By Siobhán O’Connor
To all you ladies out there who might be looking for some additional support and networking opportunities during your postgraduate studies – check out the British Federation of Women Graduates. It was established in 1907 to help women in all countries fulfill their potential by supporting women’s opportunities in education and public life and fostering local, national and international friendship, thereby improving the lives of women and girls across the world. BFWG specifically supports female students at universities across the United Kingdom by:
- Providing postgraduate awards for academic excellence through the BFWG Scholarship Fund Charity
- Assisting women postgraduate students through the BFWG Charitable Foundation, Funds for Women Graduates (FfWG).
- Facilitating research on Women’s Studies through the BFWG Sybil Campbell Collection housed at the University of Winchester.
- Consulting with MPs and members of the House of Lords at the annual Westminster Seminar and joining them to advance women’s opportunities.
- Participating in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) via the International Federation of University Women.
Do look at their website for more details on the scholarships and financial aid for that they offer for postgraduate studies.
The BFWG also runs an annual research day where Masters and PhD students can present their work, get feedback on their presentation skills and network with a wide range of graduate women who offer useful career and professional advice. Having just experienced this opportunity myself I would highly recommend submitting an abstract. The day was a unique mix of a wide range of research disciplines, which for a fledgling researcher can help broaden your perspective on how people approach and solve problems in different fields. Just to give you a flavor of what was presented the speakers and their topics are listed below.
- Katie Carpenter – “Housework, science and empowerment in Britain 1870-1914”
- Corina Lacatus – “Human rights by design: institutions, power and global diffusion”
- Visakha Nanayakkara – “Importance of the thumb with foldable palm in robotic grasping and manipulation”
- Rosemary Chilufya – “The emergence of social enterprise in rural regions in Zambia”
- Brandi Hill – “A study of royal female power and political influence in Ancient Egypt: understanding Neferuptah and Sobekneferu of the Twelfth Dynasty”
- Lacey Flook – “Does ‘Maths make Sense’?”
- Christina Les – “Fictional European travellers to Wales”
- Siobhan O’Connor – “Demonstrating the value of co-design: how a mobile application can impact persons with dementia and their carers”
If you think you are studying something left of field that may not be appreciated by a wider audience then don’t worry as the BFWG encompasses all postgraduate fields and promotes interdisciplinary learning. Being a member of the association, which only costs £35 for postgraduate students and isn’t a pre-requisite for presenting at their research day or applying for a scholarship, also has numerous other benefits such as the opportunity to take part in discussions with key policy makers at their Westminster Seminars where you can raise and respond to issues relating to the education of women and girls, meeting other BFWG members in friendly social local, regional and national events and supporting the education of girls in developing countries via the International Federation of University Women (FUW) and its affiliated charities.
So if this sounds like something that would benefit you during your postgraduate studies follow @BFWGraduates, browse through their website and get in touch with the office in London as they’ll only be more than happy to help.