Reflections on International Women’s Day 2023
By Professor Lesley Haig, Vice-Chancellor of AECC University College
“In my role as the first female Principal and then Vice-Chancellor at AECC University College, the theme for International Women’s Day 2023, #EmbraceEquity, feels a particularly poignant and powerful one.
“Gender bias is faced by all women at all levels, something which is often invisible to many of my male colleagues and friends.
“The latest figures announced this month state that less than 25% of the world’s top universities are run by women. We are particularly fortunate therefore to have so many women in positive and prominent positions across Dorset, including our own Board Chair, Jeni Bremner; the Board Chair at Arts University Bournemouth, Dorothy Mackenzie; and Principal of Weymouth College, Julia Howe.
“We also have some extremely high-profile appointments in health and care including Jenni Douglas-Todd, Chair of NHS Dorset; and its CEO, Patricia Miller; Chair of the Dorset LEP, Cecilia Bufton; and their Executive Director Vinita Nawathe.
“Although the inaugural celebration of International Women's Day took place in March 1911, the World Economic Forum has stated that gender parity is about a century away. This campaign is therefore needed as much for future generations as it is for people today.”
Promoting Equity at AECC UC
“Here at AECC University College, we are committed to equity for women, whether providing mentoring opportunities for our staff, empowering women’s health choices or supporting women to perform at the highest levels of sport.
“We launched a pilot mentoring programme for female employees in 2021-2022. Six members of staff received mentoring by female mentors, which saw four of them promoted into new roles. We are currently running the second iteration of this scheme and hope to build further on this success in the future.
“Our on-site Chiropractic Clinic offers a free Newborn Feeding Clinic for breastfeeding mothers and their babies, delivered in partnership with midwives from Bournemouth University. This service provides support for mothers at a time which can be extremely challenging. We see over 350 mothers and babies a year, and the service helps support over 100 Chiropractic and Midwifery students in their learning and professional development.
“We are proud to have supported some of Dorset’s most talented female athletes. These currently include 19-year-old Brooke Ironside – a Team GB 100m, 200m and long jump athlete. Brooke is the fastest female in her age category in the South of England and ranks third in her age category in the UK for 200metres and long jump. She is currently working with our Human Performance Lead, Phillip Heritage, in our Clinical and Rehabilitation Services to help develop and optimise her performance.
“I’m aware of a number of events taking place locally today, to mark this year’s International Women’s Day. The Dorset Chamber is hosting an event hosted by three female chamber presidents and this Thursday 9th March, Dorset will be hosting its first Women's Health Symposium.
“I wish you all a wonderful International Women’s Day wherever you are and whatever you are doing. We still have a lot of work to do but we can achieve positive change for women.
“As the International Women’s Day movement states: the quest for equal opportunities is no longer sufficient, since ‘equal isn’t always fair’.
“International Women’s Day 23 provides an opportunity to raise awareness, to value and #EmbraceEquity and commit to providing women with access to what’s required to succeed.”
Read more about International Women’s Day 2023.
Professor Lesley Haig is Vice-Chancellor of AECC University College. As Chief Executive Officer, Lesley works in close consultation with the Board of Governors and Senior Members of University College staff, and with a wide range of internal and external constituencies to provide the personal and professional leadership to develop the institution in accordance with the strategy, directions and guidelines set by the Board.
Above: Professor Lesley Haig