At an event to celebrate the centenary of The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act held at the University of Kent by Kent Business School and sponsored by Girlings Solicitors, five successful women got together to tell their personal story and give their perspective on breaking down barriers to achieve professional success.
The speakers, Mehjabeen Patrick, Rachel Sanders, Jenni Adams, Karen Cox and Caroline Armitage are all from very different sectors - creative, construction, banking, education and the law and you can listen to Caroline’s story below.
Caroline, a consultant Solicitor in Corporate & Commercial at Girlings as well as a wife and mother, first entered the male dominated world of corporate law in the 90s, working at a Magic Circle law firm in the City:
The personal stories of all five women, although very different raised common themes. Championship from a supportive male boss to open the door so that they could ‘squeeze through the gap’ as well as the risk of ‘gender blinkers’ and self-belief in ‘personal barriers’. The event also raised the wider question of intersectionality of ageist, gender, race and other forms of discrimination.
We were reminded at the event of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, and the famous photograph of engineer and trailblazer JoAnn Morgan, who was the only woman in the launch firing room amongst a sea of men. JoAnn is now recognised as an emblem of inspiration for women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). JoAnn’s takeaway message is to not look at this photo in admiration at her achievement, but in determination to see photos like these ‘depart from our culture’.
Although opportunities in the Legal Industry have advanced - at Girlings we have an equal balance of men and women on the Management Board, and as a Firm are committed to supporting equal opportunity – the legal sector as a whole still needs to work harder to support the advancement of talented women.
In the countdown to 23 December and the centenary of The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act we will be sharing stories online from other members of Girlings’ staff and how they believe the legal sector and working life for women has changed. Please join in the conversation.
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