Elizabeth Goodyear talks about her experiences as a female in a male-dominated workplace and the steps she took to gain the job, experience, and skills she has now.
I started working for City-REDI and WMREDI as Programme Manager in May 2021, after almost 13 years in Strategic Planning at the University of Birmingham. I was initially drawn to the job because of the career prospects but a driving force behind me putting in an application was the presence of strong female leadership within the team. I have been lucky enough to have had some supportive, encouraging, and empowering line managers. I did not want to move into a role where I could potentially lose that kind of support, it isn’t something that is a given and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have not experienced many of the barriers experienced by other friends and colleagues.
This is not to say I have not experienced discrimination as a result of my gender, unfortunately, at one point having to request to change teams as a result of a male line manager being seen to be giving me preferential treatment, as opposed to what was in fact the result of a lot of hard work and long days.
As a woman having progressed into a role within a predominately male career, I have found the task of taking up space and pushing to be heard and gain recognition difficult, to try and overcome this lack of confidence I am this year taking part in the Advance HE Aurora leadership programme.
I started studying whilst I was in my previous role for my Postgraduate Certificate in Corporate Communications as this was something I found challenging and I wanted to take the opportunity to learn a new skill. I found the return to learning fun and exciting and I was fortunate to have a fantastic mentor at the University to support me through the process. I enjoyed the course so much that I asked to use the certificate as a step into my Master’s Degree, through the University of Chester’s Centre for Work-Related Study. I am currently writing my dissertation, which I hope to complete this year and graduate by the end of 2022.
I have been a committee member for the Women’s Network from its inception in 2018, initially acting as their comms support before moving into strategy and policy roles and over the past six months having moved into the role of Co-Chair. I feel really strongly about the need for women to have a place of support where they are able to challenge gender inequality, celebrate diversity and empower women in the workplace. My most recent work within the committee has been to support HR in reviewing their menopause policy and setting up regular Menopause Cafes, both face-to-face and virtually. I have really enjoyed being part of the network and everything that it can offer, I have met a wonderful group of women who I can count on to provide support, advice and anything in between!
I encourage everyone working at the University of Birmingham to look at the Staff Networks, there are many of us, not just the Women’s Network, and we are all here to help. We are a group of volunteers often working outside of our usual working hours to provide a supportive environment for staff to discuss common issues and concerns and we are always keen to welcome and support new members.
The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI, WMREDI or the University of Birmingham.