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Female staff as students on the qualities of Leading Women

We share a few highlights about some of the women who work at the University of London and have completed a Higher Education degree or are currently studying at a University of London Member Institution while they work. 

Written by Kim Kontos |

Pictured: Aisling, Annemarie, Beatrice, Cynthia, Eve, Helen, Holly, Kim, Lisa, Maja, Mary, Mehrunnisa, Natalie, Natasha, Rebecca, Yvette. Image credit: Dan Hugh

We take the opportunity at the end of this year of celebrating Leading Women to share a few highlights about some of the women who work at the University of London and have completed a Higher Education degree or are currently studying at a University of London Member Institution while they work. 

Our female staff as students and graduates of UoL Higher Education

There is a variety of firsts within their families that these women have managed to achieve, that make their work and Higher Education studies stand out. Some have been the first in their family to get an undergraduate or graduate degree, or first to gain a PhD, first to move abroad for their career or for studies or the first female to hold a managerial role, first female in their family to attend university, first lawyer in the family, and so much more. They shared that these achievements were possible due to the inspiration of other family members, the support of parents and friends, as well as a lot of hard work and determination on their side. 

This would not have been possible without my father’s encouragement who told me to write up my applications.

Mehrunnisa, Bachelor of Laws, University College London and MSc Human Rights, London School of Economics, working as Quality Manager

I benefitted hugely from support when I was a young woman (my mentor when I was at school helped me get into university and so many alumnae helped me along the way) and I feel a deep personal responsibility to do what I can to boost up other women, whenever I can.

Holly, MSc New Media, Information and Society (LSE), now working at the University of London.

My inspiration was my brother who despite cultural and financial challenges achieved a first class degree from Oxford University.

Beatrice, MA in Higher and Professional Education at the IOE, now working as Head of Academic Services Provision.

Qualities of Leading Women

When asked about the qualities of Leading Women, they shared various responses including the following words:

Qualities of leading women

I think one of the most effective qualities of a leading woman is someone who can draw out the very best from those around them. A leading woman is someone who is successful in their field but who can demonstrate integrity and commitment as well as empathy towards others.

Natasha, MA Modern and Contemporary Literature from Birkbeck, University of London

Confidence to put forward ideas that may be different. Helping the people around you to achieve their goals. Realising that success is not always immediate, and that small changes are often more valuable in bringing about real progress.

Lynne, MA Education, Gender and International Development at UCL Institute of Education, now working as Director of the International Foundation Programme.

A leading woman believes in herself even if no one else believes in her/her vision, she knows she has what it takes to achieve what she wants to achieve […] She accepts that she will make mistakes, and realises that one or two mistakes do not define her. […] A leading woman sees in others what they need help seeing/believing themselves, she is willing to put in the effort (sacrifice) required to encourage, motivate and mentor.

Helen, MSc Professional Accountancy, working as a Management Accountant.

I think it's important to ask questions about things you're interested in.  If you see something and wonder 'why do we do something that way?' or 'could that be better?', it's important to question and see if you can take action to improve things.

Holly, MSc New Media, Information and Society (LSE), now working at the University of London.

Motivation to study while working

It is never easy to have a work-life balance, especially when you also add part time study to the schedule. A number of our staff choose to study while they work at the University of London, and they are encouraged to do so. We asked what motivated some female staff to continue their Higher Education while they were working for the University:

My motivation came from wanting to learn something new that could help more students have the chances to progress that my own students had in London. [I wanted] to understand different approaches to improving educational opportunities for students worldwide, especially for girls.

Lynne, MA Education, Gender and International Development at UCL Institute of Education, now working as Director of the International Foundation Programme.

Lifelong learning was appropriate for me – this was a mid-career undertaking.” Beatrice, MA in Higher and Professional Education at the IOE, now working as Head of Academic Services Provision.
“I was also so impressed by some of the academic staff with whom I worked, and that inspired me to pursue further study.

Holly, MSc New Media, Information and Society (LSE), now working at the University of London.

I felt strongly about issues such as justice, accountability and transparency which are essential for good governance. […] My maternal grandmother was one of the many persons of Polish heritage who served in a hard labour camp in Germany during the Second World War. Her story along with the reading of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl made me question the morality of law. The study of law at University College London allowed me delve into these areas and much more.

Mehrunnisa, Bachelor of Laws, University College London and MSc Human Rights, London School of Economics, working as Quality Manager

It has changed the way I view the world, it has re-wired me to think more inclusively, to avoid judgement and listen to people’s lived experience in a more respectful way.

Isabel, MA in Gender Studies at SOAS, now working as Communications and engagement assistant in the Leading Women campaign.

The University of London encourages staff to continue their education as part of their personal and professional development in the areas they are interested in expanding their skills and knowledge.