other male attendees and I remarked on this afterwards and pondered why more women don’t put themselves forward for things like speaking slots at events for example, as this would raise their profile and ultimately mean more women at the table for high level discussions such as this. Maybe imposter syndrome is to blame?

All this is happening whilst I prepare to attend the HR Tech Europe event next week. Now during my session on Monday I referenced the fact that my main areas of focus are marketing, L&D and HR; three areas of business that are well represented by women. This has meant that I have been fortunate enough to encounter very little sexism or anti-female feeling directly throughout my career. However, my recent round-table experience shows that whilst it might not be a case of sexism per se, women are still often under represented in the public facing aspects of these industries.

So I am pleased to see that there are some pretty kick-ass ladies on the bill for next week’s conference. Some of them I know well, some of them I know by reputation and others I don’t know at all. But that they are on the agenda is a good thing. I’m not someone who’s really in favour of quotas, and as someone who organises a lot of events, you have to put the content first. But clearly women like Rachel Botsman, Heidi Spirgi, Fiona Leteney, Jas Johal and Nicole Le Maire have stories to tell and inspiration to share.

I also happen to know that one of my fellow blog squad members at HR Tech Europe, Faye Holland, is doing some digging to find out how the sponsors and vendors are promoting the careers of women in technology. That will be a great post to read once she has compiled all the answers!

None of this post is designed to be anti-men and I know a lot of guys who don’t really agree with the concept of things like International Women’s Day. For me it isn’t about bashing the other sex, it’s about championing what women can bring to the table. However, if we’re going to hear what they’ve got to say then we’ve got to get them into the room first.

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About kategraham23

Start-up founder, writer, connector, librarian's daughter. Interested in learning, HR, technology, online, media, marketing, fashion and cricket. Not always in that order. The views expressed here are solely my own and do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the company I work for currently, or those I've worked for in the past.
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