Gender equality at work – an interview with Sophie White for our ‘Inspiring women in business’ interviews

Sophie White

We’ve been celebrating International Women’s Day 2020 all week with our ‘inspiring women in business’ series. Today we’re looking at gender equality at work and we’re joined by The Student Room’s Partnerships Manager, Sophie White:

Hi Sophie, what’s your role at The Student Room?


As the Partnerships Manager, I oversee all of the content partnerships we create at The Student Room.

This involves working with our Community, Editorial, Design and Marketing teams to deliver useful and inspiring content that supports students.

Our partners benefit from this because we position them as helpful experts, so it develops trust and reciprocity with an audience they want to influence.


We’re here to explore gender equality at work. Based on your experiences, what would you like to see happen for women in business?


Well some things are definitely improving already. There’s a lot of awareness around the gender pay gap and the importance of having more women in senior leadership positions; however, big issues such as the opportunity gap are still prevalent.

Studies have shown that men are much more likely to have a senior mentor than women (largely because leadership teams are predominantly male).

Naturally, senior mentors are more likely to promote their mentees into the higher-earning roles than the mentees’ female counterparts. Again this results in less career progression opportunities for women.

Also, I think there is still a lot of gender-bias running under the surface which hasn’t changed.

It’s smaller things that persist because they are harder to challenge. For instance, in most meetings, I notice that the person taking the notes and actions is a woman.

It seems harmless, but it’s also an example of how we haven’t moved away from the cultural idea that it’s a woman’s job to be the organiser or ‘caretaker’.

When the burden is on you to take the notes it reduces your ability to contribute your ideas and make a meaningful contribution to the discussion.  This, in turn, can have a negative effect on your progression and development. 

It’s likely this stereotype has been passed down from when women entered the workforce in secretarial roles.

Something as simple as rotating the notetaker would empower everyone in the room equally. I’d love to see more men taking on this responsibility.


How have you challenged prejudice and helped to broaden perceptions? 


By talking about these issues openly.

As a society we all have biases and it’s important to question ourselves and each other and the systems we’re in. That’s the only way we are going to ensure we promote gender equality at work.

Human beings aren’t always going to be perfect, but we won’t change unless we talk to and learn from each other.

It’s also really important to be aware and open about your own privileges.

As a white, able-bodied, heterosexual woman I know that I’ve benefited in our society so much more than lots of other women who are systemically marginalised in so many ways.


Is it important to you that you empower other women in your organisation?

I think the best way I’ve empowered others has been by asking for their help and making sure there is a space for their opinions and ideas.

I’m involved in lots of projects, so I collaborate all the time with an array of smart and inspiring women. I feel very lucky to learn from them.

Recently I’ve been working on creating new processes and documentation and it’s been amazing to step back and think about the best way we can do things. 

In all cases, the most effective approaches are always the most inclusive. I want to enable everyone to contribute.


Are there any women in your organisation that particularly inspire you Sophie?


There are just so many at The Student Room. One of the most inspiring women I work with is Dee Wild (I mean, her name alone is pretty great).

Dee has taught me so much in the time we’ve worked together.

She’s given me actionable advice to help me in my role, she’s been a powerful driving force in all of our collaborative projects, and she supports so many other people in the business too.

What I love about Dee is that she raises other people up with her.

Thank you for sharing Sophie.


Are these stories resonating with you? The Student Room stands for people – regardless of gender, race or background. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to shine and maximise their potential. See you soon for the final blogs in this series.

Katie Hale


Interview by:

Katie Hale
B2B Marketing Executive
The Student Room