#firstwomen2018

First Woman

Interview with Air Vice-Marshall Elaine West CBE

October 13, 2017

RAF officer Air Vice-Marshall Elaine West CBE is the First Woman in history to become a military two-star officer. She joined the RAF at 17 years old and now holds rank equivalent to an Army Major General or a Navy Rear Admiral. She is adamant that the only people to be surprised at her promotion were the public – and that for the MOD it was ‘business as usual!’ She shares with us what keeps a woman holding the highest rank in the modern day RAF sane day to day. Honesty is the best way to read more

Interview with Michelle McDowell

September 14, 2017

 ‘Engineering offers all the opportunities anyone could possibly want – to women as well as men,’ explains Michelle McDowell MBE, the first woman to be made president of ACE (The Association for Consultancy and Engineering). In its 100+ year history, no female has chaired this organisation which is the business voice for engineering companies responsible for  delivering, and maintaining economic and social infrastructure UK-wide. As well as being instrumental in the construction and read more

Interview with Elspeth Beard

August 21, 2017

At the age of twenty-three, Elspeth Beard became the first woman to motorcycle around the world. 35,000 miles with just a tent, some tools, her savings and a ton of determination, she reveals what she learnt about herself on the road. You don’t need to be motivated by a grand agenda ‘I’d been biking for years. I’d just been dumped and I’d got a third in my architecture degree. All I knew is that I had to get away!  Six months later I was in Australia and thought, ‘I may as well read more

Interview with Flight Lieutenant Leanne Martin

April 20, 2017

Leanne Martin is the RAF’s First Woman to become Improvised Explosive Device Disposal qualified. Physically and mentally demanding, Leanne’s expertise lies in dealing with potentially explosive devices within the context of international terrorist organizations and criminal gangs. So, what is it that keeps her connected to normality during her extraordinary day job? Stay grounded What’s the strangest thing I’ve ever thought before walking towards a potentially hazardous item? ‘What read more

Interview with Chris Duffin

February 22, 2017

Chris Duffin was the First Woman Governor Grade at HMP Strangeways, the notorious, category-B male prison.  She talks to First Women about what she learnt on the job from prisoners, peers and the public reaction to her posting. ‘When I started at Strangeways, my Mentor was the wonderful Peter Pope. I was very lucky as he was one of the most rebellious governors I have ever met. He always said, ‘its easier to obtain forgiveness than permission’ whenever I got anxious about procedure. read more

Interview with Deta Hedman

January 21, 2017

Currently ranked World Number 2 by the World Darts Federation and the First Woman to beat a male player in a major televised darts tournament, Deta Hedman AKA ‘The Dark Destroyer’ explains how to stay cool when a male competitor ‘fist pumps in your face’ and tensions run high on the mixed competition oche… ‘Try not to approach your passion in terms of winning or losing’ I think about a darts match simply as an enjoyable experience, not as something I have to win or that I might read more

Interview with Bishop Libby Lane

December 14, 2016

On the 26th January, 2015, Elizabeth Jane Holden became the first woman Bishop of the Church of England. Her consecration came more than 20 years after women were permitted to become priests. The Archbishop of Canterbury heralded the moment as ‘a completely new phase of our existence,’ but many opposed the appointment. First Women spoke to Bishop Libby about her experience of heralding such an important shift in what has always been a traditionally male-dominated institution. ‘Change read more

Interview with Pauline Clare

November 13, 2016

Across Britain, the number of female police officers is on the rise, but women still only constitute about 30% of the UK police force. Pauline Clare, Britain’s first female Chief Constable shares the life lessons she has learned on her journey to one of the most important jobs in the country. Rather than, ‘I failed’, think, ‘for what good reason didn’t that happen?’ When I didn’t get through the election process to access the higher ranks, it would have been easy to tell myself read more

Interview with Alison de Burgh

October 14, 2016

The First Woman to become a stage and screen fight director, Alison de Burgh is no stranger to bows, knives and swords. She shares with First Women her journey to her first which, it seems, was no less of a battle… I think men guard the status quo through fear When I told a colleague that I wanted to be a fight director, they said: ‘they’ll never let you.’  And yes, they were pretty mean to me. Men had allowed testosterone to drive their work in the role. I think they were afraid that read more

Interview with Lara Prior-Palmer

August 26, 2016

Lara was the first woman to win the Mongol Derby – and doesn’t seem phased by much at all. Using ‘fear as the inspiration to seek out truth’ her adventurous life-view led Lara to compete in and win one of the toughest horse races in the world when she was just 19. ‘The Mongol Derby is the longest, toughest horserace and I was convinced I wouldn’t finish’ ‘You ride twenty-five ponies over 1000km. Most competitors take a year to prepare – I stumbled in 6 weeks before, read more