To celebrate International Women’s Day we thought it would be great if some of the women on the team reflected on what today means for them…
Today I can’t help but feel:
- to be part of a team that shares the values of #PressforProgress putting capability above gender and race
- that as a small business in digital/technology sector we have over 30% women leading and growing in their profession
- to work with some amazing women in public and private sector service design who are passionate about improving experiences for people
- that I had strong female role models when I was growing up and throughout my (lengthy) career who taught me that anything was possible
- that I can demonstrate to my daughter that she can do anything she wants if she shows commitments and passion
- that I live in a society where the glass ceiling is constantly and confidently being challenged
Is there more to do? Yes, no doubt….. but I don’t think I could say it any better than hearing from some of my fellow Hippos..
For me gender equality is about seeing a persons qualities, talents, personality, ethics and beliefs and either embracing them or at least respecting them regardless of gender.
We all have our rightful place in this world and we all have something worthwhile and valuable to offer, no one should be punished or held back for that be it financially, socially or while at work.
It is time that we recognise the different but valuable contributions both men and women make and reward them equally.
Women Can Do It!
We live in the day and age where women are perfectly capable of taking on the same roles as men, and perform equally as well if not better, and the opportunities are out there….
When I joined University in 1996 I was one of only 4 girls on the Computer Studies course, with over 100 blokes or more. I never felt any unease in the course as all the guys were extremely supportive and 4 girls were a close-nit group.
However, the differences kicked-in when I started working as an IT Professional in 2000, with mainly men orientated teams. This was a slight shock to me and at times I did feel slightly intimidated and found I couldn’t speak up as I was the only girl in the team and always outnumbered.
I also wanted to do a part-time evening course in car mechanics but when I rang up to join I was told ‘that you may feel uncomfortable as its mainly men who attend the class’. I ended up not joining as I felt instead of encouraging me to join perhaps they were hinting not to join. Although in hindsight it perhaps wasn’t the case, they were just being informative not negative.
However, times are changing, and it is so nice to more women working in IT now. For me it is also very inspiring to see women at the top as Directors and Programme Heads – role models! 😊
And finally, at the weekend I was reading the BBC News website and was inspired by an article that a women in Egypt has just become the first female mini-bus driver in the country…she always knew she could do it!
Asking children to describe their Mum for a Mother’s day card, which words did they choose? Kind, pretty, cuddly, lovely. All wonderful things to be. What do they say when we ask them to describe their Dads? Strong, brave, clever, funny. Also great qualities. We have years of entrenched gender stereotypes to quash. Although all those attributes are positive, the ones equated to the men are likely to be seen as more useful in the workplace.
World book day, we asked the children a word to describe why they liked their chosen book character. Again the boys words, amazing, strong, intelligent, then, to my delight, a little girl dressed as Rapunzel chose the word clever, another dressed as Elsa chose powerful, Sophie from The Tiger that came to tea was described as brave.
I’m hopeful that this is the new trend and that by the time these young girls are starting out in their careers it will not be the exception for woman to share equal pay, equal career progression and role distribution, and that the gender pay gap will be a thing of the past. I look forward to a time when these things aren’t celebrated, because they are the norm.
On this day of celebrating women I would like us all to challenge the gender stereotypes in our own minds.
Why is a man in the workplace seen as assertive and confident, whereas a women is considered aggressive or a nag?
Why is it ok for men to call me love or darling because I am a young woman? We don’t refer to young men in the same way.
Why do women occupy more than 50% of the global population but less than 50% of roles of power? Is it because when we have a female Prime Minister we are more interested in her footwear than her policies?
While equal pay and rights is definitely something to strive for, we need to change the bias in our own minds before we can change society as a whole.
It is International Women’s Day in 2018, 100 years since women first got the right to vote. This year feels like a bit of a watershed (at least in the west) with movements like me too and time’s up. However, we still have a way to go and in 2017 the day when women stop earning relative to men because of the gender pay gap was November 10th in the UK. In the US it was April 4th.
I never felt constrained in my choices by my gender and I made my way in a male dominated sector (Information Technology). I feel that I was able to do that because of the confidence instilled in me by my parents. Not everyone has the same opportunities as I had, and I now try to help people of all genders to stand up for themselves and have confidence in their own ability.
One thing that gives me hope is the conversations I have with my 9 year old granddaughter about her future and the fact that, at least for now, she is not constrained in her thinking. I hope that lasts.
My view is that now is the time for us to stop discriminating on the basis of gender, sexuality, disability and anything else that is not relevant. We should be inclusive full stop.
We live in dynamic times.
It will be interesting to see what impact the recent scandals in the movie business, and the way women have been speaking out against their treatment, have on gender equality.
The rise in gender transitions, in both directions, is also shaking up the world. And it’s not just a women’s issue. People now have to view people as people, not as a particular gender.
Having spent most of my career in customer insight and marketing, where there were more women than men, it will be interesting to see what I make of the male/female balance and power dynamics in the tech industry.
However, despite coming from predominantly female industries, it was sad to see a lot of women dropping out, or down, the ladder as their careers progressed and family life kicked in – again, lots of men in senior roles served by female teams.
It’s all a bit of a jumble. Like throwing the jigsaw up in the air and seeing where the pieces land.
In psychological terms or to use a bit of research-speak, we’re definitely in the ‘storming’ stage…. We watch with interest.
I believe that we need to continue to eliminate and reduce the stereotypes we have about different genders by pushing the boundaries into what we feel we can achieve. These stereotypes have been engrained into us but are changing for the better. There is nothing stopping us doing a job that is seen as a “mans job” so if we want to do it, we should. We should all be equally respected regardless of gender and valued for the work we do.
When I was at school I carried on subjects that were heavily female orientated; textiles, health and social care, psychology. This might have been due to personal preferences but I think it’s time to continue to encourage girls that if they want to do subjects like maths, science, that are or were seen as “boy” subjects then there is nothing stopping them. They’re as capable as anyone else to achieve the best in what they’re passionate about.
Now in my current role in a tech environment, I am inspired by ‘Women in tech’ and seeing their achievements. It emphasises that gender shouldn’t hold us back.
This International Women’s day I challenge all women to look at their own attitudes towards their fellow females. Daily, women are being criticised by other women whether it’s for their choice or career, lifestyle or even choice of clothes.
I see friends judged and chided for not going back to work after having a child, for choosing not to ‘slim’ down to reach a size 8, even for choosing not to have children and pursue their career.
The thing is, while we impose these criticisms onto other women, we are also imposing them on ourselves and allowing society to believe that this is ok.
International Women’s day, to me, is about ALL women being able to do and be whatever and whoever they want without judgement or gender imposed barriers. Achievements are being made by women from all walks of life every day, whether they are big, small, personal or shared we should focus our efforts on celebrating these women not berating them.
Let’s stop the criticism and start helping, encouraging and empowering – lead the gender inequality battle by example. After all, change starts with YOU!