In the past year, the Women’s Network has gone from strength to strength. With a multitude of events appealing to a wide range of female students, there has been an encouraging expansion of student awareness of the Women’s Network, the role of Women’s Officer, and the importance of recognising and representing women’s issues within the SU as a whole. So what does the future hold for the Women’s Network, and, more specifically, for the role of Women’s Officer? Impact spoke to Women’s Officer candidates Rose Bonner and Jennifer Ingram, and current Women’s Officer Rosie Tressler, to find out. Unfortunately, Aimee Bailey, the third and final Women’s Officer Candidate this year, was not available for interview.

Rose Bonner claims that the Women’s Network has played a significant part in inspiring her to run for the position of Women’s Officer. Not only have some committee members been “instrumental” in encouraging her to run for the position but she believes the Network has also provided her with the “essential experience” needed to be successful in the role of Women’s Officer.

Rose believes that the Student’s Union has represented women well this year, particularly in the support given by the SU Exec for a video encouraging women to stand for positions in the SU elections, created by current Women’s Officer Rosie Tressler. However, Rose comments, “progress still needs to be made, because ultimately the current SU Exec is dominated by men.”

Furthermore, although the representation of women has substantially improved, Rose still feels that as a whole, the majority of students do not know enough about the role of the Women’s Officer, the activities of the Women’s Network or women’s issues. She believes that some students still have negative pre-conceived ideas about the Women’s Network as well as the role of Women’s Officer. From her own experiences promoting the Network at the Refreshers Fair, she found that students were initially sceptical, “some students even laughed when I suggested joining the Network”, she claims. It is interesting to note however that once she informed them of the great events, campaigns and workshops that the Network organises, students became significantly more interested.

Rose ultimately hopes to broaden the awareness and representation of women’s issues by running more campaigns and using the contacts offered by the National Union of Students (NUS) to organise more workshops. Rose also hopes to continue to increase the number of talks given by inspirational women, if elected.

Fellow Women’s Officer Candidate Jennifer Ingram claims that her interest in women’s issues began long before University in the form of strong female role models whilst growing up. This demonstrates a key issue surrounding the Women’s Network and other female support groups as well: students most likely to join are those who already have an appreciation for the issues in question, and would probably already consider themselves feminists. Ingram wants to change all this and make the Women’s Network more available to all, creating a “real network” of women around campus who are aware of, and can relate to, each other. “We need more people involved”, she claims, bolstering this ambition with manifesto pledges to establish one-to-one coffee meetings and more group events. She wants these events to be interactive as much as possible, so that women can get to know each other while learning. This year, outreach events, such as all-female self-defence classes, allowed a new group of women to be introduced to the Network and visits from professional women outside the university, like Lilian Greenwood MP, gave a wider context to many Women’s Network issues.

Ingram feels that women’s issues are generally well represented by the SU and believes that the women of the campus feel empowered but that this empowerment “does not always translate into representation” within SU politics. The number of women running for positions needs to increase and Ingram plans to aid this with more events and workshops, citing the success of public speaking events this year in empowering women.

Ingram is also keen to focus on networking with other societies, and is particularly proud of the upcoming Women of Faith debate, involving various female member of other university groups. She also plans to continue the work the Network has done this year on domestic violence, claiming “women need to be educated before they leave into the big world”. In the past the Network has made donations to ‘rapecrisis’, and Ingram is considering sending volunteers to help out in the future.

Current Women’s Officer Rosie Tressler feels proud of her achievements as Women’s Officer, and is optimistic for the future of the Women’s Network. Tressler has particularly appreciated the “diversity” of the audiences that have attended the numerous events she has organised throughout the academic year, which included careers events, focusing on women working within the media and in academia, a ‘Women in Politics’ speaker event, featuring local Labour MP Lilian Greenwood, and ‘V Day’, an event in support of the struggle to prevent violence against women, which raised an impressive £500.

In terms of student awareness of the Women’s Network and Women’s Officer, Rosie feels that students on University Park campus in particular have certainly displayed greater awareness. “People on campus have actually heard of the events we have held”, she notes, and feels that the breadth with which she and the Women’s Network have publicised events, for example through various societies, through the academic departments relevant to each event, and through poster campaigns, has helped to develop this increase in awareness. Tressler does, however, regret being unable to spend more time visiting satellite campuses to engage with female students due to the time restraints imposed by the final year of her degree, and hopes that the Women’s Network and the next Women’s Officer will be able to reach out to satellite campuses more extensively.

The biggest challenge as Women’s Officer, Rosie feels, has been changing the stereotype that many students hold of the Women’s Network. “I wanted students to see that the Women’s Network is accessible, and is there to include and support everyone”, she notes, and added her hope that these efforts will provide a foundation for future progress in appealing to more students.

For any students interested in getting involved in future schemes and events held by the Women’s Network, contact Rosie at: [email protected].

Kateryna Rolle, Laura Curtis and Natasha Smith

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27 Comments

  1. My shirt needs ironing
    March 9, 2011 at 12:42 — Reply

    Stop getting published and make me some pancakes

  2. Stuart Neyton
    March 9, 2011 at 15:11 — Reply

    Dear “My shirt needs ironing”

    Thank you for posting that hilariously witty comment there. Your originality astounds me.

    Kind regards,
    Stu xxx

    (PS here’s one for you: what do you call a man who makes jokes about girls making sandwiches (or pancakes)? Single)

  3. March 9, 2011 at 16:39 — Reply

    It did seem a bit convenient having world women’s day on the same day as pancake day.

  4. My shirt needs ironing
    March 9, 2011 at 18:54 — Reply

    Stu, not gonna lie your stung. I’ve never felt so hurt (well apart from that time I had a wank with a whisk).

    But don’t even try and match me for jokes mate, it’s like watching The Darkness trying to cover a Beatles back catalogue.

    Now I’m going to listen to those legends that are Richard Keys and Andy Gray on talksport. Supposedly they have women in bikinis walking round their studio serving gin and tonics. So classy…

  5. Anon
    March 10, 2011 at 05:31 — Reply

    @My shirt needs ironing – seriously, how you managed to get into this university is beyond me. You are an embarrassment.

  6. My shirt needs ironing
    March 10, 2011 at 11:26 — Reply

    I will not be silenced!

    I say to you, people of Libya, you too can taste this freedom. Just believe. For God’s sake, just fucking believe.

  7. Aimee Bailey
    March 10, 2011 at 12:19 — Reply

    Hi,
    I’d like to clarify the reasons why I was unavailable for interview. I was experiencing log-in problems with my email account for a few days and wasn’t aware that Impact wanted to contact me until Tuesday to which I replied immediately. Then I was asked to conduct the interview over the phone, which I was more than happy to do, but it seems I was only given a few hours chance to do this as when I returned home I found out it was too late. So I’d like to take the opportunity now to comment on some of the issues raised in this article.

    Personally, I don’t feel like women’s issues are adequately represented in the SU. While the Women’s Network has run some really fantastic events this year, helping with career building for example, we haven’t really seen many visible campaigns around campus. Although I found the poster/video campaign to encourage women to run in the SU elections successful, I think there is definitely space to a more pro-active approach to be taken. This is especially important considering it has been commented throughout this election that many students find the SU as a body alienating anyway. If there weren’t issues left to fight for, I don’t think I would’ve had to spend my Fresher’s Week hearing songs about how ‘girl from X hall has got X STI’ and feeling unsafe walking through the Downs in the dark. So I’d really like to see the Women’s Network lobbying the university to get better lightning on the Downs and actively ensuring that any female student doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable due to gender discrimination and misogyny. This is going to be increasingly important in the next few years as 72% of cuts are going to be taken from women’s pockets. This is something I’ve been really pleased to see during my involvement with the LGBT at Nottingham and I feel like it’s something I could transfer to the Women’s Network if I was elected.

    Since women make up 52% of the population, I think it would be ridiculous to assume that all events are going to appeal to all women all the time. I agree that there are negative preconceptions that stop many women from wanting to be affiliated with the WN- the idea that you have to be a “man-hating lesbian” to be care about women’s issues perhaps- and I think that if many of these people came along to events they would see that this is not the case at all. I strongly believe that we should not have to compromise our aims but try to diminish the false stigma that affects the women’s movement and reclaim the dreaded “f word”.
    With this in mind, I think it’s important that we, as the Women’s Network, reflect the issues and inequalities most prominent in wider society.

    I think it’s within all our interests, regardless of gender, regardless of whether we’re going to Women’s Network events, to have a Women’s Officer if we care about equality at all. The other candidates and I were asked at SB CQT whether we thought that it was our responsibility to educate men about feminism. Well, yes. While women are disproportionately affected by domestic violence and rape, while women are still paid less, while women are still subject to extreme critique of their appearance and “slut-shamed”, while power is still in men’s hands, while we still experience transmisogyny in society, it is important to educate EVERYONE about women’s issues.

    • Tash Smith
      March 10, 2011 at 17:29 — Reply

      @ Aimee Bailey,

      I am very sorry that we were unable to conduct an interview with you in time for the publication of this article.

      I was working to a very tight schedule with this piece, and had the absolute final deadline of sending it for publication by Wednesday – this was the very latest it could go up. I therefore had to collate all interview material on Tuesday evening at the latest, and send off the finished piece.

      Unfortunately, (and by no means am I suggesting that this was your fault) we had difficulty getting hold of your contact details, and I am sorry that you had trouble logging in and therefore did not receive the email Kateryna Rolle sent to you. I told Kat to wait until 8pm for a call from you; unfortunately, this did not leave you much time to respond, but there really was nothing else we could do.

      On behalf of Impact, I apologise for the situation, and regret that you were unable to make your views heard within the article – we really did hope to include your contribution. I wish you the best of luck tomorrow night.

  8. rich
    March 10, 2011 at 13:02 — Reply

    Fairly sure you just made transmisogyny up. Does it mean being mysogynistic to transexuals?

  9. Phil
    March 10, 2011 at 13:53 — Reply

    Well said Aimee.

    @My shirt needs ironing: The truly tragic thing about your Libya comment is that women are being systematically oppressed across the Middle East, perhaps more so than anywhere else in the world, even in Egypt where things have started to get worse for women than they were even under Mubarak. I hope that the next Women’s Officer will provide advocacy and support for women’s rights worldwide and not only focus on oncampus issues.

  10. Laura
    March 10, 2011 at 14:50 — Reply

    Aimee, well said indeed.

    It seems a shame that you weren’t given adequate opportunity by Impact to be interviewed, but I think your comment here more than reflects why you are right for the role.
    I have been present at one of the Candidate Question Time sessions for Women’s Officer, and I honestly felt that you were the only one of the candidates who truly grasped what the role of the Women’s Officer requires. I think you are right to note that it is ridiculous to assume that all women will want to come to the WN events – we are never going to please all women all of the time. Yes, the Women’s Officer should be a representative of all women, and campaign about issues that affect women students. However, if we dilute the aims of the WN to simply being some sort of coffee club where women students meet and chat (because we don’t want to offend those students who are scared of feminism), then is there much point in having a WN anymore?
    I think people should look at the policies of all of the candidates, and have a good think about what they really want from a Women’s Officer – a coffee date or a strong, outspoken woman who will stand up for what is right, campaign against discrimination, and promote the interests of women on campus? I know which one I choose!

  11. March 10, 2011 at 17:20 — Reply

    @ Aimee
    “This is going to be increasingly important in the next few years as 72% of cuts are going to be taken from women’s pockets.”

    Out of curiosity – where did this statistic come from? This is an idea I’ve not heard before.

  12. Anon
    March 10, 2011 at 17:59 — Reply

    Why is rape crisis written as one word and in inverted commas in this article?
    The money raised this V Day and by the Women’s Network previously is donated to Nottingham Rape Crisis Centre, a charity which offers support and advice to women and girls aged 14+ who have been raped or sexually assaulted in any way.
    For more information: http://www.nottinghamrapecrisis.org.uk/

  13. Jennifer Ingram
    March 10, 2011 at 23:03 — Reply

    The above comments entirely represent WHY a Women’s Officer is not sexist and entirely necessary. You make jokes around female roles yet 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime!! You think its funny to joke about ‘getting back in the kitchen’ or ‘making your pancakes’ when gender based violence causes MORE DEATHS and DISABILITIES among women aged 15-44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents AND war together. Come on.

    The job of a Women’s Officer is to represent ALL the women within the SU, together we are stronger and this DOES start with making connections, with making people aware, and laugh – but it begins with a smile 🙂 a chat 🙂 an empowerment to suggest that this CAN and this WILL change, and that together this generation can put across and ABSOLUTE – no tolerance policy! This generation CAN help to make equality a reality for many women all over the world who feel misrepresented or who have been abused.

    I cant wait to continue the work in the Network whether i am elected as officer or not. There are 3 wonderful women running for this role and know a brill job will be done whatever tomorrows outcome! I personally feel the balance between a dedicated passion and determination for a better world AS WELL as the privilege to work alongside and fairly represent our female students within the UoN, is something to be massively proud of, something which i very much hope all females with all ideals can be a part of – together, we are stronger.

    Germaine Greer – “The opposite of patriarchy, is not matriarchy but fraternity”

  14. Sarah
    March 10, 2011 at 23:11 — Reply

    When the most crucial aim of any women liberation group is to educate society about the issues facing women, would you not want to all stand together. The aim of the ‘network’ is surely that; to network, and I hope the next women’s officer does just – networks and joins together as many women as possible, so that they can be educated and help spread the message. Why are specific words and definitions so important (I.e. Feminism), if just the word scares people off, then tray them about women’s issues without that word. I am looking forward to the open and welcoming coffee mornings!

  15. Sarah
    March 10, 2011 at 23:12 — Reply

    Tray=teach on an iPhone

  16. Anonymous
    March 11, 2011 at 00:03 — Reply

    I just want to see what the candidates make of this point (not that it’s necessarily one that I personally believe to be true):

    “With two of the three candidates running for women’s officer being from two very large and influential student bodies i.e. LGBT and Christian Union, isn’t there a great risk of these candidates imposing an agenda tailored to the needs of THOSE societies onto the female student body? And also d0es this same thing not give the two candidates an “unfair” advantage in terms of social networks (because if we’re honest – a lot of people will vote for their friend without a second look at their policies)?”

    Just want to see how the candidates respond.

    Regards.

  17. Jennifer Ingram
    March 11, 2011 at 01:41 — Reply

    Thankyou for raising that question 🙂 i think that to a certain extent, policies can be overlooked simply just to vote for a friend, but i cannot stress enough how i have encouraged friends to look at my manifesto, taken time to explain it, as well as bullet pointing my aims on the back of every leaflet i have given out, indicating how i hope to best represent females in our union, as well as detailing some of my ideas and aims for next year.

    I also believe that it is unfair to judge a candidate on the societies that they join, suggesting an unfair advantage simply because of their way of life or belief. Should i not be allowed to run for a position if i was involved in over 5 SU Activity groups due to exposure to too many people?

    However, i do think you raise a very important issue on imposing an agenda onto the female student body. Personally, as a Christian, i hope to live in a way that puts people first, and that is caring to all and is respectful. Christianity itself in some form poses many interesting debates affecting females, for examples, women in leadership, women’s roles and modesty etc, which i believe does need to be discussed but certainly not ‘imposed’ as you put it. I also cannot think of any “needs” of the CU that I could impose upon the female student body, unless, without sounding cringey, a need to be a complete service dedicated to all women, a need to not judge, to listen and fundamentally to care. To ‘be there’ and to provide the best support and encouragement for women within our SU

    I feel that being a part of the Christian Union has no negative impact on way i would work as Women’s Officer but that it has in fact taught me valuable skills, and if i am lucky enough to be elected, could only benefit the way i would work. I am proud to be a Christian and know i would work for women in a way which was pleasing and beneficiary to all. I will be sure to stick to the fair policies i have outlined, placing a heavy stress on the equal representation of all women, despite religion, creed, colour, sexuality, background – simply because that is what is right, true and good. Together as women, as a network, we are stronger, and together we will be empowered speaking out against injustice and discrimination which is all too often thrown at women all over the world including our own female student body at the UoN. Lets banish it together!

    I hope that answered your question adequately, please do feel free to come back at what i have written though :).
    Many thanks

  18. March 11, 2011 at 02:15 — Reply

    1) LGBT is not a society.
    2) The CU is very large and influential? If only! I will offer only 1 example: Last year, Phil Whitehead (who had more involvement with the CU than Ingram currently has) ran for education and came 4th out of 5 candidates.
    3) The 3rd candidate may have a social network from being on the women’s committee, her course friends, the people she lives with. Will she force the view of her faculty on the Women’s network?
    4) The current LGBT officer was previously Women’s officer. She has done a fantastic job as LGBT officer. If you think she has been “imposing an agenda tailored to the needs of” the Women’s Network on LGBT then I suggest you take that up with her. However, I am sure that, like me, you will recognise that her commitment and ability to represent her constituents has been very good.

  19. Laura
    March 11, 2011 at 10:53 — Reply

    @jennifer,

    I remain unconvinced by the idea that people will want to come and chat and have a one on one coffee with the Women’s Officer. Office hours may be a viable option to connect individually with women students, but as a strategy to bring more people into the network? I just can’t see it. It seems to me that students live busy lives and you need to convince them that taking time out of their day to do something with the women’s network is worthwhile. Now, I’m sure you’re a lovely, friendly person, but I can’t see that many people wanting to spend an hour of their day having coffee with a stranger when they could be doing so with a friend. The WN needs to offer something to engage students, something empowering, educational, inspiring, something that will make them think it’s worthwhile to take time out of their day. I see this happening through interesting and engaging events.

    I am also concerned that the word you keep bringing up is ‘fraternity’, which means ‘brotherhood’ – seems a little strange given the context, no?

  20. Aimee Bailey
    March 11, 2011 at 11:48 — Reply

    I wholly agree with Frank’s points 1,3 and 4.

    Firstly, I don’t like the assumption that being involved with another society or network instantly merges your agenda with theirs and disregards any other. If this was true, I’d be better off running for LGBT Officer. I joined both networks on the same day in Fresher’s Week and have been to a similar percentage of events. Yes, LGBT has been influential during my time here but what I would to transfer to the WN is much more “how to run successful events and campaigns” than any kind of “gay agenda”.

    Being involved with LGBT this year has given me valuable insight into cross-liberation- not just the issues facing lesbian and bisexual women but transwomen too- who possibly have the least rights out of any minority group of women. I am a huge advocate of cross-liberation in all areas, including BME and disabled women- networks of which I don’t personally define into-and that can only be a positive thing. If you were to remove any of this diversity, you’d have a weak movement on your hands.

    LBT women have been notoriously strong supporters of women’s rights for decades, fighting for issues- such as abortion- which are less likely to affect them anyway. 2 out of 3 Women’s Officers so far have been heavily involved in the LGBT and from what I’ve seen and heard it hasn’t been remotely detrimental.

    The first part of the WO’s job description is to represent all women students within the university. In order to do this successfully I think you have to maintain a liberal outlook and I don’t think that being LBT would make me “torn” on any issues that might be brought up in the same way that being part of a more conservative group might.

    I think it shows little faith in the student population to assume that everyone is just going to vote for their friends regardless of policy. Even if this was the case, you could just as likely acquire a large group of friends with no network or society involvement at all. Influences come from everywhere and I think LGBT, especially here at Nottingham, can only really be a good one.

    • Compassionate Conservative
      March 11, 2011 at 13:28 — Reply

      Paraphrase: liberals are nice, conservatives are evil. Thanks, Aimee, for that nuanced and helpful political insight.

    • Rob
      March 11, 2011 at 23:35 — Reply

      Don’t forget class as an underpinning oppression. Big difference between rich and poor in each of those groups.

  21. Laura
    March 12, 2011 at 11:59 — Reply

    @compassionately conservative, I’m pretty sure Aimee never said that. You’re projecting.

    Also, shame about the result. But well done Aimee for a really strong campaign.

  22. Jennifer Ingram
    March 12, 2011 at 13:39 — Reply

    Laura,

    The coffee plan is mainly to provide to women who perhaps want to talk things over, to help network and make friends and hopefully who would love to get more involved in the network. This part of my campaing is merely to provide a strong support for women and allow them to know they have someone whom they always can come and talk to, the idea is not to be a ‘stranger’ but someone who will be there for them 24/7.

    I am so excited to be running events, workshops, and various campaigns to provide empowerment, education, and inspirtaion to students as you will see from my manifesto and i feel by getting to know the students, i can get to know what they will benefit most by – or how i can best represent them so to make their university lives some of the BEST and most supportive they have had! Please do check out my policies, i really hope you will like them and continue to be involved with the Network :). I want to ensure i do everything i can to support you as well as lead the Network in a way which is accessible and educational to all. We are so much stronger together.

    No, i think brotherhood is fine because of the context. The opposite of men ruling is not women ruling, but a powerful equality and mutual ruling of both sexes. Women have come a long way, but we still have more action to take.

    Hope you have an awesome weekend xx

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