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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Chief Encounters: Patrycja Kupiec on swapping academia for purpose

This feature is about 6 years old

YWCA Scotland director Patrycja Kupiec believes she has her dream job but that doesn't mean she'll stick with it for life

What makes a good day at work?

Being with my team either in Edinburgh or in Glasgow and learning from them. Drinking lots of coffee, sharing ideas, and thinking about creative ways to empower young women. Every day at YWCA Scotland is a good day.

Why do you work for YWCA?

I started volunteering with YWCA Scotland as 30 under 30 editor in 2017, and I was given the most amazing opportunity to meet and interview 30 inspiring girls and young women. I was also inspired by all the women that work for the organisation – we're a small team of 6, and the impact we achieve with limited resources is amazing.

What makes you blue with rage?

For me, the rights of women across the world not being respected and being further limited angers me immensely.

What impresses you most about young Scottish women?

The young women that I work with impress me by being defiant, ambitious, and willing to challenge the structures that oppress them, all the while recognising and celebrating their vulnerabilities.

What was the last thing you did that scared you?

The last time I felt really nervous in my role was presenting about our work at the UK Mission in New York as part of the United Nations Commission on Status of Women. For a migrant woman from a working class background, and for someone who didn't speak a word of English 15 years ago, the opportunity was mind blowing, but also terrifying.

What’s your favourite book?

I am a massive bookworm! I think I would have to go with To Kill a Mockingbird as I have reread it so many times.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for young women today?

I think for young women today just being heard and respected, and not just treated as the voice of the future, but also the voice of right now is a huge challenge.

Is Facebook your friend or your enemy?

I use Facebook to communicate with friends all over the world and with my family. I don't feel like I have a really strong view on Facebook in particular.

Would your 16-year-old self be impressed with where you are now?

I would like to think that I would be, I always wanted to travel the world and have the freedom to do something that I really love and that's exactly what I'm doing now.

What’s your perfect weekend?

Weekends are important for me to charge my batteries and have some downtime with my family and friends. I love sleeping in, cuddles with my dog Lulu, leisurely breakfast with my husband, reading a book in bed, not having plans, just doing whatever feels right and relaxing.

It’s 100 years since women got the vote, what’s the best thing that has happened in that time?

I don't think I can pinpoint one thing that’s most important – every legislation challenging status quo, every woman in a position of power, every male ally that recognises and challenges these imbalanced power structures, every woman who was or is a pioneer in her area brings us closer to gender equality.

Is the third sector a calling or an accident?

A bit of both. My background is in archaeology and I have a PhD in Viking archaeology and archaeological science. I have always thought that I was going to become an academic and I really enjoyed teaching and doing research, but at the same time I felt that I wanted to have a bit more of an impact on the wider society.

Is this a rung on the ladder to success or your final destination?

It is my dream job, and I am hoping to strengthen our position and make us more sustainable and then give another young woman a chance to make her own mark. So not my final destination, but somewhere that I would like to stay for next couple of years for sure.

What’s YWCA’s gender pay gap?

We don't have a gender pay gap. The organisation is run by six self-identifying women.

Which Brian Cox?

As an absolute STEM geek I have to say the physicist.

Patrycja Kupiec is director of YWCA Scotland