Dame Sharon White, who chairs of the John Lewis Partnership, will share her personal journey as a female leader for the latest public lecture in a University of Leeds series celebrating strong women.

Dame Sharon will reflect on her background and varied career through the lens of female equality for the 2023 Alice Bacon Lecture on 2 November.

“I am so pleased to be joining the Alice Bacon lecture series this year. It is a great opportunity to share experiences and maybe some lessons along the way - all with the aim of helping women to not feel they have to take a backseat,” she said.

Her talk will encompass thoughts about her upbringing as a daughter to parents of the Windrush generation as well as her education and the three distinct phases of her career - from the Civil Service and the communications regulator Ofcom to the John Lewis Partnership.

Sharon will also share her views on how to work towards greater gender equality in the workplace and society - by having a different conversation that brings everyone along in step, including men.

The annual Alice Bacon Lecture celebrates the achievements of pioneering women and is hosted by the University’s Centre for Democratic Politics. The lecture series is named after the Leeds Labour MP who led a crusade to improve the education of working-class girls and boys.

The inaugural lecture was given in 2018 by Harriet Harman – the House of Commons’ longest continuously serving female MP – followed in 2019 by Baroness Hale of Richmond, who was the first female President of the Supreme Court and the country’s most senior judge until her retirement from the role in December that year.

Alice Bacon was elected to represent Leeds North East in 1945 and served her city constituents continuously until her retirement a quarter of a century later, when she took up a seat in the House of Lords as a Baroness.

Leeds did not return another woman to the Commons until the election in 2010 of Rachel Reeves, Member of Parliament for Leeds West and now Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Ms Reeves partnered with the University’s School of Politics and International Studies to establish the lectures in the name of her trailblazing forebear, with the aim of celebrating the achievements of successful women, locally and nationally.

She said: "I'm delighted that Dame Sharon White agreed to be this year’s speaker for the Alice Bacon Lecture, where we celebrate the life of Leeds’ first female MP.

"Sharon's emphasis on the importance of social mobility mirrors the driving force behind Alice Bacon, who was determined to improve the lives of working-class children through education.

"I'm looking forward to hearing more about Sharon's inspirational personal and professional journey."

Dr Richard Hayton, Co-Director of the Centre for Democratic Politics added: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be able to welcome Dame Sharon White to the University of Leeds.

“Her distinguished and varied career means that she is ideally placed to speak on the topic of women and leadership and reflect on the battle for gender equality. The lecture will be a fantastic opportunity for our students to hear first-hand from a such a high-profile and successful figure.”

The lecture will take place at 18:30 – 19:30 in the Great Hall at the University of Leeds on Thursday November 2023. Doors will open at 18:00. After the lecture there will be a drinks reception. This is a public event and is free to attend, but you will need a ticket for admission.

Please register herefor a ticket.