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Inspiring Women at The University of Manchester

As part of International Women’s Day, the University of Manchester held an event to celebrate the achievements of its alumni in healthcare and to discuss the challenges that still exist

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‘Celebrating Inspiring Women at Manchester’ was an event held for International Women’s Day, the event celebrated University of Manchester alumni in healthcare and looked into the challenges that still exist.

Vice-chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell opened the event by saying “we are one of the most diverse Universities in the United Kingdom in the most diverse city … that’s extremely important to us and it’s also a source of pride and strength”.

Dr Dawn Edge, Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences and the University’s Academic Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, led the questions and was joined by Dr Sheena Cruickshank, Senior Lecturer in Immunology and the University Academic Lead for Public Engagement, Ms Anya Golder who is currently undertaking a PhD specialising in cancer research, and Dr Patricia Troop CBE who was awarded an Outstanding Alumni Award in 2007.

Women now make up around a third of consultants and half of GPs and the panel talked about the need to change the way healthcare is practiced to reflect this, as oppose to having a rigid system and expecting to simply “squeeze people in”.

In addition to this, the hour and a half discussion covered a wide range of topics such as health literacy, the role of social media and the internet, the success and challenges surrounding vaccinations and the benefits of having an open conversation about both mental and physical health.

Dr Troop emphasised the need to engage with areas outside of healthcare such as manufacturers and supermarkets saying that “the message alone is not enough”. She went on to say that “you’ve got to work with all sorts of sectors to try and enable somebody to make good lifestyle choices … [while being] very careful not to be judgemental”.

Dr Cruickshank talked about the importance of citizen science and said: “Science is affecting all of our lives, all of the time … being aware of what’s going on, being able to take part in it and make decisions is really critical”.

Cruickshank’s been involved in the Britain Breathing project which developed an app for people to use to learn about allergies with the help of asthma sufferers. This aim of this approach is to ensure that users needs are being met at an integral level.

The event ended with the whole panel being asked: ‘What would Manchester’s inspiring women say to their younger selves?’ Dr Troop said: “Be kinder to yourself”, Dr Cruickshank said: “You’re better than you think you are”, Ms Golder said: “Mum’s right, sweets are bad for you”, and Dr Edge said “Don’t take no for an answer”.