đź“ťConference Notes #1: QMUL Women’s Cafe, March

📝Conference Notes #1: QMUL Women’s Cafe, March

The POC2 team attend different conferences regarding diversity and try to take as best notes as they can. The “Conference notes” series is a summary of these events and are comprised of: any topics that they found interesting, talking points and/or links to resources that were mentioned.

The Women’s Cafe is an event run on the last Monday of every month organised by the QMBreakthrough team. It is a networking opportunity run for and by women of colour to talk about their experiences in all academic fields. More information can be found on their website here: https://breakthroughbangladeshiwomen.wordpress.com/the-womens-cafe/ and on their twitter @qmbreakthrough.

Official poster of the Womens cafe. Taken from the QMBreakthrough website. Information can be found at the bottom of the handout.

I’ve attended most of these cafe’s, and they only increase in popularity each time. It is a lovely environment with food that covers a range of dietary requirements and non alcoholic drinks, but the true star is the community of women of colour who attend. Hearing their experiences, many of which mirror my own, is extremely refreshing and I can only recommend attending yourself if this seems like something of interest to you – you don’t realise what you’re missing out on.

The following are the notes I took during the 4th cafe, which focused on WOC navigating careers. Hopefully they can inspire further thought and discussion on the topics raised. A scans of my notes and any other resources will be linked at the end of the blog post.

Careers: Issues faced as a woman of colour

  • Navigating careers in heightened racial tensions.
    • D*nald T*ump
    • Brexit
  • No opportunity for ethical careers.
    • Many graduate recruiters are very dubious (massive oil companies, huge banks etc…)
    • Ethical companies, such as charities/non profit organisations tend to be underfunded or require volunteers – graduates especially need paid opportunities to deal with the lack of money
  • WOC struggle to be taken seriously in the workplace.
  • Massive amounts of competition in graduate opportunities
    • WOC with non western names have been found to be systematically hired less in several studies
    • International students with the right to work during their stay have been denied opportunities based on vague “visa issues” even though they are legally allowed to work
    • Nepotism – many graduates with jobs in desirable fields attained it through familial connections (that women of colour are less likely to have), making it even more difficult for other graduates
  • Both general and school specific careers services not having many employees that have faced the same experiences as WOC – end up receiving vague general tips which are widely unhelpful.
  • Forced to choose being paid well vs working for a good company.
    • (This is wishful thinking, as stated before many ethical organisations very rarely have jobs and when they do they are highly competitive)
  • Travelling.
    • WOC scared to travel as they worry about racism + stereotypes
    • A lot of judgement is based on looks

Careers: Ways to survive + thrive

  • Mentoring.
    • Mentoring can be instrumental in helping WOC survive these stressful spaces
    • Reach out informally such as “can we get a coffee” and ask them their opinion on certain topics when you are there – saying directly “can you mentor me” is weird and puts a lot of pressure on the other person
  • If an environment is really bad but you don’t want to/can’t leave try taking issues to HR/as high up as you can.
    • Escalate unacceptable behaviour as you are not supposed to suffer at your work
  • Don’t be afraid to leave a toxic job if you have to.
  • Apply for jobs where you feel you are only 60% qualified so if you get them you do not get bored.

Mentioned Resources

Womens cafe scan
Scan of my notes from the womens cafe.

For more information on conferences we’ve attended please visit our resources page or read through the rest of our blog. We are constantly updating both.

Written by Karel Green. For more information see the about page or follow her on Twitter @thisismeonline.

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