International Women's Day - Nikki Andrews RD&E Portering Supervisor

10 Mar 2021

This week we are celebrating the amazing women that work across the trust. We all know that providing excellent healthcare takes dedicated teams of people all pulling together and the hospital porters are certainly no exception.

Nikki Andrews has been at the RD&E for over 26 years and is the first (and currently only) woman to hold the role of Portering Supervisor.

What are you responsible for here at the hospital?

If it isn’t nailed down and it needs moving, that’s what we’re here for! We move patients, deliver blood, pick up and deliver specimens, transfer patients from the Air Ambulance, you certainly get your steps in as a porter that’s for sure. And as supervisor I’m responsible for the team, their development, wellbeing and so on.

How has your experience of working as a woman here changed over the years?

It was completely different when I started, I joined a team where I was the only woman. It was a real eye-opener and I had to get a bit of a thick skin because sometimes the joking and banter could get sexist and inappropriate. I had to develop the confidence in myself to hold my own ground. Now understanding about equality has come on leaps and bounds and everyone is more mindful about what we say and do, so it is a lot better.

What barriers have you faced as a woman in the workplace?

It’s not a barrier exactly but even up until a few years ago I would turn up on a ward and people would sometimes react, “Oh, I was expecting a man” so I feel like I always have to prove that I can do the job. Sometimes you get guys in from agencies who seem to struggle with being told what to do by a woman. They don’t come out and say anything outright they do it by questioning you, by challenging your authority. I am quite a strong and confident woman but being forced to second guess yourself all the time can be tiring.

Are there any women who have inspired you?

I’m into music so I’ve always liked strong women like Madonna, or more recently Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B. I like that they’re all so determined and not afraid to make mistakes, they take risks and carry on, always trying new things.

What advice do you have for women working in male dominated roles like yours?

As porters we need to be a calm presence in sometimes very stressful situations and that can be challenging. I think it’s important to keep a cool head and not to let your reactions be emotionally led. I don’t mean bottle up feelings or anything like that but it’s important to develop the skill to manage emotions and know when is an appropriate time to let them out. That goes for the men too.

What changes would you like to see in the future?

Here at the RD&E I would love for there to be women in the security team. That’s not to say that the guys aren’t great but I think it would be great to add that gender balance to the team.

What would you like your legacy to be?

I’m just a small cog in a big wheel but hope I show that if you believe in yourself and do what you’re good at you will succeed and that women can be whatever they want to be.

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