Today is International Women’s Day. At Frontline, we’re celebrating the achievements of all women in social work, and the huge impact they’ve had on improving the lives of the children and families they support. This week, we hear from five Frontline women – fellows and staff – about their journey to a senior position in social work.
Cordula Gwylim is one of Frontline’s trustees and a social work service manager. She grew up in Germany after being adopted by a white family (she is mixed race), and began her social work training there, before moving to Wales to start her career. She is also an entrepreneur and has set up two business alongside her career in social work.
Do you feel you faced any particular barriers as a woman as you’ve progressed in your social work career? What helped you overcome them?
Having children and being a mum was a barrier to progression in social work – weirdly, child protection is not the most child-friendly working environment! I could not progress my career easily whilst working part-time.
Are there any women who have made a difference to you in your career? Feel free to give them a shout out!
Yes – I worked with Corinna Modderman and Rehema Gakoko in Conwy. Both were kick ass – and determined to combine career and parenthood.
Around 85% of social workers are female – but over the last six years, only 50–60% of director of children’s services have been women. Why do you think that is?
There remains a bias that devalues contributions from women in comparison to contributions from men. This is particularly the case when it comes to leadership. I believe there are not enough coaching and inclusive strategies to support women into senior leadership positions.
On International Women’s Day, what advice would you give to a woman what wants to make it to a senior position within social work?
Get yourself a coach. Name and call out bias when you notice it. Name and be proud of your ambitions. And don’t accept “no” just because something doesn’t “usually” work like that! ??