To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, we’ve spoken to some of the fabulous women that work at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust that are inspiring future generations.
Fran Hewitt is a Senior Programme Manager at Airedale. Keep reading to find out about Fran’s role, her career to date, and some great advice.
What is your role and how did you get into the field?
I work as a programme manager supporting the Trust to try and secure funding for a new hospital as well as supporting our projects to manage our ageing estate. My background is in healthcare but I’ve spent the last 20 years focused on communications, behaviour change campaigns, and service development so in many ways it is very different!
How would you describe your role?
My role is very varied which is great as it keeps things interesting! On any given day I could be involved in discussions on structural engineering, organising VIP visits, writing briefings, presenting at national meetings or writing newsletters for our local partner organisations.
Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman?
I feel fortunate that I’ve not felt these barriers to progression but I am very aware of the unacceptable barriers that some people face because of their gender, sexuality, race or religion.
Not all barriers are obvious – there are definitely some “micro-aggressions” towards women in certain roles: those little things that are said to try and make you feel self-conscious or that you aren’t good enough. I think things are definitely changing for the better as more women feel empowered to call out and challenge these behaviours but there is still much more work to do to make the working environment better for women and trans women.
Who are the women that have inspired you?
You don’t have to look very far to find female role models – for me I had my Great Aunt Ruby who was in my eyes an absolute legend; she brought up two children alone in the 50s and 60s, and was kind and feisty in equal measure. She definitely taught me to ‘dance to the rhythm of my own mix tape’ and not feel like I had to conform to any stereotypes! My mum, grandmother and Aunt Wendy instilled kindness, generosity and a sense of charity in me and my cousins throughout our childhoods when we didn’t have a lot to give but would always share with other kids who had even less.
I also have to give a shout out to another personal hero – Dolly Parton! I was always inspired by the story of when she refused to sign away the rights to “I will always love you” to Elvis Presley at a time when women did what they were told. I admire her bravery and spirit and her commitment to supporting good causes.
What is the most powerful advice that you’ve been given?
My dad always told me that you should support and encourage other people to aim higher, learn more and be more ambitious than you – when they start overtaking you then you know you’ve done your job properly!
What is the most important message that you would send to young women thinking about their careers?
You are not in competition with other women in life so just do your thing and never mind what everyone else is up to! People waste so much time comparing themselves to others that they forget to focus on being happy and supporting one another. It’s also ok to be different or alternative – my motto is always “if you’re going to be weird, be confident about it!”
What’s the best thing about being a woman?
It’s the prerogative to have a little fun…!
On a serious note, I’m not sure that gender is really what defines any of the positives in my life. You have to work with what life gives you and do good things. Doing good is good for your mind and karma has a way of rewarding people who look out for each other!