I normally come away from women’s career events feeling empowered and inspired, and Monday’s event by Stylist Magazine was no different.
The Stylist Life Lessons panel discussion at Ham Yard Hotel in Soho featured three female incredible speakers: Kathryn Parsons, founder of tech upskilling company Decoded, Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, and Nadiya Hussain, winner of Great British Bake Off 2015.
Though each very different, every one of the speakers was both hilarious and poignant, as well as intelligent and thought-provoking. The theme of the event was Stylist #LifeLessons, and it was focused on sharing their most important life lesson with other women.
Each speaker was introduced and had 15 minutes to speak, and then all three participated in a panel discussion at the end.
There are too many quotes to include in full, but I just wanted to share some of the wisdom that I learned with those who couldn’t make the event.
Image: me at the event, near the back
Kathryn Parsons, Decoded
Kathryn launched her own successful startup company Decoded, which teaches coding skills to people of any gender, now in several countries. She rides the wave of many in this industry trying to increase gender diversity in a notoriously male-dominated industry, as well as upskill the general population in a world that is becoming increasingly tech-based.
- “Only 1% of the world confidently understands the technology that is changing our society”
- On things she’s been told, “Women are better nurturers than leaders”
- “Code has been branded by Silicon Valley as a very male skillset”
- “There’s no question too stupid”.
Image: Kathryn Parsons
Sophie Walker, Women’S Equality Party
Sophie is leading the Women’s Equality Party, which seeks policy change to make society fairer for everyone. Sophie stood for London Mayor in 2015, and their party campaigns for equal representation in politics, business and industry. It also promotes the idea of shared parenting, to give both parents the chance to participate equally in home and work life.
- On signing up to the newly-created Women’s Equality Party last year, ‘I thought I was going to be putting out the chairs”
- “You have to be the change you want to see”
- “Being resilient is never losing sight of the thing that is real and true to you”
- “Times of great difficulty are times of great opportunity”.
Image: Sophie Walker
Nadiya Hussain, Great British Bake Off
Nadiya has become a very high-profile woman and Muslim, and was born and raised in Luton, London. She overcame her inhibitions to appear on national TV and win Great British Bake Off 2015. It was the most watched show of last year with more than 15 million viewers. She is now a columnist in The Times, has her own travel cookery show The Chronicles of Nadiya, and has recently released a book.
- On being a stay-at-home mum and launching her career as Bake Off winner, author and TV personality, “I wish I hadn’t listened to all the negativity”
- “Stand by the choices you have made even though society thinks they’re the wrong one”
Image: Nadiyah Hussain
Each lady is breaking new ground for women in the UK and we can all benefit from following their example.
In a society where women are expected to bear the majority of the burden of childcare, as well as sustain a career in an environment where they frequently get the short end of the stick because of their gender, it can be easy to feel like you can’t win.
The summary of their wisdom is that there are changes we can make on the inside, in accepting ourselves and building self-esteem to the point where we’re not afraid to try. Equally, we must also take responsibility for educating others and campaigning for the political change that is needed to improve the position of women in society.
These women are setting an incredible example for others to follow. If you’ve been inspired, you can attend some free tech events for women in London.
You can also learn to code for free in lots of places around the UK.