The Aspen Institute UK, in partnership with the EU Delegation to the UK, marked International Women’s Day with an event on ‘Rewriting the Rulebook: Women shaping policy narratives.’
We were thrilled to be joined by four impressive women working in policy from across the UK and the EU. The conversation was moderated by Deborah Bonetti, the Director of the Foreign Press Association in London, and the panel included Phoebe Arslanagic-Wakefield, Chair of the Women in Think Tanks Forum; Brigid Laffan, Emeritus Professor at the European University Institute; Rashmin Sagoo, Director of the International Law Programme at Chatham House; and Dr Karin von Hippel, Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute.
The event covered a range of topics and the panellists engaged in critical debate on several important challenges faced by women in policymaking.
One of the key challenges the panel discussed was competition in the workplace and building workplace confidence amongst women. The panellists discussed the reality of working in a male-dominated field, their strategies for thriving in this environment, and the potential for imposter syndrome. Brigid highlighted the importance of having women role models and mentors, pointing out the role of honest, constructive feedback in making progression in such a competitive field possible.
Interestingly, the panellists had differing views on imposter syndrome, with Karin asserting that the experience depends on a person’s attitude, and Phoebe suggesting that it can be exacerbated for people who do not have peers in their industry, such as is often the case for women working in think tanks.
The discussion then turned to balancing family life and career success. There was agreement amongst the panellists that childcare was a key priority to ensure gender equality in the workplace, and they explored how having a family can often be an obstacle to career progression for women. Phoebe pointed out the stark inequalities in family duties between mothers and fathers and emphasized the role of culture in enforcing these gender roles.
Rashmin proposed the idea of a ‘golden ticket’ for women who are on track for leadership positions but leave the workplace temporarily to start a family. She saw this as a way to ensure women can progress to leadership positions without facing potential setbacks because of a career break. The issue of childcare was seen as a key obstacle to overcome in the fight for gender equality.
The event offered fascinating insight into the current policy climate for women.
Many thanks to all the panellists, speakers, and moderator, and special thanks to the EU Delegation to the UK for hosting and collaborating on the event.
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