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UEL hosts successful 'Women in Leadership' panel

Participants include pioneering attorney Dr Ann Olivarius

UEL launched a new series of leadership symposiums last week with an impressive panel discussion on the challenges and rewards of forging a leadership path as a woman.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Nora Colton chaired the well-attended evening event, "Women in Leadership: Celebrating the Impact of Visible Role Models", at University Square Stratford. 

Participants were Dr Ann Olivarius, Senior Partner at McAllister Olivarius; Tangy Morgan, Senior Advisor, Bank of England; Julia Roberts from the Miles Partnership; Dr. Ronda Zelezny-Green, an expert and trainer in mobile policy; and Petra Wilson Director of Strategic and External Affairs with the Chartered Management Group.

They discussed how they navigated their way to leadership positions, with a focus on the strategies they used and the challenges they faced.

Several of the panellists spoke about the importance of helping others – especially women supporting women and sharing knowledge with employees working under them. Investing in oneself and having a strong sense of direction and planning were also themes of the night.

Dr Olivarius, a lawyer based in New York and London who has focused on both civil rights and corporate law, said, "I've lived my life thinking I've got to pay it forward.

"My message is: You have to write your own script. You have to take responsibility to get what you want and make sure that happens".

Dr Olivarius was deeply involved in a landmark US civil rights case filed against Yale University which found that sexual harassment within a university was illegal. In 2012, she was included by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on its list of the most influential people in the history of Title IX, the US anti-discrimination law.

Women in the UK and around the world continue to be underrepresented in the top management ranks.

Not only do women face more obstacles and barriers as they make their way up the ladder, but the pay gap with their male counterparts widens the higher they go. The 2017 gender pay gap for the UK's nearly 3.3 million managers is now almost £12,000. The overall earnings gap for all professions is just over 18 per cent.

Dr Zelezny-Green said she recently discovered that, in her current job, she earns 30 per cent less than her fellow male directors.

Ms Wilson, of the Chartered Management Institute, said that, in addition to large, blatant instances of discrimination, many women have to deal with continual small biases.

She said, "Men are 40 per cent more likely to be promoted into top management but on the early ladder rungs women actually do better. We need another 1.5 million women in management by 2024."

Ms Morgan of the Bank of England encouraged women in attendance to be resilient and not be afraid to take risks. "Someone has got to be a mover. Why shouldn't it be you?" she said.

Ms Roberts of the Miles Partnership said leaders need to have the courage to help those below them excel and "do better than you".

She said, "Believe in yourself and be kind to other people – help them."

Ms Wilson advised attendees, "Not only should you know what you want to do, make sure you have a plan and invest in yourself."