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Let’s Sit at the Table for Women’s Empowerment


Middlesex University Dubai’s Dr Cody Paris and Dr Heather Jeffrey were recently invited to contribute to Evolvin’ Women’s third ‘Let’s Sit at the Table for Women’s Empowerment Through Education’ roundtable which seeks to explore ways to encourage female students to enter non-traditional job fields within the hospitality industry.

Evolvin’ Women, founded by Assia Riccio-Smith, is a social enterprise focused on providing free education, work experience and networking opportunities to women from developing countries in the hospitality industry. The ‘Let’s Sit at the Table’ is a series of seven roundtables launched in partnership with The Retreat, Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel in September 2017. The aim of the series is to understand more about best practice when it comes to attaining more women in senior leadership positions within the hospitality industry in the region and to support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UAE’s Women Empowerment Principals (WEPs) taskforce of which Assia is a member. Dr Belisa Marochi, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Middlesex University Dubai, and the academic UN Global Compact academic co-lead for Women Empowerment Principals Taskforce UAE has contributed to the previous roundtables and facilitated the contribution.

Additionally, first and second year media students participated in the event as engaged audience members, asking valuable and interesting questions at the end of the panel discussions. The students also had the opportunity to gain valuable contacts for campaigns they are creating on gender equality. Lecturer in PR and Media Studies, Stephen King, accompanied the students and commented on what a great experiential learning experience the session was.

The panel brought together key stakeholders from the education and hospitality sectors in the United Arab Emirates, although this seems to be a much wider reaching issue, a recent study estimated that around 80% of head chefs are male in the Republic of Ireland and in the United Kingdom approximately 23% of chefs are female. Many of the ideas emerging from the discussions centred on the availability and presence of role models as mentors, the high school curriculum and wider stereotypes. In two months’ time stakeholders will once again sit at the table with Evolvin’ Women to try to develop tangible outcomes focusing on the encouragement of female students to enter non-traditional professions.

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