‘There shouldn’t be one cookie cutter for how women want to be’: Cambridge Women in Business

Will Bennett 14 October 2017

The leadership team of Cambridge Women in Business recently took the time to chat to TCS about the things they are trying to achieve in Cambridge and their ambitions for women the world over.  ‘Loads of things is the long and short’ of what CAMWIB do in Cambridge, Lucia starts out, and this includes speakers events, a mentorship scheme with female MBA students at the Judge Business school and networking events. 

Above all, CAMWIB are looking to build a strong network of women who will support each other in their careers both now and going forwards.  I mention the frequently echoed statistic that at one point there were twice as many FTSE 100 CEOs named John as there were female CEOs.  Lucia answered briskly that ‘It’s not as binary as just John versus women. Intersectionality is important because it’s all too often privileged white men versus the rest.’ A similar women in business group recently founded in Swansea faced stigma as they tried to get things up and running.  No doubt there is opposition here as per Swansea, UCL, LSE and KCL whose Women in Business groups are developing links with CAMWIB for the year ahead.

At the Freshers’ Fair, CAMWIB themselves were on the receiving end of dissent from one plucky fresher who decided to declare the society sexist.  The mantra that the society is open to ‘all friends of women’ came through strongly in our chat, and his was a rare reaction to a group dedicated to inclusivity and diversity.   Diversity has been the group’s ‘buzzword’ for the past five years.  ‘Historically, feminism has been white privileged women’ Jayna remarked, adding that it was also the topic of her dissertation.  CAMWIB throw a lot of weight behind getting all women involved in their initiatives, co-hosting their network launch later this year with the Afro-Carribean Society, where social entrepreneur Natalie Campbell will be the flagship speaker. The editorship for an upcoming policy paper in collaboration with The Wilberforce Society was also opened to women from FLY and ACS before being open to all.  

Jayna pointed me towards an article in The Economist on the gender pay gap which asserted that a big part of the problem was that women often take time off work or quit altogether at the sort of age when employees might start to win managerial roles.  The paternal leave is often too short to be of any real help, and one Dutch father interviewed by The Economist said that even Google was against him, correcting his search relating to fatherhood and work to ‘motherhood and work’.

Unlike lots of societies, CAMWIB conduct their initiatives with serious thought.  ‘Networking events can be really intimidating’ and CAMWIB have successfully created the ‘ethos of a network of women’.  The platform CAMWIB has created provides career opportunities but also fosters a wider web of women who spread their message and teach other women to ‘never ever ever think there’s one way to be.’