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International Women's Day 2023

International Women’s Day 2023

International Women's Day is a global holiday celebrated annually on March 8 as a focal point in the women's rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, we spoke to women across different sectors of the business. In this interview, we speak to Alexandra Cadman, one of our Wellbeing Personal Trainer’s at Plymouth Fitness and Wellbeing Gym, Rebecca Isherwood, an Enterprise Architect and Danielle Raath, Staff Nurse Outpatients, about the importance of International Women’s Day and it’s personal meanings, too.

Which woman/women have inspired you and why?

Alexandra: “In addition to my strong female clients and peers, Dina Asher-Smith and Leah Williamson have inspired me for not only being incredibly dedicated athletes, but for breaking societal taboos by discussing the effects of the menstrual cycle and conditions like endometriosis on their sporting performance. Also, Laura Bates for her advocacy and poignant research into equality between genders; “it is not man vs woman, but people vs prejudice”.”

Rebecca: “I have been lucky in my career to have worked with some inspiring women who have actively encouraged me to push myself and take on challenging work.  Having those role models who believed in me has given me the confidence to get to this point in my career and continue to learn new skills.  That spans from some of my teachers at school to managers through to senior leaders who’ve given me encouragement, mentoring or just a chance to show what I’m capable of.”

Danielle: “Warus Dirie – She used her platform as a supermodel and bond girl to shed light on the inhumane practice of FGM on young girls. This meant that more people were aware of the practice and were able to spot the signs and prevent, in some cases, the practice being done. It also paved the way for more education around the practice and how it is unnecessary and barbaric.”

What do you think the future looks like for women in the workplace?

Alexandra: “Hopefully, greater equality and equity i.e., a clear and easily accessible maternity policy that will support women during their maternity leave as well as supporting women returning back to work who wish to thrive in their career. Furthermore, greater knowledge around the menopause transition and how to support individuals going through this experience.”

Rebecca: “I’m hopeful it’s positive.  I think we need to embrace equity for all and help everyone realise those roles we’ve thought of as traditionally male or female, whether in or outside of work can be done by anyone; almost counterintuitively by normalising men in traditionally female roles we help normalise women in traditionally male roles which is equity for everyone.”

Danielle: “I think it is more promising than it was when my grandmother entered the workforce however, I think there is still a long way to go for complete equality.”

What struggles do you think women still experience in the workplace?

Alexandra: “Unfortunately, working in a gym environment seems to elicit inappropriate sexist comments (from members and colleagues). As a female PT, there is often the misconception that we are “too weak” to train men. How mistaken they are!”

Rebecca: “Globally a lot.  In the UK I think it’s more about expectations, people don’t expect women to be in certain roles so don’t recruit them in which means there are no role models which means women are less likely to go for those roles and it becomes a vicious circle.  I think the research into why women don’t apply for certain roles is interesting e.g. women are less likely than men to apply for a role unless they meet all the criteria on a job description, women are less likely to be selected if they are the only woman being interviewed – how can we overcome these things in a systemic fashion as well as encouraging on an individual basis?  I think the move to hybrid work has really helped everyone who has a caring role in their lives and would certainly have benefited me when my children were smaller – I think the normalisation of those sort of working patterns is only a good thing, particularly in encouraging more women into Technology; it’s not all about the ‘bro’ culture but that perception and expectation can be off putting for women when they are thinking about career paths to follow.”

Danielle: “Women are still frowned upon when needing to put their families first. I also hate to say it, but I think woman can be their own worst enemies. If a female boss rises, she does not always make it easier for other females to rise beneath her. There needs to be less competition between females in the workplace and more ‘straightening each other’s crowns’!”

How do you think people could best celebrate International Women's Day?

Alexandra: “Pick up a book. Listen to a podcast. Make the effort to enquire into learning about the barriers women have faced and continue to face in day-to-day life. Watch and engage in female sport, watch a film directed by a woman that passes the Bechdel test!”

Rebecca: “Chocolate for all the women in your life".More seriously, if you see a behaviour which is not equitable call it out – be an ally.  Ask the women you know how we can do better, we are all guilty of stereotypical thinking at times – I know I am – so challenge yourself as well as others.”

Danielle: “Something as small as a simple thank-you. It is often forgotten how powerful a simple thank-you can be! And CAKE, always time for cake.”

 How do you think businesses should celebrate International Women's Day? Is it important that they do this?

 Alexandra: “Hold workshops and talks inviting inspiring and knowledgeable role models to engage with staff. Devise and introduce compulsory training on appropriate behaviour at work, appropriate use of language, and active bystander training. Although these suggestions are not particularly celebratory, they are essential to ensure a comfortable, non-hostile working environment. Additionally, include the involvement of trans-women; the trans population are barely represented or acknowledge, currently.”

Rebecca: “It’s very important that businesses celebrate International Women’s Day but it should be through real, actionable change not through lip service.  Show what we’ve done to tackle inequality, what we continue to do tackle inequality.  Publishing a gender pay gap is irrelevant unless you have plans to address any gap or maintain a positive position.  Shout about role models, make sure policies and how they are enforced promote equality; make systemic change so that the culture is one that will not tolerate bad behaviour.”

Danielle: “I think it is important for businesses to celebrate International Women’s Day. It is important that the struggles women faced throughout history are remembered.  Celebrating women’s accomplishments in every field is vital for the future generations. How many more females will be encouraged to advocate for each other and seek to go further in the business world if we do?  I do not think there is any celebration that could show how amazing woman are.”

#IWD2023 #InternationalWomensDay #EmbraceEquity

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