Karen Bonner: Head of Nursing for Patient Experience at Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust


Nursing is still dominated by women, with men making up only 10% of those entering the profession. Despite this, as I move up the career ladder in healthcare I recognise that there are fewer women in leadership positions and little progress has been made to address the lack of diversity at senior levels within the NHS. I became involved in the Inspiring Women and Primary Futures campaign to become a visible role model to children and young girls. I feel strongly that having positive role models can help you see that you can achieve anything you want in life with a bit of hard work, grit and determination.

My top tips to achieving what you want in life are, find something you are passionate about, be the best you can be and focus on doing a good job. I constantly think what added value I can bring and remember it is important to inspire confidence in those you work with. Get yourself a mentor, someone who inspires you to see the possibilities and believe that these can be obtained.

My siblings and I are the first generation of my family born in the UK. My parents both emigrated from the West Indian British colonies Jamaica and Barbados in the search for a better life. They were diligent and dedicated to their family. They recognised the importance of a good education for our future and they worked hard extend this opportunity to my siblings and I. As a product of immigrant parents, I was aware of the challenges my parents overcame and I wanted to make something of myself.

I was fortunate to know from a young age just what I wanted to do with my life. I applied for my nurse training aged 18 and qualified age 21. Being a professional nurse means adhering to the code: standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. Entering such a profession carries with it great privilege and responsibility.

I became a ward sister aged 29 and aged 35 I became matron. In 2008 I won matron and nurse of the year at the Trust for my leadership potential and contribution to the Trust values. My current post is Head of Nursing for Patient Experience. I provide strategic nursing leadership in order to maintain and develop high quality, cost effective service for patients, whilst working with teams building clinical leadership to delivery good high quality care.

Be fearless, there are infinite possibilities; life is just waiting for you.


Inspiring Women in the Arts Business with Sotheby’s


When I was a teenager, my biggest female role model was my mother. She was a professional concert pianist, who performed in the first night of the Proms. She had a career as a concert pianist and also had three children. She always encouraged me to believe in myself and set the bar high, which was fantastic.

The best way to inspire young women and broaden their horizons is to be open to as many different experiences, trying things and not letting yourself be held back by any preconceptions. Be open. Working as a woman in the arts sector, one can’t say it’s a man’s world only, the art world is a sector which is great for women to work in, with a long established tradition of trailblazers from Gertrude Stein to Peggy Guggenheim.

I think the best advice I can give to young women entering the world of work or wanting to work in the arts is it is very helpful to get advice and insight from other women who are working in that sector. Having a mentor or role model, from someone who is only one to two years ahead to much further on in their career, a mentor with whom you have a strong bond at work is incredibly useful. I also think it is very useful to try out different areas of the art world to see where you fit in. The art world has state run and also private sectors within it; it is a global world, so try different things out.

By Helena Newman.

Joanne Jackson, Olympic Swimmer, shares her tips for success


In the wake of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic games, there is no better time to highlight and celebrate the outstanding achievements of women in sport. Despite the focus on the contribution of female athletes to British sporting success, there are concerns that many young girls are still not actively engaging in sport. As role models for the younger generation, this is something female athletes can help to change. One such role model is Joanne Jackson, British swimmer:

“I was born in North Yorkshire and attended Richmond Secondary School. As a young girl, I loved to swim and wanted to follow in my sister’s footsteps, Nicola and become an Olympic swimmer. I believe in the importance of commitment, hard work and determination. This is what enabled me to achieve my dreams, and that is why I like to share my story with young people – which is what I will be doing on ‘Live Sport Talks’ on the 22nd September at the Globe Academy in London.

I have had lots of success on the international stage throughout my career, winning silver, bronze and gold medals for my performances in major competitions including the Commonwealth Games, World Championships and European Championships. One of my greatest achievements came in 2008 when I won an Olympic bronze medal in Beijing, going on to break two world records in the 400m freestyle the following year. I was only 17 when I first went to the Olympics.

I was forced to retire from the sport after the 2012 Olympic Games because of injury but I have since gone on to set up my own swimming academy and am also an athlete mentor for the Dame Kelly Holmes trust and the Youth Sport Trust. It gives me great satisfaction to inspire other young people to aim high and achieve their hopes and aspirations.”

‘Inspiring Women in Business & Enterprise’ at London Stock Exchange


Today 125 state school girls had the opportunity to participate in a ‘career speed networking’ event with high profile women in business and enterprise at London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) and had the rare opportunity to participate in the iconic market opening.

The UK boasts some fantastic female business leaders and entrepreneurs and the gap between the number of men and women is closing. However, the achievements of women in business is not always sufficiently acknowledged and celebrated. Research also shows that young women at school have little idea about the career options open to them and what the huge array of job titles and roles really entail and how to get these jobs.

The event hosted by Xavier Rolet, CEO, London Stock Exchange Group and Air Vice-Marshal Elaine West CBE, Trustee and Ambassador of the Inspiring Women Campaign brought together state school girls from Kent, London, Essex and Hertfordshire and high profile women working in UK Business and Enterprise.

Financial News’ sixth Women in Finance Survey found that when asked ‘What impact your gender had on your chances of a successful career?’ 50% of respondents said ‘a slight hindrance’, 14% said ‘a strong hindrance’ and only 1.4% said that it had been ‘very beneficial’. The consensus is that the best remedy is to get more women into the sector, and importantly rising up the ranks, thereby becoming role models to younger generations.

Manifesto for Girls’ Rights Launches in Wales


Kayla is thirteen years old. She attends a local comprehensive school in a small community in a South Wales valley. She’s considering a career as a hairdresser, or maybe a pop star. She’s an average girl, from an average place. Does she have a voice?
Girls like Kayla have inspired me for many years to do more to support young women in Wales, and further afield across the UK. Often going unheard and their needs unrecognised, too many young women are not given the opportunities they need to grow into confident, resilient, well-equipped women. Indeed, we often wait until girls become women to tell them they can be leaders, higher-wage earners, community activists and ‘have it all’.

For me this work is a personal mission. After working for the Girl Scouts of America in the USA, and subsequently becoming an ambassador for US-organisation Girl Rising, I knew I had to do more for girls closer to home. Very few girl-focused organisations and initiatives exist in Wales, and yet the problems facing young women are rising: more girls in Wales are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) than boys, which present longer-term problems too, as girls become locked into cycles of early parenthood and poverty.

Raising awareness of girls’ rights and needs is key, and so my organisation Full Circle Education, a Cardiff-based social enterprise, launched a Girls’ Rights Manifesto at our ‘Keeping It Equal’ event last month with 500 young women in attendance from across South Wales and the West of England.

The manifesto is a declaration of what we want to achieve for girls in Wales, and is a step towards my goal of growing the services for girls in Wales and raising awareness of the barriers that still exist for young women in one of the richest nations on the planet.

You could be forgiven for thinking that we don’t need to really talk about girls’ rights in the UK, after all, our girls can go to school, can access healthcare, can go on to university, and make choices about their lives, unlike the 62 million girls around the world who don’t even receive an education.

But at the same time, the UK has the highest teenage birth and abortion rates in Western Europe, and only 6% of the engineering workforce in the UK is female. Almost a third of girls experience unwanted sexual touching in UK schools, and 1 in 3 teenage girls report having experienced sexual violence from a boyfriend.

At Full Circle we want to shout about these challenges, and encourage others to do the same. We’ll be asking organisations to support our manifesto, and taking it to the Welsh Government to ask ministers to pledge their support.

Our manifesto says that girls should have:
• A better education
• A voice
• A safe community
• A fulfilling future
• Freedom of choice

We want every young person to have access to equal rights and opportunities, regardless of their gender, to ensure the UK is a prosperous and fair nation. To learn more about the manifesto or to pledge your support please get in touch with Full Circle.

Nikki Giant is the founder of Full Circle Education and ambassador for US organisation Girl Rising.

Connect with her on LinkedIn at http://www.Linkedin.com/in/NikkiGiant


A women invented the bullet proof vest – let’s hope female scientists no longer need them


Despite progress being made in terms of equal opportunities and equal pay for women, young, ambitious females can still face a difficult decision when making their career choice due to perceived ‘male-dominated’ industries. As we previously reported, over a third of teenage girls in the UK think their gender will harm their future career prospects. This is particularly disappointing given that most male-dominated professions boast a skill set that women could perform as well as, if not better than, men.

One such profession is engineering. The world of engineering is vast and open, with engineers required in many different industries and lines of work — everything from computing, to space exploration, to national defence. The job involves critical thinking, advanced problem solving, and intricate, expert crafting — despite these being character traits traditionally associated with the female gender, engineering is perceived as a male profession. Luckily this is changing, and there has never been a better time for young women to be considering a career in engineering.

The essential engineer
An engineer can be the unsung hero of many original projects, and while you may have only considered engineering in terms of manual work, greasy overalls, and a wrench, this sells the profession short significantly. Engineers will design, manufacture, and maintain all different aspects of a project, and this extends to many types of industries. It is a complicated, highly skilled role that will be respected in its workplace.

Mechanical engineering, for example, involves the designing and maintaining of machines — from everything as large as steam-powered pistons, to the intricate pattern of tiny cogs found in your wrist watch. Chemical engineering, on the other hand, involves using chemistry to transform raw materials into new functional compounds. Given how broad the spectrum is for both of these lines of work, the application for engineering work is limitless, hence job opportunities being great in number.

Small changes, big differences
Engineering isn’t about reinventing the wheel of course, and the most esteemed engineers will spot an opportunity to make small changes to something that will yield a hugely positive result. For example, forklift supplier Impact Handling recently won the FLTA Environmental Award for Excellence in recognition of their CarerZ80H. This was due to mechanical changes that promoted reduced levels of vibration and noise as well as lower energy consumption. While the engineer on this project hasn’t saved the world as such, the impact that this change could have on energy consumption in the forklift industry alone is huge, and well worthy of the recognition.

Go your own way
While engineering does require expert training and tutelage, there are several different routes you can take to enter the profession. The two primary routes are the graduate route and the apprenticeship route. There is no right or wrong way, and your decision should depend on the type of person you are and how you prefer to learn — learning is always the most important element in anything you do.

Those who are more academically inclined should perhaps consider going down the higher education route — college and undergraduate study will more than likely be fully funded, but if you wish to work in a particularly specific area of engineering, you may eventually have to also study at a post-graduate level, which could be costly.

Engineering apprenticeships are ideal for those who prefer learning on the job, honing practical skills, and receiving a career-specific education. Apprenticeships allow young people to secure formal, recognised qualifications while also receiving full on-the-job training. What’s more, they will also feel the short-term benefit of receiving a wage while they do it. While apprenticeships are mainly taken up by boys, there is no reason why young women cannot consider this route an attractive option. Research from Demos (as reported here by All About School Leavers) suggests that further encouragement for females to undertake apprenticeships could eventually narrow the gender pay gap — this is something that should be emphasised in schools across the country.

Role models
Consider the role of inspirational women such as the late Stephanie Kwolek (her obituary can be read here in The Guardian), whose work in chemical engineering lead to the production of Kevlar. The use of the ultra-durable Kevlar in bulletproof vests has literally saved thousands of lives, while the inclusion of the material in aeroplane fuselages has necessitated the ease of modern air travel. Kwolek was only offered the position in 1946 due to the amount of men away at war, and while she may have stood out like a sore thumb, she used her opportunity to research and invent something that changed the world.

With the opportunities you have ahead of you, and the support to help you along the way, there is no reason why those interested should not pursue a career in engineering, regardless of their gender.

Mentors matter


UN Women Global Champion and UK ambassador for the global movement ‘Empower Women’, Charlene Laidley’s mother told her aged 14 “stop thinking above your station”.

I have always been unbound by the limitations imposed on me by others and by the circumstances around me. I was called a ‘dreamer’ when at 14, I told my single mother who was working three jobs to support me and my younger brothers, that one day I was going to go to New York and work in the luxury fashion industry – she laughed and told me to stop thinking “above my station”. Herself being the daughter of Caribbean immigrants, and watching her own mother struggle to survive in the UK, it was outside the realm of what she thought was possible.

With the help and support of my school teacher Mrs Webb, who I now know to be my first mentor, I applied for a scholarship to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and through hard work and determination I succeeded. Four years later, after instrumental roles with Burberry and Clarins, I became the first woman of colour to join the senior leadership team of LVMH Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy – the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate.

In 2007 I became an entrepreneur, and at age 26 signed The Mayor of London, Ken Livingston as my first client. After he left office in 2008, spotting a gap in the watch and jewelry market, I launched my current business; Latiénne the world’s first exclusive watch and jewelry communications consultancy. Over the last 8 years we have represented a number of world’s leading organizations; including Unilever, P&G Braun, Porsche Design, Hatton Garden, Girard-Perregaux, Eterna and Vivienne Westwood.

My experiences made me realise that whilst we cannot determine where we start in life, we can determine where we end up.

I strongly believe mentors matter and that women role-models from diverse backgrounds matter. That’s why I have dedicated the last 10 years of my life to the economic empowerment of women in the UK. By making time to go out into the community; working with schools and young people, by providing mentoring, sponsorship and training – I share with them my experiences and the lessons I have learned with the aim of helping them believe that they have what it takes to become a leader in whatever field they choose. I am living proof that it is possible to overcome hardship and the challenges of society to excel and succeed.

In November 2015, I became an appointed UN Women Global Champion and UK ambassador for the global movement Empower Women. The mission of Empower Women is to empower women to achieve their full economic potential by inspiring both women and men to become advocates, change makers and leaders in their community. Together I believe we can bring hope and inspiration to empower girls and young women from all parts of society, to become the World’s future leaders.

Visit: https://www.empowerwomen.org