The Women's Staff Network (WSN)

At the University of Wolverhampton

The Women's Staff Network:

  • Is the University of Wolverhampton's newest Staff Network, established in December 2020
  • Exists to give women staff members a greater voice in the University
  • Liaises with senior management and internal service providers to ensure the unqiue needs of women staff are met by the University
  • Works with the University on projects such as Athena SWAN, to address gender inequalities within our institution
  • Is led by a Committee consisting of a Chair and two Co-Vice Chairs. Natalia Hill is Chair of the Women's Staff Network. Natalia is supported by Co-Vice Chairs Natalie Sumner-Cole and Christina Blakey. Each committee officer has their own project stream
  • Has two Research and Resources Co-Officers - Dr Amanda Bloore and Kimberly Forlini-Softley
  • Has two Events Co-Officer posts and a Communucations Officer post which are currently vacant
  • Won a Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence 2021 for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Can be contacted by email.

More about WSN

Chair: Natalia Hill
Project Stream: Agile and Flexible Working 

I welcome the opportunity to work alongside the university in raising aspirations of women and embed behaviours and practices that identify and resolve barriers to pursuing advancement. My vision for a successful network is to bring together women from all backgrounds and experiences, develop a platform for mutual advice, offer activities for development and be a forum to discuss obstacles.  I am a single parent of two children,  a community governor, lead of a PTA, Board member of another organisation and (when crowds are allowed) a steward at the football so I know what it is like to be a very busy women in an often male-driven arena. The research area for my PhD focuses on single mothers and their transferable skills into this workplace, but I believe that most women have a wider skillset than they realise or is acknowledged. This is something I would like to try to address.

Co-Vice Chair: Natalie Sumner-Cole         
Project Stream: Health and Wellbeing

I have always been a committed advocate of gender equality in both my personal life and my professional career.  I have seen some of the positive work that the other staff networks have done within the University and I felt passionate that there should be a Women’s Staff Network, which is why I decided to stand for the role as Vice-Chair of the new network.  I know that a lot of positive progress is being made within the University in the area of gender equality through various initiatives, but there is a lot more to do. 

It is essential that women are empowered to make their collective voice heard and that there is a forum to ensure we can raise issues that might not otherwise be addressed and through which we can have our say on issues that affect women in the workplace.  The most effective and successful organisations are those which are representative of diversity and which provide an equitable workplace that supports everyone to succeed in whatever their role, ambition or circumstances.  I am very excited to be involved in the new Women’s Staff Network which will support and empower women, and help the University to drive the changes needed for a more equitable experience for all.

Co-Vice Chair: Christina Blakey
Project Stream: Pay and Progression

I am a new member of staff within the Business Engagement Team in External Engagement.  Starting at the University at the beginning of lockdown has been challenging, particularly missing out on the social and networking elements of starting a new role but the support I’ve received from colleagues as well as the openness and welcoming nature of everyone I’ve encountered has made this the easiest transition into a new organisation I’ve experienced in my career.  It is in large part, due to this that I am running for one of the two vice-chair roles for the Women’s Network.  I want to be able to provide that same welcoming support for all colleagues within the university as well as give back to the community who have made me feel so at home.

In my last role at another institution, I helped to establish the informal Women’s Network as a result of undertaking the Aurora programme with Advance HE. The learnings from this programme, hearing the lived experiences direct from the other delegates and speakers, and the connections we all made not just to each other but to delegates within other institutions really benefited my own development as well as benefited the University.  My focus in developing this network which I will seek to carry forwards if accepted as Vice Chair will be in making sure that all female voices have representation within the university and that the representations made on behalf of female colleagues reflect our individualism and experiences not just stereotypes. 

I am keen to help build a supportive network for women here at the University which shares the lived experiences for all women across the University and can advocate for gender equality and help to raise the voices of women across the institution. On a selfish note, being part of this network will give me the opportunity to get to know more people from all areas of the University.   

These are available via MS Teams.  

WSN members also meet informally each week for Water Cooler Moments on Tuesday afternoons, 1330-1430 via Microsoft Teams to drop in, have a chat, vent and share a joke. There's no obligation to attend for the whole hour - simply drop in if you want to. Following the success of Jenna Nock's Menstrual Cycle Awareness session earlier this year, members are welcome to suggest themes for future Water Cooler Moments by contacting WSN@wlv.ac.uk

For more information about the University's work on Gender Equality please read our Athena SWAN Action Plan.