International Women’s Day 2022: How I am breaking the bias

As part of International Women’s Day 2022, we are sharing stories of how our colleagues and students have been able to help break gender bias. In this blog, third year BSc Economics student, Hannah Boswell, explains how she is helping to break the gender bias in economics.

By Hannah Boswell.


How do you believe you have helped to break bias either during your education or extra-curricular employment?

I have been a female minority in multiple classes throughout my education, the main one being my A-level further maths class where I was the only girl. But I showed up. That’s it. I knew I enjoyed the subject and so I followed it. I am good at what I do, and my grades prove that. Just because my class looks different to me, there is no reason I should be put off. The imposter syndrome is there, yes, but having put myself in more and more of these situations, I have realised that everyone in those classes has all earned the right to be there one way or another.

Recently, I have accepted an MSc Economics offer from UCL where less than 35% of these master’s students are females. Although this is a low statistic, I can help change that just by attending. This has been a huge career aspiration of mine for years now and I would be silly to be put off by one statistic and maybe a couple of gender-unbalanced classes. I hope this would encourage other women to follow suit in future years as we see this percentage increase.

I have also found that joining groups, specifically Gals Who Graduate has helped me to find so many women like me in the same situations. It is an amazing, supportive community to be a part of and I would highly recommend that all women in academia sign up immediately! All of the girls are able to ask questions, including those on breaking down feelings of imposter syndrome, and give advice to others!

How do you feel Bristol’s dedication to gender equality, and in particular the history of Mary Paley, has helped break biases for your future? 

Since the initial step of hiring Mary Paley, the first female lecturer of Economics at Bristol University, it has paved the way for so many other women to take on roles In the Economics department here at Bristol. Having many female lecturers and staff members in the economics department has really helped myself and I’m sure many other women to feel comfortable in the space, and see it is as somewhere that we do belong. It has made a big difference to me to be able to have female role-models to go to for career and academic advice. I have spoken with these women and having talked through their career paths; it has shown me that they have been where I want to be and have so much amazing advice and support.

It has also been nice to have attended classes where the gender split is fairly even. Of course, to get a perfect split would be near impossible but I definitely feel this is improving in recent years.

I do feel like the university has more to do, especially getting women into more financial areas of economics and this must not go unnoticed.

What do you hope for the future? 

I hope that more women are encouraged into not just Economics, but other male-dominated subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, etc. We have a lot to contribute so I hope the support and the inspiration is there for future girls to take on these subjects.

I hope to see increased support and encouragement for women in these sectors. And while there are some scholarships and policies in place, we also need to see improvements in working environments and tackling harmful stigmas on women in the workplace which are unfortunately still prevalent.

What do you pledge for the future – how will you help us to forge women’s equality?

I pledge to show women and girls that male-dominated sectors are not scary and that we can use our minorities to an advantage. I aim to be a role model for other women that also feel that dreaded imposter syndrome and to prove that we deserve a place in these roles just as much as anyone else.

I pledge to keep taking advice from women in all careers who have worked their way up and to always lend a hand or give advice and support to any women that may ask for it. This is a team effort. This extends to having conversations with men in academic fields where females are a minority to change thinking and build better overall relationships.

Find out more about our International Women’s Day 2022 celebrations on our website.

In celebration of our ongoing commitment to breaking gender bias, we invite you to watch our Spotlight: IWD series. Hear from champions across our University community, past and present, who are committed to breaking gender bias.