To celebrate the contributions and achievements of women at the Defence Academy and raise awareness of what we do here, the Shrivenham Women’s Network held an event in the JSCSC forum on 7 March 2017.
It was great to see so many men and women from across the site gather together to view the posted exhibition, network, and hear the keynote speeches from Air Cdre Scott Miller, AComdt(A) & D Leadership, and Dr Ellen Hallams, Senior Lecturer in Defence Studies, King's College.
Dr Ellen Hallams, an active network committee member, said,
"There are many women in all kinds of roles here: military staff, students, SERCO to ESS, academics, civil servants and contractors in many different capacities. This campaign is in part about making more visible the wonderful work we all do. The DA is a unique and wonderful place to work but it is a male-dominated environment and it isn’t always easy being a woman here. In coming together to celebrate all we are and all we do, we’re contributing to a rich tradition of women standing together to commit to continue to work for equality and inclusivity.
"We live in a world where the fight for gender parity faces much resistance, and women are still fighting for things like equal pay and a halt to gender-based violence. IWD is about just this; forging a more gender inclusive world, accelerating gender parity and celebrating the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women. I hope this week we can all take the time to reflect on our own achievements and contributions, whatever they are, and that all of us here, whether male or female, can play a part in being ‘bold for change.’"
Air Cdre Scott Miller highlighted the increased opportunities for women, from two-star female officers in the RAF to Cressida Dick, the first female Commissioner of Met Police, to our second female Prime Minister and (almost) the first female US President. But he noted that equality of opportunity has not been fully achieved - there is still much to do. Change needs to be a collective effort, and we can accelerate its pace. All of us are responsible – regardless of gender or seniority – and it is vital that we harness a capability of which we have made too little.
He pointed out that at a time when we are seeking to lead the way in Women, Peace and Security, to avoid the group-think that Chilcot identified, and when we are re-doubling our efforts to improve our thinking skills and drive out conscious and unconscious biases, we should make more of the intellectual talent that our female cohort has to offer.
Air Cdre Miller noted that the males in the audience have a major part to play; current dominance in numbers/rank doesn’t mean they can be complacent and assume the ‘rules of the game’ do not need to change. He also challenged the females to help each other – to do more mentoring and coaching, and more ‘plain old encouragement.’
We were left with one final thought that applies to all of us: Empowered females empower other females. Do some empowering.
If you’d like to know more about the Shrivenham Women’s Network, see our Facebook group page – we’d love you to join us!