To mark International Women's Day 2021 the UCO is launching
Women@UCO, a women-only group for students and staff to support and empower one another.
We chat to Arabella Gaunt, Senior Practice Educator and
Women@UCO lead about her own career, what it's like to be a woman working within osteopathy, and what the Women's Group hopes to achieve.
Can you tell us a little about your career path to date?
I qualified from the UCO in 2011. I continued studying paediatric osteopathy at the OCC alongside starting out in practice as an Associate Practitioner at a couple of clinics in London including The Colin Dove Practice (Colin is an Ex-Principal of the UCO!) where I still practice today. I also practice just down the road at Kennington Osteopaths & Physiotherapy where I see patients of all ages. Alongside working in Practice, I am a Senior Practice Educator and Lecturer at the UCO.
What, if any, do you think are the challenges for women working in the profession? And what are the benefits?
Historically, due to the difficulty women faced entering the medical profession there has been a fairly equal gender representation within the osteopathic profession. Traditionally, osteopathy has actively recruited women, starting with the work of A.T Still (the founder of osteopathy) who firmly believed that women should be admitted on the same level as men.
Work/life balance can be a real battle for women in general and the flexible working hours practice allows can certainly assist with this. Generally, I have found being a woman in private practice has not been a barrier to building a busy list but sadly there will always be patients who perceive a woman to not be physically strong enough to perform effective treatment on them. There is also a tendency for female osteopaths to be more guarded about being alone in a practice setting, particularly into the evening, which is a concern that my male colleagues rarely need to consider when taking bookings in the popular after work slots. This issue has the potential to limit earnings and reduce female practitioner availability for those in sole practice or working on their own in a larger practice environment.
Women@UCO will aim to create a safe and supportive atmosphere to discuss some of these difficulties and plan a way forward to continue to ensure equal gender representation and professional opportunity within osteopathy.
Tell us a little about another woman who has influenced or inspired you.
All of the women (Fran Wiggins, Nancy Nunn, Andrea Rippe, Sam Fennell, Fiona Hendry & Hilary Abbey to name a few) who have taught me over the years who have inspired me with their knowledge, courage and empathy. They have been so generous by communicating and sharing their strengths in order to create a collective sense of empowerment and by encouraging all around them to have a positive impact through osteopathy.
What would you like
Women@UCO to achieve?
I would like us to collectively address some of the issues that I have raised above and to start to explore ways in which we can encourage, support and empower women to continue to excel in osteopathic practice and as osteopathic educators at the highest level. We should not be afraid to be ambitious and we should strive to create a safe and friendly space to hold discussions about the challenges women can face within osteopathic practice and osteopathic education.
If you are a UCO student or staff member interested in joining the group please contact Arabella for more information.
The UCO is also committed to addressing and calling out inequalities within the UCO itself and the wider profession. To show your support for women's equality on International Women's Day #ChooseToChallenge.