BreakThrough! is a collective of 5 Bangladeshi women students and alumni. These women make up the core organizing team who are at the heart of the project, its activities and methodology. The organizing team formed in March 2018 and has been developing and leading research interventions, as well as carrying out interviews with Bangladeshi women alumni, while designing bespoke interventions that the School can roll out as part of its Widening Participation and Student Engagement programmes. The group was created by Dr Sadhvi Dar, SBM’s Widening Participation officer; she continues to mentor the group, while the group’s activities, research and planning are supported by Alicia George, SBM’s Alumni Relations and Events Officer.
Dr. Sadhvi Dar, Senior Lecturer in CSR and Business Ethics and Widening Participation Officer, School of Business and Management, QMUL
“I am excited to be part of BreakThrough! and to work alongside the powerful women of colour who make up the project’s core organizing team. I have a long history of decolonizing and anti-racist organizing in the business management field. Since 2005, I have been exploring and leading various strategies that challenge dominant structures mitigating the capacities of people of colour to flourish in academia. Collaborative projects that I am currently involved in include Building the Anti Racist Classroom collective (BARC) and the Decolonizing Alliance. BreakThrough! is unique because it is a collaboration with students and alumni that centres their desires, potential and needs. I am proud to be the group’s mentor.”
Sharmin Akter, SBM Alumni (2017) MSc Accounting & Management
“This is a great initiative which has been taken up by The Bangladeshi women’s careers group after a long time because as Bangladeshi women, we face so many challenges during our degrees and workplace and its great to know that at last it has been recognised by a group of people. I became very keen to become involved in this opportunity because by this research I will be able to meet people from my community and get to know their views, and also as a Bangladeshi alumni I will be able to share the challenges I have faced in my degrees and in the workplace respectively.
After finishing my Masters I have being looking forward to this great opportunity to develop my skills learnt in my degree and put them into practice. When I was doing my Masters my most favourite subject was research module because I love researching. By researching a project, we get to think about so many things deeply and to work towards an understanding. The project also provides an opportunity to meet a variety of people – therefore our professional contacts increase while we remain involved in the project. I have always wanted to do something for Bangladeshi women because I have myself gone through so many challenges. I always believed other Bangladeshi women faced the same problems and BreakThrough! is a great opportunity for me to meet and work with them.”
Nadia Hussain, SBM Alumni (2018) BSc Accounting & Management
“Being a Bangladeshi woman from East London, I understand the challenges women from my background face in the workplace. The truth is Bangladeshi women find it hard to be visible in high, prestigious positions in companies and in graduate roles. There are not enough women from Bangladesh in graduate roles in companies and I have noticed that myself when applying currently to graduate roles in accounting firms.
Henceforth, the existing ‘glass ceiling’ for Bangladeshi women needs acknowledging and breaking, so we can advance in our careers. There is a need for initiatives at university like BreakThrough! to help students identify and overcome the barriers they face; these barriers prevent Bangladeshi women voicing what issues they encounter as well as pursuing their career goals. I personally want to see more Bangladeshi women like myself in prestigious positions and graduate roles in finance, audit and accounting. This project helps me and current students seeking careers in various fields feel they can also ‘break-through’ into their chosen career.”
Nabila Naznin, SBM Alumni (2018) BSc Accounting & Management
“I am a Bangladeshi female and the issues we focus on in this research reflects my personal struggles. Being able to personally resonate with the issues allows me to insert my knowledge of the issues into the research process. I am better able to connect with the participants and gain an insight of what our underlying issues are, because I am like them. Undoubtedly, there are low unemployment rates among Bangladeshi women – both School and national statistics show that we are the least likely to get hired in graduate level work. The barriers we face are far greater than other minority ethnic women. Furthermore, there is a lack of research about Bangladeshi women by Bangladeshi women, hence this opportunity will be insightful and meaningful because our words and wisdom lead the research and project. My role on the organizing team allows me to combine both my personal and organisational interests, while I gain credible skills which I can then carry further in my future career. Overall, it is a great opportunity to be a part of, as it will not only educate me regarding serious underlying issues in and outside our community, but something that will make a positive change for future students who are just like me.”
Sima Akter, SBM Alumni (2018) BSc Accounting & Management
“From doing the QConsult Project it has really helped me understand what it means to be a consultant and all the work that is involved and has provided me with the drive to pursue a career along these lines. Therefore, by taking part in another experience that is similar to this, it will help me build up my experience and provide me with a competitive advantage when applying for a future role within this industry.
Being from Bangladesh myself and also a woman, means that I have many self-fulfilling prophecies that are battling against me. The focus of this project reflects my own personal identity which means that I can personally connect with this project and provide my insights into the recommendations, as well as personally connect with the people I will be interviewing. It is a known fact that the Bangladeshi community, especially the women, have high rates of unemployment and educational disadvantages and I believe this is a fantastic opportunity for me to truly understand the reasons behind this and therefore explore the ways to change this. Bangladesh has come a long way since it’s independence but a lot is yet to be done regarding the transformation of its culture especially regarding the vision of seeing women in paid employment. Therefore, I am very keen to take part in a project which could potentially bring light to the ways in which Bangladeshi woman in particular at SBM can help change and shape their own futures.”
Mariyah Umme Kulsum, SBM Third Year UG Business Management
“There are serious challenges that we face within today’s society, such as the discrimination we experience in education and the workforce. Being a British Bangladeshi woman, I understand there will be challenges that I will face within my degree and future employment. I want to be part of a change that overturns these barriers and contributes towards making a more equal society. BreakThrough! enables me to enhance my knowledge, develop skills (team work, communicational) while being part of a rewarding experience.
The project is beneficial to our community because it develops an understanding about the challenges Bangladeshi women face in the world of work and education. The project is also useful to me as a student because I am conducting research, analysing the interview transcripts, and meeting inspirational Bangladeshi women. My input is driving initiatives that seek to change the School engagement strategy and widening participation activities. I am learning new things and developing my skills all the time. Being part of a Russell Group university, like Queen Mary, should enhance my knowledge about issues that impact me. While I have been accumulating understanding and skills during my degree, this project has shown me how to translate these into practical and applied measures. The University may be committed to maintaining the very best research profile and an outstanding teaching and learning experience for students – but Queen Mary also have a huge social, economic and cultural role to play that impacts people locally, across the UK and potentially around the world.”
ACADEMIC AND ADMIN SUPPORT STAFF
Alicia George, Alumni Relations and Events Officer, School of Business and Management, QMUL
“I have worked in Alumni relations for the past two years and have over six years extensive Events experience within higher education. I have been based at the School of Business and Management since July 2016 and during this time have obtained my Prince 2 Foundation and Practitioner Certificate in Project Management. Prior to Events I worked in Public Relations with some high profile international companies after I graduated from Staffordshire University with a degree in journalism in 2007. I adore reading and literature and have been known to read a book cover to cover in two hours in one sitting. I am an advocate and will offer unwavering support for anything that inspires, represents and portrays persons of colour in mainstream media, press and film in a positive perspective.”
Dr Patrick McGurk, Senior Lecturer and Director of Skills and Employer Engagement, School of Business and Management, QMUL
“I lead on student skills- and career-development and employer engagement for the School of Business and Management. I was previously Head of Human Resources and Organisational Behaviour at the University of Greenwich and have several years of experience of management education for corporate clients across multiple sectors in the UK and Germany. At QMUL, I teach various modules concerned with leadership and management practice at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I have a PhD from the London School of Economics, and hold a Dipl. Betriebswirt, BA Hons, MA and PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education).
I am an appointed member of the Mayor of London’s Skills for Londoners Stakeholder Advisory Group.”
Helen Green, Employer Engagement and Internships Coordinator, School of Business and Management, QMUL
“I organise internships and placements for undergraduate and postgraduate students at SBM. I work in partnership with students and academics to develop meaningful work opportunities for our students and support the need for equality and diversity to be central to our careers and engagement strategy going forward.”