Wonderful Women Interview #13 – Suzanne Doyle

Bristol Women’s Voice Wonderful Women Award’s were presented as part of our International Women’s Day celebrations on the 3rd of March. We celebrated over 50 women from across Bristol  who had been nominated for their contribution to their communities, each week you can find out more about one of these Wonderful Women.

Suzanne Doyle

Suzanne Doyle received a Wonderful Women Award for her commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity in her role as Executive Manager at Bristol Students’ Union, as the co-chair of the university’s staff LGBT+ network and through Indigo; the monthly LBT+ women networking night she co-runs with Anna Rutherford. Suzanne has worked to increase awareness, visibility and make a difference to LGBT+ staff at the University, changing policy to make working at the university more inclusive.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

 I would say, try and take as many opportunities as you can because you never know who you might meet, or where things might go. The more you say yes to things, the more opportunities open up to you.

I think when you are younger you try to fit in, but I would say don’t try to fit in and don’t bow down to peer pressure. Everybody is unique and I think it is really important to find out as much as you can at a young age who you are, because if you find that out, the rest of your life can be what you want it to be. If something doesn’t feel right – don’t do it and if you feel that something is right – do it, but don’t just go along with others to fit in. I think people can be too obsessed with being popular and with being liked and not necessarily standing up for who they are and what they believe in. However, it’s also hard to find out who you really are when you are young. Now I am older I think I probably know who I am and what I want in life. 

We are all going to have bad things happen to us in life, so it’s about trying to be resilient, trying to really work out who you are and what you want and trying to be happy – because we only have one stab at this life. There is so much we can do to build our own happiness – including communicating with people, and engaging and helping others. I think I did do that a lot when I was younger but I was a bit too concerned with how people viewed me – I wanted to be liked and of course I still do, but now I realise it is not the most important thing.

I would say try and get out of your bubble, spend time with other people and find out what they are going through. It is really important for me to try and make a difference in any way I can. At the end of the day, the more you give and help people, the better the world we life in and there is a real feel good factor for yourself.

Which women have inspired you?

Michele Obama, I think she is a powerful and strong woman who knows who she is. Some women political leaders feel don’t they are being authentic to who they really are, but her approach just goes to show that there isn’t one model for how you have to be as a leader. I love that she radiates warmth but also has a strong, powerful message and people listen to her.

My mum, she had a tough upbringing but bought up four children. Everyday she goes out and helps others. I love that about her, and it has always inspired me and made me want to go out there and do things for other people.

What do you want to see change for women in Bristol?

I think I would like to see more women feeling confident, particularly in the workplace. So many women I meet seem to lack self-esteem, they think they wouldn’t get that job but I say – go for it, because you never know. Really try and think about all those great things you are doing. We all have so many transferable skills. If you are a mother and you go back to work after having time off, there are so many things that you do as a mother which you can use in the workplace yet people often think that because they have had time off, they cannot continue at the level they are working at, when actually you can still be a mum and be at the top.

Often men feel more confident to apply to job applications, whilst women often feel they are not good enough when actually they have so many strengths. I would like to see more women in Bristol at the top. More women chief executives, more women trustees, more women feeling confident and feeling they can be who they want to be and sit at that table and make a difference.

Is there anything that you have read, seen or listened to recently which has inspired you? 

Sam Budd; who I have worked with for six years continues to inspire me everyday. Recently, she did a seminar in the university as part of HerStories. It was a very moving inspirational talk about her life. It was so honest and it was really nice to hear that honesty, as often people are too scared to be vulnerable and open themselves up. I like women that can do that because we all have vulnerabilities.

Too often people hide that part of themselves because they see it as a failure. If you have had struggles in life, the more you can get that across to people, the more people realise you can still be successful despite those struggles. You don’t have to have had a perfect upbringing or perfect amount of money to get where you want to be.

 What hopes do you have for your local community?

When I think of my community I think about the LGBT+ community. I want to make sure that people are, and feel they can be, open and honest. The more that we can go out there and be visible, the more that things will change as people realise there are people in their life who are LGBT+. As a lesbian, I want gay women in particular to be themselves, to say who they are, to be proud of who they are and not try to hide it. The LGBT+ community can be hidden in the workplace and I think it is important to make people aware of the diversity that is there so we can use it and listen to people’s opinions.

I want Bristol to be the most inclusive place it can be. Inclusivity is something we are good at, but I just want to make sure that everyone can be visible. Knowing that you can be who you are and feeling proud of who you are is so important.

Suzanne stands in front of a white background smiling

Bristol Women’s Voice are marking 100 years since the first women in the UK were given the vote with ‘Deeds not Words’ a year-long programme of events across the city. Find out about Deeds not Words events in Bristol here

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