Cathy provided some wonderful anecdotes based on her experiences as a journalist and first female main presenter of Channel 4 News to inspire and entertain our students and guests in the auditorium. Cathy started by drawing attention to some influential women from Leeds including Nicola Adams, Helen Fielding and Sue Ryder who have all been major influences on society in their own fields.
Cathy’s lecture drew mainly on her recent book about the ‘pioneers, revolutionaries and geniuses your history teacher forgot to mention’ and provided an insight into the lives of women drawn from many walks of life. The following are three takeaways from the lecture:
- It is important to take a historical perspective to better understand the social, economic and cultural settings that have shaped people’s lives and actions in the past and understand the implications of this when we consider the present and our construction of the future.
- Too often women are blinded to their achievements but this does not make their achievements any less important – there are many pioneering developments in a range of social, economic and cultural domains that could and should be celebrated more widely.
- In an era of fake news facts are vital – particularly in public service journalism. It can be difficult to set aside passions about issues such as racism, equality and diversity but it is important to do so and to use the facts to challenge narratives espoused by those with power and influence.
On the day that eleven men and one woman were announced as winners of the Nobel Prize, Cathy’s lecture was particularly relevant and a reminder that there is still a long way to go towards a fair society where the contribution of women are truly recognised.