Reflections on International Women’s Day Talk: ‘Speak for Yourself’

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This talk was an example of what women working well together can achieve quickly! Rossana Espinoza invited me to talk about my book Towards the Compassionate University at the launch of the Advancing Women’s Leadership Special Interest Group. I know Rossana as we worked together previously at the University of Westminster, she quickly arranged for a Kindle version of the book to be offered as a prize at the launch. A 20-minute MS Teams meeting with Rossana and Clare Trembleau two days before the event, and some quick emails on Monday morning two hours before the event was all that I needed. We knew and trusted each other.

I chose to make my talk quite personal, sharing some family stories about my mum Nancy, who died on International Women’s Day four-years ago, her mother Daisy, and my daughter Hannah. On Sunday when I was thinking, remembering, and preparing my presentation I worried a bit that my stories might come across as self-centred or self-indulgent. I worried a bit knowing that not all—if indeed any—mother-daughter relationships are straightforward or easy. Then had a moment of insight. I could share some of our mother-daughter-granddaughter stories and experiences in a space of ‘knowing and trusting’ with other women. As women, we need to know and trust ourselves, and support each other to speak up and to speak out with courage, confidence and compassion.  Compassion requires action, and women working well, working quickly, and taking action together can make a difference.

 “If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission” – Grace Hopper (1906 -1992) American computer scientist and US Navy rear admiral.


In this talk, Kathryn Waddington critically reflected on her experience as a woman in leadership—and followership—roles, and the need for women to ‘speak for themselves’ in situations where their voice/s may have been unheard, or silenced. Kathryn is a principal fellow of the higher education academy and reader in work and organisational psychology at the University of Westminster. She has held academic leadership roles at Westminster and at City, University of London