If you’ve never been to a Women Who Get Shit Done (WWGSD) Unconference before, let us tell you, they’re something pretty special.
They’re a place of networking, collaboration and inspiration; the bringing together of women of all ages, stages and backgrounds who have one thing in common – they get shit done. They’re the doers, the leaders, the supporters, the ones finding solutions, and the ones who get involved and make things happen. In short, they’re amazing women!
Each year Flick supports WWGSD by providing a scholarship to one woman to attend the Unconference. Why do we support them? For a number of reasons actually. Not only do the Unconferences recognise the importance of sisterhood and the beauty of positive female support, they also encourage collaboration (how all the best ideas happen!), and tackle gender inequality head on by providing women a place to explore their passions, develop their ideas, and make the world a more amazing place – together!
This year’s scholarship went to Stephanie Kaefer of Christchurch. Steph knows a thing or two about getting shit done – she’s a PhD student in historical and sociolinguistic theory at Otago University (and doing it all extramurally!) and a part-time Academic Mentor at the UC International College. With a passion for equality, our youth and education, we know she’s destined for great things. We caught up with Steph after the Christchurch WWGSD Unconference.
Hey Steph, welcome to the Flick blog! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hey! And thanks. Well, I hope to be a lecturer or a manuscript librarian – I have a heart for young people, education and preserving our written history, but also making it accessible to the wider community.
What (or who) have been the major influences in your life?
I’ve had a few school teachers and lecturers that have really supported me on my journey, even when I didn’t think I had what it takes. And my family and friends, who have always supported my academic dreams. Then there are the people who said I couldn’t do it – they fuelled my passion to push past the boundaries set before me. Growing up in a very low income family has had a huge impact on me too, because I understand what poverty is and how we need to work with our communities to support those families, so that they can support the wellbeing of their own children.
Where do you see yourself in 10 year’s time?
Hmm.. that’s a hard one, but I guess, in ten years’ time I hope to be a lecturer working at a university, contributing to my field, inspiring young people and making an impact in the community. I’d also like to have a family and be more involved in community initiatives, the start-up community, and also environmental groups.
What great things do you want to have achieved? What causes will you be fighting for?
Volunteer work and helping children get a great start in life! I really want to make a mark by being part of initiatives that support children from low decile schools, as well as a network that provides more support for high school-leavers in making decisions about life after school. I want to help young people pursue their passions without getting huge student loans or feeling trapped in a field they’re unhappy in.
If you had the power to change one thing about NZ’s education system, what would it be?
I’d love to challenge the post-graduate elitism in academia. Some students don’t test as well as others, and this is reflected in their grades (and transcripts) but it doesn’t reflect their intelligence – especially when undiagnosed learning disorders impede their paths. There’s also this mentality that if you’re not good enough to win a post-graduate scholarship, you’re not good enough to do post-graduate study. I’ve had to grapple with this myself as a self-funding PhD student.
Tell us about the Unconference. What made you want to attend?
Because I wanted to be a part of something that’s proactive and encouraging, and also designed specifically for women. Many women often feel too shy to speak up, or feel that their opinions aren’t valid at co-ed events like this, so it was great to feel comfortable and to express my opinions in a safe environment.
Was it everything you hoped it would be (we hope so!), and why?
I had no expectations, but it was a very transforming experience and I gained so much from it. I went to a myriad of talks ranging from finances, to health, to poetry and even one about bees and cheese! It helped me discover that I really love spoken-word poetry, that I can have an impact on preserving our environment, and that I have a voice – and people do want to hear what I have to say.
What do you feel was valuable about a group of like-minded WOMEN getting together?
It confirmed a lot of my thinking in many ways, but it also helped me gain more confidence in my self-worth, especially with regard to my studies and my career. There were so many women of different ages, cultures, fields, and life experiences who all contributed so much passion, support, encouragement and advice.
Be inspired, get connected
Here at Flick we believe in looking out for one another and empowering the communities we’re part of. If our people are prospering, we all benefit! Join Flick before 31 July 2017 using the promo code WOMEN and we’ll donate $25 towards the next WWGSD event. We’ll also donate $25 to Shakti New Zealand, a national not-for-profit community organisation committed to supporting and empowering ethnic women, children and families to live a life of dignity, free from fear and violence. Get that shit done and sign up to Flick today!