Wheels in motion: Women’s Network formally launches

On 15th November, Lancaster University Women’s Network celebrated its official launch event. Women from around the University joined us for some incredibly fruitful and eye-opening discussions, but if you weren’t able to be one of them, we’ve rounded up the highlights for you.

The keynote speaker was Dr Paula Burkinshaw, who gave a talk named “Where are the Women? Challenging HE leadership” based on her research. The 4 papers in particular that she went over were:

  • Fixing the Women or Fixing Universities: Women in HE Leadership (Burkinshaw & White, 2017)
  • Gendered Performances of Leadership: Generational Perspectives (Burkinshaw & White, 2018)
  • Empirical evidence illuminating gendered regimes in UK higher education: developing a new conceptual framework (Burkinshaw, Cahill & Ford, 2017)
  • Networking and Gender Equality in Academic Leadership (Burkinshaw & White, 2018)

Within minutes, Paula had mentioned the “F word”, and although it used to be taboo to call oneself a feminist, Paula and others around the room did so proudly. Many of the discussions centred around the idea, championed by Emma Watson in her #HeForShe campaign, that feminism is not and does not need to be anti-men: it benefits men as well as women by challenging the rigid, and sometimes toxic, ideal of masculinity. 

Paula’s talk inspired a lot of contribution from the audience. There was lengthy discussion about assumptions made about women when it comes to family responsibilities, with examples given such as a woman being asked during an interview what her plans would be if her children were ill, and a panel member suggesting a recently married woman shouldn’t be offered the job as she would be having children soon. A worrying show of hands revealed that over half of the women in the room had either faced this sort of bias, or knew of someone who had. In general, men are not challenged in this way. The bulk of responsibility when it comes to childcare is still assumed to rest on womens’ shoulders, and this can affect how they progress in their careers in a way that we don’t often see with men.

Some of the other things we talked about included:

  • Talent gap: what we lose out on when women don’t lead
  • Challenging leadership ideals that are based on stereotypical masculine attributes (some female leaders around the room commented that they’d been told they were “too nice!”)
  • Dealing with menstruation and menopause at work

After lunch, we broke into groups to discuss topics such as “To tackle inequality you have to change the society in which it exists… how can we do this at Lancaster?” No one shied away from these big questions, and you can see some of our ideas below:

The event also featured a presentation from Rachel Beauchamp, Chair of the Women’s Network, about our achievements and activities so far, and upcoming events. These will include a book club, skill share sessions, and agenda-free Women’s Wednesdays events taking place on the first Wednesday of each month.

We’re very grateful to OED for all of their help with making the event happen, Paula Burkinshaw for inspiring us all, and to all who made time to come to the event: everyone who spoke and everyone who listened. We hope you went away feeling empowered and supported. This was a great way to officially launch the Women’s Network and we’re very excited to see where we go from here!

Where are the Women? Challenging Higher Education Leadership

In collaboration with the Organisation and Educational Development (OED) team, Lancaster University Women’s Network will host its official launch event on Thursday 15th November.

Dr Paula Burkinshaw, an expert on diversity in leadership, will deliver a keynote on “Where are the women? Challenging Higher Education leadership”, which will be followed by opportunities for discussion and networking. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

The event will take place in the Private Dining Room (County) and the programme is as follows:

10:00 Coffee and networking

10:30 Short welcome by Professor Sharon Huttly

10:40 Overview of the Women’s Network and activities so far

11:00 Keynote from Dr Paula Burkinshaw: “Where are all the women? Challenging Higher Education leadership”

12:45 Lunch

1:30 Group discussion of the themes and thoughts from the session

2:30 Close


Later that evening, there will be an informal social in Grizedale Bar, from 5pm to 6:30pm. Join us for a drink and a chat!

Whatever your gender or job title, regardless of whether you’re already a member of the Women’s Network or just want to find out more, you are welcome to come to whichever parts of the event you can attend.

Read more and register   Join the network

Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead

What would be possible on your team – in our organisation – if women played bigger?

What would be possible in your life and career if you felt more courageous about using your voice and talking about your boldest ideas?

Join us as we read and discuss Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create and Lead, by the internationally acclaimed women’s leadership expert, Tara Mohr. In this 4-part book group, we’ll read the book and talk about the concepts and practical skills that we need to play big – to share our voices and take bold action, to create a significant positive impact in our careers, our lives, and the world at large.

We’ll talk about how we can:

  • quiet self-doubt
  • “unhook” from praise and criticism
  • recognise the subtle and sophisticated ways brilliant women commonly hide from playing bigger
  • deal with the two types of fear that arise when playing bigger – one you need to avoid, and one to embrace
  • begin taking bold and wise action to play bigger right now

The book group will be led by Dr Lynne Goodacre, a Certified CoActive Coach, whose practice focuses on supporting the personal development of women

Please note you do need to commit to attending all four sessions.

Places are limited (12 places in total) so register now to ensure you are not disappointed!

17.10.18- https://lancaster-uk.libcal.com/event/3342391

06.11.18- https://lancaster-uk.libcal.com/event/3342393

20.11.18- https://lancaster-uk.libcal.com/event/3342395

07.12.18- https://lancaster-uk.libcal.com/event/3342396

All sessions will take place at 12:30-1:30pm, in Training Room 3 which is located within the HR Building.


Before signing up please ensure that you can commit to all of the following, you will need to:

  • Commit to attend all four sessions,
  • Buy your own book – please buy Tara Mohr’s, Playing Big book to start with,
  • Be prepared to run your own book club with another group of women,
  • Bring your own lunch to the sessions.

Our logo


We are very proud to reveal our logo!

The tree symbolises the network’s multiple objectives and our aim of “branching” out to different groups and needs. We also liked the links to Mother Nature, stability and support. Our colour scheme was chosen with the suffragette movement in mind – they chose green for hope and new life; purple for ambition, loyalty and dignity; and white for plenty and honour.

We’re immensely grateful to Fusion for their work in designing such a fab logo for us.