Your Education Officer, Sewa, and Community Officer, Bethany, both took part in the Women in Leadership programme last year. The programme is for anyone who identifies as a woman, helping you develop your skills and confidence. It’s made up of six workshops and one follow up session in the spring. It may even make you want to run in the 2020 Elections…
Our Officers wanted to share their experience with you and tell you how you can get involved.
What does the word “Leadership” mean to you?
Sewa: When I hear the word leader what comes to my mind is a strong, assertive and confident person. Someone who is always right, fixed in their opinions and takes charge of every situation they are involved in. Before taking part in the Women in Leadership programme I wouldn’t have identified myself as a leader; I didn’t believe I encompassed what a leader should be.
However, during this training programme, a change of mindset occurred. I had to unlearn in order to grow; I had to learn that every single individual has leadership capacity and by understanding my purpose and values and eventually shifting my paradigms, I too am a leader.
Would you have considered yourself a leader before the programme?
Beth: I had never considered myself a ‘leader’, but that’s because I was seeing ‘leadership’ qualities being primarily masculine. I felt nervous when I spoke to people, never mind on a stage! How could I possibly be a leader? I also struggled with being a woman and confronting people in my job, they just didn’t take me seriously or brushed off my concerns because of my gender. However, I enjoyed sharing the sessions with other women who also had the same experiences and we could talk about it together.
Why do you think it’s a good idea to target women?
Sewa: There is strength in women. There’s shared struggle, shared comfort, shared understanding and shared power. We benefit from developing a strong community and growing this. I’m often in meetings or discussions where I really struggle to find my voice. It feels like I have to be loud to be noticed or respected.
The programme teaches you techniques for effective communication. It’s not just about speaking, it’s how important body language is. Listening plays a key role in leading and taking charge of a conversation; especially when speaking on difficult topics.
Which part of the programme stood out to you?
Beth: The section on how to project myself was really interesting for me - I’d never considered how my body language could be perceived to others. Even if I was feeling nervous and small inside, I could open up my body and make my voice louder to make myself appear confident. I also learned a lot about transferrable skills, even if I hadn’t done a specific role, I could have already displayed the skills to be able to do the role anyway. It’s also really important to be resilient – a job rejection might not mean I was terrible at the interview but that I wasn’t suitable for the particular role - perhaps it wasn’t my strength.
Sewa: I thoroughly enjoyed setting goals. It helped me remain accountable. As someone that tends to manage a lot of things at once and struggles with balance, understanding how to prioritise tasks and delegate was crucial to my development as a leader. All of these skills I’m now using in my role as your Education Officer. I can attribute some of the courage I had to run in the elections to the Women in Leadership Programme. I remember expressing my interest to the team about running in elections and how encouraged and supported I was. All the skills I learnt during the programme fell into place, from learning how to confidently speak in front of lectures to students, to being mindful of my body language and learning how to project the inner power and strength I had.
Want to take part in the Women in Leadership Programme?
This programme is for any student who identifies as a woman, and is here to encourage you to develop your skills and confidence, and consider standing in the 2020 Exec Officer elections. It is made up of a series of 6 workshops and one follow-up session in the spring:
If you are interested in being part of the Women in Leadership programme, we want to hear from you. Perhaps you’re someone who has been involved in the SU before, but still feel like you want to develop your skills that bit further. Fill in your details on this form and we’ll be in touch. Watch our video about it here.
Applications close 12:00 1st November, so get yours in now!