Astronaut inspires NHS women

Helen Sharman

20 / 6 / 2016 9am

Last week female leaders from across health and social care gathered for a special session from NHS Employers dedicated to career development, opening with an inspiring talk from Helen Sharman OBE, the first British astronaut.

Around 80 delegates heard how Helen Sharman had been selected from thousands of hopeful applicants and after a rigorous training programme, had traveled to the Mir space station in 1991. Sharman, who was interviewed by Nursing Times editor Jenni Middleton, addressed the issue of gender typecasting by explaining that she had always defined herself as a person rather than a woman. She advised the female audience that if they wanted something in their career, to "just go for it".

Following the interview, delegates took part in a practical session co-facilitated by Joan Saddler, associate director at the NHS Confederation and Shirley-Baah Mensah, coach and author of No more casualties: Breaking the glass ceiling in the care profession. Delegates discussed the challenges and barriers to career progression and shared practical solutions on how to take the next step and maintain senior positions within the NHS.

The event was held at the start of the NHS Confederation Annual Conference in Manchester and was delivered in partnership with the HSJ Women Leaders Network, a community for female leaders and aspiring female leaders in healthcare. On the same day, Helen Sharman also addressed workforce professionals at the NHS Employers Workforce Summit.

If you missed the event, you can catch up on the action with our event storify and by following #NHSwomen.

The next Women Leaders event will be held in September. Visit our web page for more information about the network, including how to join.

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