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Keynote speaker: Ceri Goddard

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Ceri Goddard is CEO of the Fawcett Society, a campaigning group for women’s equality. She spoke at Women in Leadership on her lifelong career in equality campaigning and her thoughts on leadership, beginning with her involvement in NUS women’s campaign.

“I wasn’t really ambitious”, she told delegates. “I didn’t map out a career path to be a chief executive. Every job I’ve done just led on to the next one, and I’ve gone for what’s inspired me, what I thought was important, and where I could make a difference”

“Do what matters to you. If you don’t feel it you can’t do it well, let alone lead it”

Ceri spoke about some of the inequalities which we see in today’s political climate and society. She told delegates that 74% of recent austerity cuts have taken from women, while only one in four MPs are women, and just 5% of national newspaper editors are women.

She told delegates that these issues of inequality aren’t addressed just by getting more individual women into positions of leadership. It’s about radically altering the structure of power.

On the subject of leadership, Ceri advised delegates that “sometimes it isn’t about setting the direction. It’s about allowing people who are in a better position than you, to do that for themselves… If you’re not sure: ask, involve others. It’s better to be a human leader than an automation, and good leaders know they need support”

Even while outlying the challenges we encounter in overcoming inequality, Ceri was admirably optimistic. “I’ve seen in my time that change is possible, and I also believe that it is inevitable”

“We’re seeing a great fourth wave of feminism”, she concluded. “In this, NUS is so important. You are one of the heartbeats of feminism”

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