To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022 we share insights into the career highlights and challenges our women at Policy in Practice have experienced to date.

In this blog post, we speak to

  • Verity Ambler, Policy and Communications Executive
  • Genevieve Hampson, Benefit and Budgeting Calculator Product Manager
  • Janet Harkin, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Tylor-Maria Johnson, Policy and Data Analyst

We learn about their career highlights to date, challenges they have faced, and where they see themselves in the future.

International women's day

Careers to date

I always had an interest in policy and research. When I was younger, I was fascinated by policymakers, and how they might use their voice and ideas to make a positive impact on their communities.

So once I got to university, I was adamant about conducting my own research that examined the relationship between ideas, policies, and people.

I concentrated in Sociology, with a minor in African American studies. Highlights of my studies included courses on race and US public policy, urban development and US policy, and political statistics. After finishing this degree, I still felt as if there was so much to learn about government systems internationally, so I applied for and began a degree in social policy in Oxford. Here, is where my interest in welfare policies and research grew. Learning about the varieties of social security systems in OECD countries really solidified my desire to start a career that uses research to make a meaningful impact on policy systems.

Tylor-Maria Johnson, Policy and Data Analyst

I studied Economics at university and always enjoyed development and labour economics papers so I wanted to seek more impact with my work.

I started out in strategy consulting, which was a great learning experience. I left to do a social entrepreneurship course and after working at a homeless shelter and local council I was looking into the potential for data to help vulnerable customers. I met Deven Ghelani, the CEO of Policy in Practice, at a networking event, and found that he shared a similar vision. From there, I joined Policy in Practice.

Genevieve Hampson, Benefit and Budgeting Calculator Product Manager

After completing my undergraduate degree at Bristol University, I started off working for large advertising agencies. Whilst the work was good fun and I found it creative, I always wanted to do something more purposeful with my career.

I took a year out to complete a Masters degree at SOAS University in Middle East Politics and then joined Policy in Practice shortly after that. I was particularly interested in making a difference to low-income households, and as the pandemic has just started there seemed to be no better time to get involved with Policy in Practice.

Verity Ambler, Policy and Communications Executive

Biggest achievements

One of the biggest achievements at Policy in Practice has been the listing of our free benefits calculator on GOV.UK. It took a lot of work to get approval for the calculator which made it even more rewarding when it came through.

We were thrilled because it meant that we were able to help more people understand what benefits and support they could get to increase their income. Now around 10,000 people use the calculator each day.

Janet Harkin, Chief Marketing Officer

I am most proud of my MPhil thesis that examines the uneven take up of cash assistance benefits across racial groups in the 51 different welfare programs in the United States. It was an adventurous mixed method project that created its own take-up index to quantify how unevenly benefits are take-up amongst seven racial groups.

Then I used a data analysis method called fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis to understand how take-up related to a variety of policy and administrative conditions within a given welfare state. It’s a beast of a method, think Boolean algebra, set theory, qualitative coding, and descriptive statistics combined into one wild method, so I won’t go into depth on it. But I am quite proud of myself for completing this work and hope to use some of the insights, and skills I developed from it in my current role at Policy in Practice.

Tylor-Maria Johnson, Policy and Data Analyst

I’m quite new so it’s difficult to point to anything specific but I’ve been looking at ways we can expand and help people earlier. From this I have written a new version of the water tariffs calculator and am incorporating user feedback into development of new features.

It feels like we’ve also successfully developed new ways of working and clarity of team roles since I’ve joined which has been very positive.

Genevieve Hampson, Benefit and Budgeting Calculator Product Manager

We all have big ambitions

I’m excited to be learning every day from the women around me, both colleagues at Policy in Practice and in my wider social network. The future for me is all about growth.

As a marketer, the world is constantly evolving and there are always new ways to reach out and improve your message so you’re heard. At Policy in Practice we have big ambitions to help more people by giving them the tools and information they need to build their financial strength. That’s what it’s all about.

Janet Harkin, Chief Marketing Officer

I’d like to make some processes easier so that we can continue meet more client needs without burden on the team. This will hopefully free up time so we can focus on improvements, new projects and thought leadership.

I’d also like to grow our reputation and use in new sectors, particularly the debt and utilities sector where we can do a lot to help.

Genevieve Hampson, Benefit and Budgeting Calculator Product Manager

We want to break the bias this International Women’s Day

Taking a break from paid work to have children is one of the structural ways that women can lose out to men when it comes to pay, and this has happened to me.

On the flip side, I’ve been very fortunate to have strong female role models and mentors throughout my career, starting with my first boss at Royal Mail, so I’ve been able to see what’s possible.

Janet Harkin, Chief Marketing Officer

Personally, I have found that my voice is not taken as seriously as others when I contribute my opinion or thoughts on a matter. Often I am not the loudest, nor most British sounding voice in a room, so it may be easy to write off my comments for someone else’s.

But it does not have to be this way. Though challenging, we all might benefit from being active listeners whenever anyone speaks. Often those from diverse backgrounds have fresh perspectives to offer.

Tylor-Maria Johnson, Policy and Data Analyst

I studied under some excellent female professors at university and have had excellent female mentorship at Policy in Practice. I think having an even balance of female and male senior managers at PiP has set the company up for success in terms of mitigating gender bias as we have representation right through to the most senior level of the company.

Verity Ambler, Policy and Communications Executive

Women and the benefits system

For last year’s International Women’s Day we looked at how the benefit system supports women. This year, we know that there is still a huge issue around benefit take-up. Recent government figures show that over £10 billion of benefits is unclaimed each year, nearly half of which is unclaimed housing benefits worth up to £4.2 billion. This means that over one million families are missing out on an average of £3,000 per year. The lack of benefit take-up across households has added to the adverse impact austerity measures have had on women.

We built our award-winning Benefit and Budgeting Calculator to help everyone understand what financial support is available from the welfare system and elsewhere. Our stats show that 57% of those who use the calculator are women, compared to 43% of men.

To understand how the benefit system can help you use our simple, independent benefits calculator to find out what benefits you could get, how to claim and how your benefits will be affected if you start work. Visit www.betteroffcalculator.co.uk.

Join us

We are always on the lookout for strong female talent to join our team, and we are currently recruiting. Check out our current open roles here.

Watch our video interview produced last year for International Women’s Day here

#BreakTheBias #IWD2022

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TitleDateStart TimeDurationRegister
How to identify and support Just About Managing households using data The government has said it wants to make life easier for the 'squeezed middle' or people who are just about managing. These are the families who are not rich and they are also not those on the lowest incomes. Despite most being in work, they are struggling to meet their cost of living and it is no wonder.

The cost of living hit a 30-year high in February with inflation running at 6.2% and outpacing wage growth. Electricity bills were up nearly 20% in the year to January 2022, and gas bills by 28%, with further rises expected. Private rental prices across the UK went up by 2% in the year to January, the highest rate for five years; in the East Midlands that figure was 3.6%.

We know that one in five UK adults (10.3 million people) have less than £100 in savings, one in ten have no savings at all and more than a quarter have less than £500. Many are one broken appliance away from slipping into debt.

Local authorities want to help families who are struggling now to avoid a crisis down the line yet they have little or no visibility over people who are not already claiming benefits. Now though, analysis of other datasets can be used to get a clearer picture of families who are just about managing.

Join this webinar to learn:

- Who is just about managing now but at risk in the future due to the rising cost of living
- Which datasets can be used to identify families in danger of debt
- How local authorities can target support to avert crisis
29/6/202210:30 BST1.3 hours
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