Ellie Rushforth – Having the confidence to speak up and be heard

About about me and my career…

My name is Eleanor and I am a final year student at The University of Edinburgh, studying a joint degree in Sociology and Politics. During the past few months, I founded SE7EN Magazine, which is a new student-run women’s publication, created to represent women across the University of Edinburgh and beyond. Over 60% of the student population of Edinburgh University identify as women, and there seemed to lack a dedicated magazine to represent this population. While there are a plethora of incredible feminist driven societies, blogs and organisations at Edinburgh, I wanted to create a platform which would represent these communities and their ideas, as well as creating a space for them to come together and highlight their work. Se7en was created in order to bridge this gap and create something new and empowering. We have been assisted by an amazing team of editors, as well as countless contributors from different parts of the University, to create a vibrant debut issue that can be accessed through our website: www.se7enedinburgh.org

‘I have taken a lot of varied Women’s and Gender Studies course’

There is no typical day for me in my career at the moment. As a university student I am currently juggling classes, society commitments, writing my dissertation and running the magazine, so there is always something to keep me busy! 

The reason I chose this career is because I have been interested in feminism and women’s rights for a long time, and have taken a lot of varied Women’s and Gender Studies courses during my time at University. While this has allowed me to explore my interest in this area academically, I was really keen to create an accessible platform to promote women’s voices in a creative and engaging way. 

The challenges we faced were that SE7EN was created and developed during lockdown, which meant that we had to adapt to new ways of working online as well as learning how to build an effective team and social media following whilst limited by COVID restrictions. One of the key challenges to this has been finding ways to engage effectively with people online, and create a presence for the magazine. 

We also started the magazine with no funding, meaning that we had to find ways of creating content and making the magazine for free. This has been a really interesting challenge, and has definitely allowed us to be very creative, creating the first issue of SE7EN as a digital magazine. In the future, we are hoping to be able to secure enough funding to publish a physical copy of the magazine. Since starting the magazine, I applied for funding from the Student Council, which has allowed us to create our own website, which was a really exciting milestone!

‘I hoped to create something that would make an impact’

It is important that I feel passionately about Se7en as I wanted it to be an inclusive and representative space, so that everyone can find something to engage with, highlighting diversity and inclusion as one of our main aims. The magazine focuses on presenting a wide array of viewpoints and stories, presented in various mediums. Our first issue features a diverse range of work created by and for women, including articles, interviews, poems, photography and illustration. Each page features a new voice, all coming together to share stories and present unique perspectives. This combination of voices is extremely exciting, and something we hope to continue as Se7en continues to develop and grow. 

I hoped to create something that would make an impact, and create a legacy for women at the University. It is really important to be able to share the messages and values that SE7EN promotes with a wider community, which is something myself and my team are passionate about and driven by. Creating this magazine has also allowed me to demonstrate my own capabilities in leadership and communication, which has been a great opportunity for my own development as a leader. 

I think that the biggest lesson I have learned during this process is the importance of the team and the people around you. I’m extremely lucky to have an incredibly supportive network of friends and family, who have all been encouraging from the very beginning. We put together the first issue with an amazing group of only 5 people, who have been invaluable in the effort they have put in, and the ideas they have brought to the project. I’m really excited to have recently expanded our team, and look forward to working on the magazine more with a new group of people who will be able to bring new perspectives and ideas to develop the magazine further.

One of the influential women I really look up to is Michelle Obama. In her book, she said that: “Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim”. Instead, she sees becoming as “forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” I think this is a great way of looking at life, as continuously evolving towards a better version of yourself. 

My mum has always been very passionate about feminism, and has instilled these values into me from a very young age. She has always encouraged me to pursue my ambitions, and has been a huge supporter of the magazine from its inception. As a woman in a very male dominated industry, she is definitely one of the key reasons why I am interested in women’s rights, and a great role model.

‘Have the confidence to speak up. Let your voice be heard’

The top 3 tips I would give a young female starting their career is to get involved in a variety of things and pursue your interests. I have been involved in a number of different societies and organisations during my time at university, and each has taught me different skills and allowed me to explore different areas of interest, from charitable fundraising and sponsorship, to inclusive sex education for schools. 

Have the confidence to speak up. Let your voice be heard, and express your ideas and opinions. 

Put yourself forward for things. I travelled to the USA for my year abroad last year, and while initially I was not sure whether this was something I was even going to apply for, it turned out to be one of the best experiences I have ever had! Sometimes you will achieve things you didn’t think you would. 

The best bit of advice I have ever been given is that I try to view every situation as an opportunity to keep learning and keep growing. Even if something negative or unexpected happens, try to view this as a learning experience. 

I am extremely motivated by pursuing equality and promoting voices. The key aims of SE7EN include diversity, representation and inclusion, and these are all factors that have motivated not only the creation of the magazine, but also my personal values.  I am also motivated to push myself and improve my confidence in myself.  

One of the most valuable things for me would definitely be finding someone to give you advice, either someone within your family, your work or school/university. Having someone to talk to about ideas and act as a mentor has been very helpful to me. Establishing connections and networking can also be very useful. 

‘I am extremely motivated by pursuing equality’

The advice I would give to my 16-year-old self is to encourage myself to take the opportunities that come along and be brave! Believe in yourself, you are much more capable than you believe. 

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