The conference, designed to empower young women to start their working lives with the tools to advance their careers, gain equal pay and to progress without a ceiling, featured an impressive panel of professionals to give their insights and share their experiences with 6.1 students and their counterparts from visiting school, Weston Favell Academy.
Guest speaker, Carole Stronach, Executive Director Global Real Estate and Facilities at Avon, addressed the agenda of the conference with her inspirational talk, ‘Empowerment: My journey to defy the odds’. Dr Melanie Crofts, Senior Lecturer in Law at De Montfort University, then took to the lectern to discuss ‘Consent and the law’.
A range of workshops was the next component of this enterprising day, delivered by experts in their fields. Jason Mayfit give an introduction to self-defence session; Martha Muir, of Durham University, delivered a workshop ‘Empowering her voice’, ‘Imagine a day – reclaiming the narrative’ was the title of University of Northampton’s Lydia Collins’ session and Dr Kimberley Hill from the University of Northampton engaged girls through her session ‘Bystander Intervention’.
After a working lunch with a careers panel discussion, with alumna Shona Guha from the National Theatre, Annie Loveday-Hill, professional operatic Soprano, and Margaret Roberts, parent of a High School alumna and Associate Lecturer in Law at the University of Northampton, girls from U5 and 6.2 joined the audience in the hall for the closing Keynote Speaker, Sally Kettle.
Adventurer and alumna of the High School, Sally, addressed the girls with empathy and humour, charting her phenomenal experiences of rowing across the Atlantic (having never rowed before!) in a 23ft wooden boat, with her Mum. Her messages resonated with the audience, leaving the memorable motto of ‘making mistakes does not mean failure’. The girls agreed that mistakes enhance learning, and that ‘challenges proffer the spark that can ignite a journey’.
Student, Emily, summed up the day beautifully, “We had some talks from very inspiring women, most of whom started out as ordinary women, like us, and I found it so very inspiring to hear their journeys. The highlight of the day was definitely the self-defence workshop – it was really empowering to know that I could protect myself. Overall, I really enjoyed the day and would love to see something similar be repeated next year!”
Charlotte commented, “The #Now’sTheTime Conference helped me to understand that we can be the change and now is the time. I learnt an incredible amount from the careers panel discussion over lunch. It opened my eyes to the working world and helped me to understand that knock-backs are not uncommon, especially helpful as I aspire to become a vet. The self-defence workshop was also fantastic. It helped us, as women, to feel confident in the way we approach uncomfortable situations. The conference helped open our eyes to real life problems but also how to overcome them. Now is the time!”