Words from the new Chair

by Dr Kate Molesworth (1984, Biological Anthropology) – 22 September 2023
I joined the Women's Network as representative for the first decade of women in St John's history as I believe that previous cohorts of women have valuable experiences and resources to share with the College community, especially for current students and early to mid-career alumnae.

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During my time as a member of the Steering Group, I participated in our 40 Years of Women event, hosting a seminar on serving on boards and in leadership more generally. This touched at the heart of some of the dilemmas concerning young, bright, and ambitious women who expressed the need for support on how to position themselves for board recruitment as well as how to negotiate having families with their ambitions of leading businesses and institutions. A rich inter- and intra-generational exchange of experiences followed, which many participants found to be helpful in their own career and life planning. I look forward to the Women's Network creating further and broader arenas for discussion and exchange on a range of professional and personal themes of interest to women starting out in their careers, or, returning to work after caring for young children and sick relatives, as well as those firmly positioned on their career trajectories.

My work in health system strengthening for the empowerment of individuals, families and communities in resource-poor settings has broadened my engagement in the inequities and rights of women, the socio-economically disadvantaged and those who are marginalised. Recently, I presented on careers in health in the development and humanitarian sectors to the Women's Leadership Programme. This showed me the great value in alumnae established in their professions and careers sharing and exchanging with current students. I anticipate that the Women's Network will provide a platform for discussion with alumnae working in diverse fields, as well as those who have devoted themselves to family and other interests beyond our usual concept of "career". The Network's structure of Decade Representatives, as well as strong engagement from the JCR and MCR, provides pathways for us to respond to the interests of women at all stages in their life course.

Hannah Gilbert has been an inspiring Chair and is quite an act to follow. As COVID-19 confined our spheres of action and ability to meet in person, she maintained diverse, dynamics and engaging online events that stretched our minds with academic and career presentations, but also encouraged us to get creative and have fun with some home-based comforts such as chocolate truffle making. We will miss her presence in the Steering Group, but she has left a sound Network for us to develop and evolve to meet the interests and needs of St John's women present and past. Whatever the world throws at us in the foreseeable future, we have a great Network and Steering Committee with which to respond throughout changing times.


Check for updates on the Women's Network Facebook Page

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