University celebrates brilliant women

International Women's Day 2020: University of Derby celebrates the success of women in today's world

Women's Stories Event at Heap Lecture Theatre, Kedleston Road

Staff and students at the University of Derby have been celebrating the significance of the roles women play in the world today.

Since the early 20th Century women across the world have been fighting for their legal rights and equal status in society.

Unfortunately, many of these issues are still applicable to our modern society.

The event ‘Women’s Stories’ was held on March 5 by the head of Careers and Student Enterprise to discuss issues surrounding female careers.

Five successful women shared their achievements to begin the ‘Each for Equal’ campaign, before guests had the opportunity to ask questions.

The university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Kathryn Mitchell, said: “The whole of my journey has been about grafting, support and being true to who you are.

“The barriers sometimes are just in our heads, but we should not let them stop us.

“Being a woman is powerful and we must understand our roles in terms of the way we display who we are. We shouldn’t ever doubt ourselves because of barriers.”

Gender Stereotypes

Derby has the biggest gender pay gap in the East Midlands.

There are many jobs where women are getting the lowest pay because of gender stereotypes.

Many unions across the world are supporting women to get the pay they deserve.

Leah Morgan, a graduate diagnostic project engineer at UK Atomic Energy Authority who also founded the company’s Women’s Network, said: “If you notice someone working in the position that you admire, see yourself there.

“If you see someone leading their field, believe in yourself and seek to do it too.

“It is all about visibility and thinking positively about your achievements.”

Leah Morgan, Graduate Diagnostic Project Engineer, UK Atomic Energy Authority
Leah Morgan, graduate diagnostic project engineer, UK Atomic Energy Authority

Janene Scurfield, general manager of the East Midlands Rent-A-Car Enterprise, shared her personal experience.

She said: “I worked my way into the organisation, and I was the first woman promoted in the company in Europe.

“I felt really privileged to be in a ‘position of men’.

“Especially in an industry that is mainly male-dominated, there are 78 positions and only four of them are run by women.

“It is really important for me to support women around me and encourage them to see possible opportunities in the industry.”


No matter how strong, smart, supportive and emotionally courageous women can be in comparison to men, they still face many obstacles in their workplace.

We are not just talking about gender bias and sexual harassment, there are even more hurdles for women to climb the corporate ladder.

Tomar Beh, the founder of M-prez Enterprise, said: “I believe that the biggest challenges women face are confidence and self-belief.

“Women are second-guessing themselves until the opportunities are gone.

“From my personal experience, I can tell you that self-belief comes over time.

“The only way to build confidence is by doing activities you like regardless of any challenges or opinions from outside.”

University of Derby Careers and Employment Service together together with Careers Enterprise
University of Derby Careers and Employment Service together with Careers Enterprise

Women’s Empowerment

For the first time this, the Union of Students at the university has an all-female team. Female-empowered positive environments encourage individuals during their university journey.

Melanie Welaratne, vice-president for education, lived in seven different countries and has seen many inspiring women.

She said: “For me, it is all about reflecting back on the women who have allowed me to be who I am today.

“I reflect back on my role models, keeping in mind all the experience and opportunities they gave me.”

Find out more about Women’s History Month and upcoming events here.