You may not have heard of the new University society Cambridge Women Who Lead (CWWL), but rest assured, it won’t be long until it is very much on everyone’s radar.
Established at the start of this term, CWWL was founded by Churchill student and JCR President Hannah Saint. Hannah’s aim is to highlight the many different types of female leadership and provide inspirational role models for Cambridge students, from those at the forefront of their careers, to those leading a Society or sports team, and everything in between.
Within days of Hannah originating the idea for CWWL, she had created a team and outlined the structure of the society and her goals for the term. She wanted a leadership programme for female and non-binary students at Cambridge to include events, workshops and a website that would allow writers to publish their articles to, for and about female leaders. Within three weeks the website was set up, the logo designed and talks with female leaders from across academia, the arts, media, journalism and more were organised.
After launching on the 21st January, the group had 77 members in the first 24 hours, and over 100 in the first week. Hannah explained that there had been such a fabulous choice of interesting speakers and writers given there are so many excellent examples at Cambridge and beyond. She was so impressed by the generosity of speakers – giving their time and advice so enthusiastically. They have already had four very successful events, and the last of the term was a conversation between the Masters of Churchill, Newnham and Jesus: Professor Dame Athene Donald, Principal Alison Rose and Sonita Alleyne, OBE, FRSA. They spoke about the ways in which Cambridge has changed since their time as undergraduates, their careers in STEM, diplomacy and broadcasting, the role of a Master, and celebrating female and non-binary spaces in Cambridge.
So, what next after such a successful first term? In the shorter-term Hannah plans to hold elections to establish a committee for CWWL before she leaves for her year abroad, as well as creating more content and publicising events more widely. But that’s only the beginning. Hannah would like to see Women Who Lead established in all universities, and turn it into a start-up with investors, enabling her to build a programme aimed at those taking the first steps in their career. “I want to create a supportive and aspirational environment and bring people together so that they can cultivate a range of valuable skills before they step into the workplace. Connecting with other women and non-binary students is at the core of the Society, creating a space in which students can support each other, learn and collaborate”.
“We can achieve so much when we work together. We need to look at female leadership across all sectors and in all different forms. We don’t have to look far: my mum will always be my biggest inspiration, always encouraging me to aim high and believe in myself. Through the Society, I hope to showcase talent at Cambridge and beyond. I have learnt so much this term and I am so excited for the Society to continue growing and celebrating women who lead. Female and non-binary students, come join us!”