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Susanna O'Brien

Candidate for Women's Officer

What do you want to achieve during your term?

Firstly, to Celebrate the contributions made by Graduate Women & Non-Binary students and showcase their wonderful accomplishments, through Graduate Talks and a photo exhibition. Secondly, by taking an intersectional perspective and closely liaising with other officers, I want to Attend to the varied needs of all graduates. Finally, I want to provide opportunities for graduates to Network with other great women, through connecting with successful alumni and mentoring in departments and colleges. Overall, I want to achieve a community of Graduate Women empowered in their current work, their personal lives, and when looking towards their future.

What experience do you bring to the role?

I’ve been involved in many groups and projects for women’s rights and opportunities. I’ve led sessions on feminism in education, contributed to organising a large event celebrating women in my undergraduate college, spoken actively on JCR motions affecting women, and helped organise fun women-only events to foster a sense of solidarity and community. I was also heavily involved in Access events in college, and independently delivered my own outreach sessions.

What do you think the relationship between the GU and CUSU’s autonomous Women’s Campaign should be?

I think the relationship should be close, and if elected I would create connections with their Grad Rep role. Having attended meetings this term, I know the committee will work hard to create a welcoming and supportive community. I therefore think that WomCam is a great space to share and seek support, which graduate women would benefit highly from. Additionally, it has run incredible campaigns, which can both directly and indirectly help grads. Their campaign on Women in Academia is especially relevant for grads in research or higher level courses, while “Women and Class” is very significant for the issue of funding postgraduate studies. As well as “Better Rights for Student Parents”, these are all examples of how the aims of WomCam and this role overlap, so it would be an extremely valuable partnership.

How would you like to collaborate with Women’s Officers in the MCRs?

Firstly, I would argue for every MCR to have a dedicated Women’s officer (currently not the case). I would then regularly meet with officers, to provide opportunities to raise college-specific issues, help them take action, share ideas for college level events/campaigns, and organise inter-collegiate events so that women can meet outside their immediate MCRs. Additionally, I would utilise their college knowledge to gather suggestions of speakers and alumni for the Celebrate events.

How do you think gender inequality particularly affects graduate and mature undergraduate women? How can this situation be improved?

The leaky pipeline effect particularly effects women at these stages, as fewer and fewer women are represented at higher levels of academia – especially in STEM. This needs to be tackled by fostering women’s sense of belonging in academia. My Celebrate and Network aims would help this, by providing role models, connecting women for solidarity, and providing important opportunities for women’s voices to be heard. The gender inequality in caring is another issue faced by many graduates and mature students who are mothers, partners or carers. To attend best to these needs, it essential for officers to work together, listen closely to women with these responsibilities, and take action (e.g. improve information about family accommodation, extra support for part-time students, and help mature undergraduates transition back into education smoothly.)