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July 16, 2018

Presenting at WomenEd on 9th June at the University of Warwick – Wendy Frost

When asked by Deb Outhwaite to present at the WomenEd Conference 2018 I immediately said yes. I am a yes person. It has opened up many opportunities for me during my career, but it has also led me into some sticky situations. I said yes, then I asked what I needed to do. Deb asked me to present on my Doctoral Research; how hard could that be? Then some time later I realised how much work I had to develop, and almost changed my mind. I realised I needed to go back to what I knew.

As a Drama and Performing Arts specialist who has worked in educational contexts my whole career, I knew this was my starting point. Working with the PGCE trainees at Warwick has made me recognise how much work some people need to put into their sense of presence in the classroom. As a former performer, and an acting tutor and director, it is often difficult for me to see this. It comes as second nature to me. If I find that I lack confidence, I have the skills to make it look like I have no cares in the world. It is part of my training, and now, something I rarely think about. So how do I help others to develop those skills and to consider how they present themselves in the workplace? This was where I needed to start.

I then saw the list of presenters for the WomenEd Conference and immediately became nervous. Incredible women professors and doctors speaking about their research, education, and leadership experiences. I wanted to change my mind. I was not ready to present in a line-up such as this. Then Deb said the theme was ‘10% braver’ so I reminded myself of that. As an early career researcher I knew that I would have to take the plunge at some point. So why not now, in a place full of supportive and like-minded women!

The day was unlike many other conferences I have attended. The atmosphere was not competitive at all. The speakers shared their personal narratives which lead them to where they are today, demonstrating a resilience that is incredible to hear. My journey is not the same, but I come from a working class background where no-one went to university or achieved. A place where people struggled to afford food or clothes. My narrative is different, but still challenging. I believe it has made me a yes Person. When you grow up with no opportunities offered to you, you grab them desperately as an adult.

The end of the day concluded with me being encouraged to sit on the panel! I almost said no. But, of course I said yes! I had no idea what I had let myself in for, and did not have time for my confidence to fail me. ‘10% braver’ I told myself. I was.

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