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8th March 2023

International Women’s Day: Inspirational women on campus

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Lifestyle Team are spotlighting some of our favourite women and female-focused societies on campus.
International Women’s Day: Inspirational women on campus
Photo: Vonecia Carswell @ Unsplash

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, we’ve decided to throw the spotlight onto some of our favourite women and female-led societies around the University of Manchester. From women in STEM, law, and the media, to some of our most inspiring professors, here are the Lifestyle Section’s special women’s day shoutouts.

Women in Law

Future Women Lawyers is a hub of information, advice, and support that offers women from all educational backgrounds an insight into the field.

Specialising in a variety of interactive workshops, with topics ranging from yoga to LinkedIn, and enlightening panels featuring women in the industry, this society is practically the bible for female students looking to become a lawyer.

To celebrate international women’s day, they are offering a yoga session, a women in the hot seat panel and an important workshop about domestic abuse and sexual consent, amongst other exciting opportunities to get involved with! Check out their Instagram @uom_fwl to keep up to date with their latest news and events.

Black Girl’s Space

Black Girl’s Space is an entrepreneurial society catered to empowering Manchester’s black women. The group, founded last year, has expanded rapidly, providing a variety of events for women to get involved in. These include self-care check-ins combined with self-expression via their Sip n’ Paint workshops, career and networking workshops, and catch-ups around town.

The original aim of the group was to create a safe space for black women, creating a united community focused not only on personal support, but career development, uplifting black women across Manchester. From their Instagram feed alone, it’s clear BGS has done more than just that.

A key aspect of the group is the tailored support it provides members. Beyond the invaluable career and networking opportunities Black Girl’s Space creates, the society provides well-being workshops with a licensed therapist. This provides a space to heal, or just simply be heard, allowing students to breathe amidst the chaos of university life. Not only that, but without access to therapy, it’s much harder to attain your goals and enjoy your own achievements without a mental toll along the way.

Without a strong community, room for personal growth and professional support, it’s hard to find success. Yet, Black Girl’s Space has curated the perfect situation where success and empowerment without burnout is possible. This makes them an asset to UoM and inspirational women on our campus. 

Catch BGS this week with their flagship Empower Conference on March 11. Check out the key speakers on their Instagram (@bgsmcr) and get the key details of the event here.

Women in Media

Women in Media is an annual conference run by students at Manchester Media Group which aims to inspire students and break down barriers to entering the media industry. Now in its eighth year in Manchester, WIM is returning this April with a jam-packed two days of panel discussions, Q&As, workshops, and keynote talks.

The conference is non-profit and is fundraising for two incredible Manchester-based charities this year, Manchester Action on Street Health (MASH) and Smart Works Greater Manchester.

MASH helps women working in the sex industry to have better access to good health, safety, and emotional well-being. They provide drop-in health clinics as well as personal case workers who help women set up bank accounts, report crimes, attend appointments, apply for courses, and fill out forms. 

Smart Works also does fantastic work, helping women across Greater Manchester secure employment and write their CVs – helping to change the trajectories of their lives.

Through its female focus and commitment to celebrating inspirational women, we couldn’t not include WIM on our International Women’s Day list. You can keep up to date with all of the exciting speakers announcements and find a link to buy tickets on their Instagram, @wimconmcr. The team are also putting on a fundraiser club night to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 20, so if you want to dance to some amazing female DJs and raise some money for two incredible charities, make sure to check out tickets.

Ella Robinson

Slowly rising through the ranks of Manchester’s student paper, The Mancunion, Ella Robinson has subtly been building a name for herself on campus since day one. 

Undeniably, it’s a challenge to lead the largest student paper in the UK, from mini and mega socials, breaking news and covering student protests. As Editor-in-Chief, Ella oversees 420 students that are on The Mancunion team, from writers, and designers to editors and more. Yet, despite the pressures of the job, Ella ensures every member is heard and feels welcome in the SU.

As a Sociology and Politics student, Ella has always had an interest in capturing stories, especially those not covered by mainstream media. In her first alone, she covered UoM’s historical links to slavery, UoM’s excessive Amazon expenses as well as the University’s treatment of disabled students during COVID.

By year two, Ella gained notoriety nationally for her article covering the debilitating effects of long-COVID on students. In “I’m 21, I shouldn’t be feeling like this.”: UoM students speak out about their experiences with Long Covid, Ella spoke in-depth to several UoM students about life post-COVID with long-COVID. Students were forced to sit back and watch university life go on, desperate to get involved but bound by their ongoing symptoms. The energy each person once had, including Ella, had now drained away, making university life a struggle to contend with academically and socially.

“I feel like I can’t join in as much. If I’m at the pub with my mates and they’re like ‘let’s go to the club’, I’m like ‘right I’m going home then.’ Just little things I’m always missing out on… It makes me feel a bit lonely sometimes.” 

This type of journalism, the type that listens to people and uplifts them, is what makes Ella Robinson an empowering woman on campus. Not only has it won her awards within the university and nationally, but won her the undeniable support of her team as she continues to be a welcoming presence at Manchester.

Fem Soc

Manchester University’s Feminist Collective (@uomfeministcollective) is one of the biggest women/non-binary societies in the UK. It is impressively successful: every week, the collective host lively discussions which seek to address issues students face both on campus and in their regular daily lives concerning feminism, patriarchy, and day-to-day microaggressions.

It is a hugely inclusive society, whose aim is to widen the scope of feminism, so as not to alienate particular groups of people who have historically suffered from an often-time narrow feminist ideal. In the past, the collective has held workshops about the representations of Black women on screen, as well as hosting panel discussions about the nuances and misunderstandings surrounding Black masculinities.

Other topics discussed at their weekly sessions have included; The Free Britney movement, eco-feminism, fat-phobia, lesbians: the forgotten feminists, medicine, health + discrimination, sex, dating apps, and ‘parentification’.

Ran exclusively by students, each discussion is intricate, well-researched, and sensitive: it is a wonder that the organisers pull it off each week – and completely free at that!

We spoke to Fem Soc’s Trans and Non-binary rep, Loz, about why they think the society is, and continues to be, so popular. Loz told us that “the intersectionality of the society means that everyone has the opportunity to be represented and learn about issues that would otherwise be unknown to them. The panels and discussions are always diverse and create a positive space for both learning and sharing – it is always lovely to hear people speak passionately about who they are and what they believe!”

Loz told us that their favourite thing about the Feminist Collective is how inclusive it is: “It has provided me with a space to be completely myself and share my experiences confidently, and I see that also being the case for many others.”

Philippa Browning

Philippa Browning, Professor of Astrophysics at UoM, is one of the most inspirational figures I have come across in my time as a physics undergraduate. She specialises in the mathematical modelling of solar and fusion plasmas. In particular, her research investigates why the solar corona – the outermost layer of the sun’s atmosphere – is so hot, and where solar flares come from.

When she first joined UMIST, the scientific predecessor to UoM, she was the only woman in the department, but rose to become one of the top researchers in her field. She was awarded the Royal Astronomy Society’s Chapman medal in 2016, to recognise “her pioneering work on energy release by magnetic relaxation in stressed coronal magnetic fields.” The medal is awarded for outstanding research into the science of the Sun, space and planetary environments or solar-terrestrial physics.

In addition, she has a keen interest in the environment, leading her to teach my favourite undergraduate module, ‘Physics of Energy Sources’, alongside Sarah Bridle, another fantastic female physics researcher. This module was the first course I had taken taught by women and remains the only one I have taken that was entirely female-led.

Currently, 24% of physics undergraduates at UoM are women, so we still have a long way to go. Women like Browning, however, have undoubtedly paved the way for women like me to study physics, and attempt to reach her high scientific standard.

Annabel Benton

Annabel Benton

Co-Culture Managing Editor at The Mancunion // Twitter: @AnnabelBenton_

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