Women’s Inclusive Network

Deborah is a member of the Women’s Inclusive Network and shares with us her, often very personal, account as to why she wanted to get involved.

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My first experience of gender inequality was through observing my parents relationship from a young age. Neither of them seemed to want to move outside of their set ‘gendered’ roles.

My dad never offered to cook or clean but instead felt the pressure of not having a job for years after being made redundant and being frustrated and stressed because of it.

My mum wanted lots of jobs done round the house that my dad never wanted to do, like putting a shelf up or fitting a lock, but all she could do was moan daily at my dad. It never occurred to her to learn how to do it herself. She had even missed out on learning to drive because of being pregnant at the time and not being able to turn the steering wheel properly. She never got round to having lessons again and then complained that she couldn’t drive later in life.

She showed me a version of femininity that was a victim of the world and absolutely powerless within it. I knew I didn’t want the same future for myself.

From the Women’s Inclusive Network


Having joined DE&S recently, the Women’s Inclusive Network has given me the opportunity to meet new colleagues and share experiences and opinions on a range of topics in a friendly and supportive environment.

It is encouraging and empowering to have access to a forum to discuss women’s issues and the events have been both informative and inspiring.

The Women’s Inclusive Network has the aim ‘to positively and proactively contribute to creating a diverse workforce where women are empowered to reach their full potential.’

We hold formal monthly events to inspire our members and assist with the development of their professional careers. We have input into new HR policy and guidance in the MOD and we collaborate with other gender networks and diversity networks to share best practice and learn from each other.

From the Women’s Inclusive Network


I had a really positive experience recently when volunteering at one of our local comprehensive schools to mock interview year 10 students. This was a great day all around whereby I could share knowledge and experience to help these students with their understanding of what type of work/interviewing will be required of them as they continue forward into a working life.

My colleagues in the network inspire me with their enthusiasm and ability to organise such events.

When I discovered the Women’s Inclusive Network – South West Branch I read their manifesto and it completely resonated with me. I wanted to help make a difference to women’s lives and their professional careers and, even more importantly, show all the women here that we can do something about the inequality in work and, maybe even society itself, by working together and being there for each other.  Building each other up, instead of competing with each other and knocking each other down, in what can be traditionally viewed as the dog eat dog world of work.

I started off as meetings secretary for the network back in 2012 using skills I was already comfortable with, as at the time I was an Executive Assistant, and organization and note taking came naturally to me. Then I branched out and became the communications lead and produced articles and newsletters promoting the network. After having the chance to start a project on group mentoring, I became the mentoring co-ordinator and started mentoring groups from level 1 all the way up to Senior Leadership Group level, sharing experience and ideas amongst women in the business.

From the Women’s Inclusive Network


The ‘Building Confidence’ Workshop organised by the network really aided me to keep going in a tough situation. The relevant content and open and honest discussions enabled me to reflect on my current strengths, weaknesses and ability to continue to develop.

This workshop turned out to be perfectly timed, as my current role was about to get a lot harder – knowing that people that turn around a messy situation are people that go onto greater things was a great motivator! This is first event I’ve been able to dip into so the Women’s Inclusive Network really has the potential to help myself and others even further.

Doing these different roles gave me the opportunity to do work outside of my day-to-day job, to creatively write as well as facilitate events and group activities, to push myself to learn new skills and interact and collaborate with people outside of my team area. Best of all it was a safe environment, where I could make mistakes but no one was going to criticize me, they were just going to encourage me, give me developmental feedback and a fresh opportunity to try again.

We were all volunteers, giving what we could to the network and sharing our positivity and enthusiasm to inspire others.

The best aspect of a diversity network is this supportive element. As the now Co-Leader for the network, its only the committee members around me that have built me up to feel I can fulfill this role, just like all the others I carried out before. For a start, they approached me to put myself forward, which I know I never would have done off my own back. And its only through a trusted partnership my with my co-leader that we have managed to accomplish so much for the network together, over the last few months.

From the Women’s Inclusive Network


The Women’s Inclusive Network is a very informative and enduring network.

From a personal perspective I’ve had great fun being part of it. I made lots of new friends, and as a former joint leader, I really had to push myself out of my comfort zone to participate and present at various events and meetings. I would say this did have a positive impact on my career.

I think there is a dominant trait in some women to simply not believe in themselves, whether this is due to girls not being encouraged to be brave and push themselves as children or whether it’s as women that we are too concerned about fitting around the needs of our families or afraid to fail, something is holding us back. And just like my mother never pursued her own personal goals, so neither would I if I didn’t have the support and encouragement of others.

The MWN has given me a home for my personal drive to change the gender inequality we experience everyday and a purpose to improve the careers of all women within the MOD.

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By |2022-03-28T14:15:41+01:00September 24th, 2018|
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