Pro-women: Breakfast with Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell

Posted on 18/10/2017 by Katherine Memery

The female half of the Realm team spent this morning at the pro-women breakfast event with Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell. The event took place at the heart of Oxford Road, at the Manchester Museum; a fitting location since Professor Nancy Rothwell has been President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester since 2010.

The morning began with delicious refreshments and coffee, which we enjoyed while admiring the current exhibitions at the museum. We spoke to other attendees about the importance of pro-women events in Manchester in promoting diversity and allowing networking among minority groups. Although the events organised by the pro-women team may appear gender specific, in fact, they encourage everyone to participate.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell dedicated her morning to speak to us about her career path, favourite books and her role at the University. Although her career history is impressive, she admits that of her many achievements, none were planned. In fact, she openly acknowledged that she wanted to be an artist and dropped biology at the age of fourteen. Thirty years later, she is one of the most successful females in academia and has been recognised internationally for her research in neuroscience.

When asked about her dreams, Rothwell said she has wanted three things in life. Firstly, she wanted to carry out meaningful research that would make a change. Secondly, she aspired to become a fellow of the Royal Society. Thirdly, she wanted to gain professorship.  Although she has achieved all of her goals, she openly admits that it is expected to make mistakes. In fact, she said, that is what makes life fun.

Rothwell’s down-to-earth approach has been influenced by one book, Beyond the Boys' Club by Suzanne Doyle-Morris. She read it at a turning point in her career when she made the decision to apply for the Vice-Chancellor position at the University of Manchester. The book allowed her to re-assess her abilities and discover her leadership skills in an entirely new light. Perhaps it should become a must-read for anyone looking to start a new job or considering a career change. We will definitely buy a copy for the office!

It is not surprising that Professor Nancy Rothwell is believed to be the 14th most powerful woman in the UK. This morning’s event was an inspiring talk that was given by one of the most extraordinary, witty and charming women we have come across.

Pro-women: Breakfast with Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell


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