Opportunities for Women Graduates


Why have a special page for women graduates?

It is now almost 40 years since the Sex Discrimination Act became law, yet there are still many areas in which women graduates have yet to achieve full equality. For example:


But there is some good news …

A study by Leeds University Business School of 17,000 companies in 2008 found that having at least one female director on the board cut a company's chances of going bust by 20% and that having two or three female directors lowered the chances of bankruptcy even further!

(Statistics and examples from Prospects, the Equality & Human Rights Commission, Target Jobs, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and the Chartered Management Institute)
However, although inequality for women remains a reality, increasing numbers of women are overcoming these barriers, smashing through the “glass ceiling” and achieving their ambitions in all kinds of organisations.

Women are often chosen as leaders in times of crisis

Women are often appointed leaders of successful companies in their critical moments. For example: the appointments of the prime minister of Sweden when the country suffered as a result of the global recession and the CEO of the Sunoco oil company, appointed when its share price dropped by half. But why does this phenomenon (called "The glass cliff"), occur?
A study conducted by Caliper2 and Aurora in 2005 found a number of characteristics that distinguish women leaders from men:
  • Women leaders are more persuasive than male leaders.
  • When rejected, women leaders learn from adversity and carry on with an "I’ll show you” attitude.
  • Women leaders have an inclusive, team-building leadership style of problem solving and decision making.
  • Women leaders are more likely to ignore rules and take risks.

Despite these findings Susanna Bruckmüller and Nyla Branscombe (2010) noted that women often only became leaders in times of trouble because men lack the qualities to do so.

Success stories – women graduates from the University of Kent

Kent graduates have made a name for themselves in all kinds of career areas. Here are just a few of them:

In the media, Charlotte Green (English, 1978) was voted “one of the most beloved and trusted voices on radio” while newsreader and correspondent Shiulie Ghosh (Law, 1989) is a senior news anchor for Al-Jazeera International.
Sarah Waters (English & American Literature, 1987) is the best-selling and award-winning author of The Little Stranger, Night Watch and Tipping the Velvet. An even bigger seller is E.L. James (History) whose “Fifty Shades” trilogy has sold over 65 million copies worldwide. Poet and novelist Valerie Bloom was awarded an MBE in 2008.

Public Relations: Mirella (English, 1989) heads up the US operation of a major London PR consultancy; Belinda (English & History, 1971) is MD of the corporate practice group of a Top 10 PR agency and Rhonda (History & Politics, 1971) is now MD of a specialist Healthcare consultancy after over 10 years’ experience running her own consultancy.

Law - Ceri (English & French Law, 1979) is Head of the Intellectual Property Dept and member of the Management Board at a leading firm in Cardiff and teaches IP at Cardiff Law School; Elaine (Law, 1975) is a partner in the commercial property department at Taylor Wessing; Donna (English and Sociology, 1978) is a partner and specialist family solicitor at one of the leading, predominantly publicly funded, law practices in the country; Caroline (English & German Law, 1989) is a partner in the Property Litigation and Disputes Resolution group at CMS Cameron McKenna and Jill (French, 1992) is an employment solicitor in the European Legal & Business Affairs department of Warner Brothers. At the Bar, Louise (Law, 1986) specialises in employment law and is a part time Employment Tribunal chairman while Linda Sullivan (Women's Studies) is one of the 9% of QCs who are women.

Science & Technology: Barbara (Biochemistry, 1979) is the former Head of Applied Research at the Body Shop; Hanna (PhD, Biosciences, 1989) is a Partner at a leading firm of Patent Attorneys; Fiona (Ph.D, Biology, 1978) successfully co-founded two biotechnology companies and is currently CEO of Novacta Biosystems.

Acting on an anonymous phone call, the police raid a house to arrest a suspected murderer.

They don't know what he looks like, but they know his name is John. Inside they find a carpenter, a lorry driver, a car mechanic, and a fireman playing cards.

Without even asking his name they immediately arrest the fireman. How do they know they have got their man?

See bottom of page for solution

Politics & the Public Sector - Jane Hutt (Social & Public Administration 1970) is Welsh Assembly Cabinet Minister for Finance and Leader of the House and the Assembly Member for the Vale of Glamorgan; Sally (English, 1974) is Chief Executive of a Regional Arts Board; Jacquie (Politics, 1994) and Louise (Classical Civilisation, 1999) both joined the Civil Service through the highly competitive Fast-Stream recruitment scheme. Fu Ying (MA International Relations 1986) is the vice minister of foreign affairs for the People’s Republic of China  and the first female spokesperson for the National People's Congress.

Banking & Finance: Helen (Sociology, 1988) is global head for graduate and embark resourcing and development at Barclays Wealth: Jane (European Management Science, 1995) is a Managing Director at Citibank; Stephanie (English & American Literature, 1984) is Technical Partner at a large firm of chartered accountants,

The world’s hardest job

Rehtom Inc posted a job advert for the world’s toughest job: a Director of Operations; working 135 hours per week without breaks, working extra hours on holidays, sacrificing social life, no time off and no pay. Despite 2.7 million impressions, the advert only received 24 applicants who were interviewed via webcam.

At the end of the interview they were surprised to be told that the job they were applying for was that of a typical mother!

Business: Carolyn McCall (History and Politics) is Chief Executive of EasyJet and was voted on of the 100 most influential women in Britain by the BBC’s “Women’s Hour” in 2012.

In other areas, Rebecca (European Studies 1997) was recruited onto British Airways' pilot training scheme; Penny (Social Anthropology and Politics & Government, 1978) headed the Works of Art department at a leading London auction house.
There are many other women graduates from the University who have made a success of their life and career – some in the public eye, some within less high-profile roles and organisations and some simply on their own terms, like the teacher who summed up herself as “never going to be rich or important, but perfectly content”.


University of Kent Case-studies for women in science

Finding positive employers

These may be employers who have strong equal opportunities policies; employers where a significant number of women have achieved senior positions or employers who have taken initiatives to offer flexible or family-friendly working.

Look for employers who make positive statements about equality of opportunity in their recruitment advertising.
Use networks and professional interest groups to find out more about employers and to make contacts – see the “Links” section below for some women's networking groups.

Funding sources for postgraduate study for women students

Help and support from the Careers and Employability Service

The Careers and Employability Service is committed to equality of opportunity in keeping with the University of Kent at Canterbury Student Charter and the NUS/AGR/AGCAS Code of Practice . Click here to see the University of Kent Careers and Employability Service Equality and Diversity Statement

Although students booking careers interviews will normally be allocated to the careers adviser who specialises in their subject, please tell the receptionist if you would prefer to speak to a female adviser – see our “Staff” pages for details www.kent.ac.uk/ces/contact/staff.html


General pages on gender and diversity

Public sector bodies

Women's networking organisations – general and business

Women's networking organisations – specialised areas


See also our Self-Employment links www.kent.ac.uk/careers/selfemployment.htm#links

Other general interest sites

Answer to anonymous phone call question above

All the other card players were women.


Last fully updated in 2013