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Reflections on the relaunch of Women@OU

Josie Fraser cutting a cake

The relaunch of the Women @OU network focused on connections and questioning the status quo, as over 100 colleagues came together at a special event in the week of International Womens’ Day in March. 

The Women @OU Network exists to promote gender equality and is inclusive of all members of the University. It is a collaborative group which enshrines the core values of being inclusive, innovative and responsive.  

Chair of the Network, Lisa Harris, opened the event by urging everyone to challenge the phrase, “That’s just the way things are”, saying,

“If we are going to get balance and true equality, then we must erase this phrase, along with the rules it relates to.”   

Inspiring and informative speakers 

Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Josie Fraser, who is the Women @OU champion, talked about the challenges still facing the Higher Education sector in terms of equality. She said:

“We miss a huge opportunity when we allow the status quo to dominate.

Senior Lecturer in Economics and Personal Finance, Jonquil Lowe, then presented on the financial situation facing women, touching on parental leave with an interesting comparison between the take up in the UK and in Scandinavia. Speaking about how “social norms are damaging for women”, Jonquil outlined how women often take career breaks, work part time and face lower lifetime earnings.  She gave six tips on how women can reject financial frailty: 

  1. Recognise value of unpaid work in the household finances 
  2. Recognise right of non-earner/lower earner to use household income for self, including saving 
  3. Take a precautionary approach to assets e.g. way a home is owned, emergency fund 
  4. Be aware of the short- and long-term cost of caring decisions 
  5. Be aware of traps in the tax and benefit system 
  6. Be willing to engage with the principles of financial planning 

Jonquil’s final message was:

“You can’t bury your head in the sand. Recognise the risks and your financial goals, what you can do today to be resilient and achieve your goals.

Connecting can be positive

Lisa Harris concluded the event with a call to connect:

Connecting with people can be a really positive experience and connecting with people brings rewards.  It boosts confidence, helps you feel you are not alone in a situation, and can give you the courage to challenge yourself.  We make connections every single day and all of our networks are probably bigger than we think.   

I see the Women @OU network as being a place for us to make new connections, to nurture old ones and to encourage action based on the confidence those connections give us.”

The Women @OU Network has a programme of events planned for 2019 – you can find out about these on our downloadable flyer. Please contact us on ou-women@open.ac.uk if you have any enquiries.  

Contact us

There are several ways you can contact the committee:

Email: ou-women@open.ac.uk

Twitter: @women_OU

Yammer: WomenAtOU

Or in person at one of our events.