International Women’s Day: Hospital trust executive on journey from nursing

10:00 08 March 2014

Averil Dongworth

Averil Dongworth


To mark International Women’s Day, we talked to some of the most influential women in Redbridge and asked what challenges they have overcome and what women still have to face.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is observed around the world on March 8 every year with thousands of events to inspire and help women.

Although the celebration started in America during the early 1900s while women campaigned for the right to vote, as well as better working rights, it spread quickly and has become a national holiday in some countries.

In some places, men honour their mothers and loved ones with gifts and women are given the day off work.

In the UK, the focus tends to be celebrating women’s achievements and campaigning for equality.

Equal pay, the “glass ceiling”, domestic violence, sexual health and discrimination are topics for conferences, activities and events.

It is also an opportunity to raise money for charities supporting women’s issues.

Organisers say they want to “make every day International Women’s Day”.

Visit for more information.

Averil Dongworth has been chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust for three years.

She entered NHS management in 1991 having started out as a nurse.

Ms Dongworth thinks some women have been hampered by their desire to have children – but that it is not as much of an issue as it once was.

“Nowadays a lot of my colleagues and peers are female, and former nurses, which is great,” she said.

“But, and I can only speak for the health service, the industry is still male-dominated.

“There should be more attempts to get women into management positions – provided they’re good enough of course.

“Often women who want to have a family are overlooked, and I think more should be done to keep them in touch with the industry so they don’t have to do too much catching up.

“It’s different than when I was younger though. I decided I couldn’t have the career and a family, so I chose the career.

“I’m not sure I’d have to make the same decision now.

“There’s also a confidence issue. Often women won’t go for a promotion because they don’t think they can compete against men, even if they’re good enough.”


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