International Women’s Day at the UCO

We’re proud to be supporting International Women’s Day this Friday 8 March at the UCO, and we encourage you to join in too.

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women's Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first​ ​IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Prior to this the​ Socialist Party of America, United Kingdom's Suffragists and Suffragettes, and further groups campaigned for women's equality. Make IWD your day – everyday.

The women of UCO

We are proud that many women at the UCO hold roles in so many different areas including research, education, and leadership. A number of our former students have gone on to achieve significant positions and contributed to the osteopathic and wider healthcare community over the years. The very first graduate of the British School of Osteopathy (as the UCO was known until 2017) was a woman called Elsie Wynter Wareing, qualifying in 1924. We are also proud that at the UCO Clinic we are able to offer antenatal and postnatal care for pregnant women, at our specialist expectant mothers clinic.

Below is just a small selection of the many influential women at the UCO who continue to inspire colleagues, students and the wider community.

  • Fiona Hendry is Head of Knowledge and Course Leader for the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic and Clinical Education. Watch a video of Fiona talking about her osteopathic career.
  • Francesca Wiggins is Head of Clinical Practice at the UCO, as well as Academic Council Representative for the Board. 
  • Hilary Abbey is Head of Research and Clinic Tutor at the UCO, as well as Project Leader of OsteoMAP – the Osteopathy, Mindfulness and Acceptance-based Programme for patients with persistent musculoskeletal pain. She also continues to manage this specialist community clinic service. 
  • HRH The Princess Royal became the UCO’s Patron in 1984 and is currently our Chancellor. She opened both UCO buildings in Borough High Street and Southwark Bridge Road, and continues to attend every graduation ceremony to this day.
  • Joanna Smith is Finance Director at the UCO and member of the Vice-Chancellors group.
  • Shireen Ismail is Course Leader for the Postgraduate Certificate in the Integrated Care of Older Adults. Read an interview with her about osteopathy and older adult care.
  • Yinka Fabusuyi and Kerri Holden are both Clinic Tutors at the UCO. Listen to their stories in the videos below:


Gender equality in osteopathy

Many female osteopaths continue to push the osteopathic profession toward gender equality. Today almost 51% of osteopaths in the UK are women – according to the General Osteopathic Council Register 2019.

Promoting gender equality, diversity, equal opportunity and inclusion is embraced in the UCO’s core underpinning values and is integrated into activities undertaken at our institution.

Approximately 56% of the student body and 48% of employees at the UCO are women. Both the Vice-Chancellors group as well as the Board have an equal balance of genders.

Closing the gender pay gap

The UCO outperforms sector average on gender pay gap. Although we are not legally required to publish gender pay gap data due to our size, we are committed to equal pay and see this information as a key performance indicator for gender equality in the workplace.

According to an internal review in 2017, the gender pay gap between male and female staff at the UCO was at approximately 6% which is considerably lower than the university sector average of almost 16%  as reported by the Times Higher Education, with 30 institutions reporting a gap in excess of 20%.

Sharon Potter, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) at the UCO, said:

“I love working at the UCO - having been here for 23 years, I have worked across all levels of the UCO to now being a senior manager. UCO has always been an inclusive environment to work, promoting on merit regardless of gender, ethnicity or background. I am proud to work at an institution that has so many amazing women working and studying here, and I wish them all a very Happy International Women’s Day!”

Find out more about International Women’s Day at, and join the conversation using hashtags #BalanceforBetter and #IWD2019.

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