International Women's Day 2022 - Meet some of our inspirational women

8 Mar 2022

For International Women’s Day we want to say a big thank you to all the brilliant and inspirational women who work in healthcare here in Devon. The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E) has teamed up with Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) to talk to eight women who work across Northern to Eastern Devon, to hear about their experiences and hopes for the future.

Zahara Hyde - Programme Director Our Future Hospital NDHT

On International Women’s Day, I celebrate that women have more opportunity, more choice and yet more challenges than ever. As well as mothers and the keystone of many families, women now fulfil many leadership roles.

In the NHS I have seen more women in senior roles than any sector I've worked in, but also many women in roles throughout the service who inspire me every day, and inspire the next generation with their achievements. 

Rowenna Rutherford - Administration Transformation Programme Manager RD&E

We are so lucky here to have great examples of women who lead our services; financially, clinically and operationally. I feel grateful to work in an organisation where my gender hasn’t stopped me from achieving all of my career ambitions.

I spent many years in IT, one area that has more men than women but, regardless of gender, I led a team at a senior level. I feel really proud of being a senior manager here at the RD&E and I hope I’m setting a good example for my teenage daughter; that she can do anything she sets her mind on.  

Leigh Mansfield - Programme Director Vaccination Services RD&E

Building an equitable future for everyone, that is inclusive and committed to equitable change is really important to me, particularly as a Mum to two teenage daughters. Not only is equality an ingredient for a healthy environment, we know it drives confidence and productivity too.

I am privileged to have been supported by, and work with, many female role models in my personal and professional life. My ethos is to be authentic and practice transparent behaviours and I certainly encourage our daughters to be the same. I love this quote by Brene Brown; ‘Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart. Just be you’ 

Dr Sarah Johnson - Consultant Radiologist, Associate Medical Director NDDH 

My year group at medical school was the first to be 50:50 male to female which was a true milestone for women in medicine. I have certainly encountered some challenging behaviours relating to gender, but I take pride in calling it out.

I am proud to be a woman in my position, I love my job and the ever-changing challenges it brings. I hope my daughter starts on a more level playing field, but I don't doubt she will challenge and enjoy as much as I have! 

Sharifa Hashem - Inclusion Lead RD&E

International Women’s Day is a chance to reflect on the achievements of women globally, as well as the work which still needs to be done. It’s important to look at ways in which marginalised groups and individuals can come together to create a safer and more equitable world for all.

I have always pushed against gender boundaries created by society in the hope that the future generations can have less boundaries to fight against.  

Natalie Turney - Catering Admin Team Leader RD&E

I hope that for the generation to come gender inequality won’t be an issue, but it’s important that we remember how things have developed. It didn’t just happen, we had people like the suffragettes who took big risks for us, it takes people to make things change for the better. 

I volunteer for the Brownies and I always tell the girls not to think of their future in terms of gender stereotypes. And it works both ways too, both girls and boys should follow their dreams and not worry about stereotypes around what they can and can’t do. 

Laura Hobson - Head of Patient Flow NDHT 

I’m lucky to have worked with some amazing and inspirational women during my career and especially in the last couple of years I’ve seen such strength and compassion in my female colleagues.

I’ve picked this picture as it’s myself and a couple of nursing colleagues - it reminds me of the importance of team work and how respecting each other’s strengths can instigate big changes. 

Jess Duckworth - Clinical Fellow RD&E

I’m really excited to see all the incredible women across the hospital be celebrated! Gender equality has come such a long way in the NHS and beyond - I’ve certainly found the RD&E to be an incredibly supportive and inclusive place for women in healthcare.

Most importantly, let’s continue to support each other every step of the way. 



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