The Women’s Cafe

womens cafe

“At networking events [White people] talk about their lifestyle and things like that. It’s completely two different worlds… and its just like you know… anyone with a hijab – they wouldn’t be there.”

Alumni interviews, April 2018

We are re-launching The Women’s Cafe at Queen Mary University of London! Come and join BreakThrough! for a chilled out afternoon, talking about things that matter to women of colour and impact our experiences of university life.

Join us every last Monday of the month from 3.30pm-5.30pm, at the St Benet’s Chaplaincy yurt. Free hot drinks and snacks provided.

Speak your mind in a supportive, alcohol-free space where your reflections will become part of how BreakThrough! develop further interventions and recommendations aimed at equalising women of colour’s success and opportunities.

The Women’s Cafe opening hours

Monday 30th September 2019 – Welcome Back! Reconnecting and making new connections with women of colour on campus. This opening session provides a space for us to reflect collectively on what we need from this space. Join us from 3.30-5.30pm!

Monday 28th October 2019 – Building the Anti Racist Classroom: Reflecting on women of colour’s safety and inclusion in universities and beyond We will reflect on the 2-day event, Building the Anti Racist Classroom: Organising for Liberation. As such we will think about QMUL’s definition of safety and ask, are women of colour safe on campus and how does safety during conferences and workshops present women of colour with barriers to inclusion? What does safety mean to women of colour? How do we experience violence in ways that are different compared to white people – how are they different compared to other groups of women of colour? We also reflect on the use of inclusion as a concept that is often cited in policy and practice documents, but seems to change very little in terms of our daily experiences of exclusion at university and work. Join us from 3.30-5.30pm!

Monday 25th November 2019 – Women of Colour in Careers – How do we navigate barriers to gaining professional employment? Women of colour are least likely to find graduate work and when they do, they are often underpaid and battle to get a promotion. We will explore these issues together in today’s session and seek advice and support from those who have entered the workforce and have found specific strategies for surviving often hostile and violent spaces. Join us from 3.30-5.30pm!

Monday 9th December 2019 – What do we need as women of colour, what should we demand from our universityJoin us for a lively mobilisation of our desires, needs and knowledge about surviving white structures of privilege and power! We will use this last session of 2019 to think about what we must do better next year and how we should structure upcoming sessions. This is an opportunity for us to organize around specific statements of our needs, of our truths, of our demands for a radically inclusive university. Join us from 3.30-5.30pm!

Why we need The Women’s Cafe…

During the first phase of our research, we asked Bangladeshi women students and alumni about careers networking events and how they engaged with these get togethers. Overwhelmingly, our findings show that networking events are badly designed, do not include Bangladeshi women and are hostile places for many people of colour. Further, our data suggests that women of colour are repeatedly marginalised and their voices are not taken seriously. The Women’s Cafe is a hybrid format combining research and engagement activities so that BreakThrough! can continue to conduct research while ensuring the most marginalised opinions and experiences are fed back to people making decisions.

We want to transform campus events by creating a relaxed and alcohol-free mobile cafe – that centers QMUL students and alumni who identify as a woman of colour or a Global South woman. We want to establish a community within our university that will enable women of colour to make meaningful connections or enjoy a bit of ‘me-time’ while listening to music, invited speakers and talks from our own students and alumni. We will serve free tea and coffee and a variety of sweet and savoury snacks in a laid back atmosphere.

Please contact us to tell us to tell us what you think of the idea or come and visit us at one of the sessions!

“In-group solidarity works!”

Focus group discussions, SBM, June 2018