For well over a century International Women’s Day has celebrated the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and accelerated the call for women’s equality.
Today, the fight continues. Thanks to the progress of technology, we’re now exposed to more stories of women’s courage, ingenuity, and dedication than ever before. As a result, inspiration is everywhere.
Jennie Myring, Director of Professional Services
I’m constantly inspired by stories of women who refuse to take no for an answer and never second guess themselves.
I love to see light being shed on exceptional women throughout history, who have had the courage to do what’s right and be themselves. Such as the remarkable mathematicians in Hidden Figures who made a significant impact on the early years of the NASA Space Program. They were strong, intelligent women who built each other up and succeeded in the face of racism and sexism. Or, Erin Brockovich, who never gave up and fought to get justice for everyone effected by the Hinkley drinking water contamination.
And, anyone who knows me would also be aware of my guilty pleasure for Call the Midwife. Based on memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the show about the nuns of Poplar working as midwives in the 1950s demonstrates the importance of female friendship and support. Plus, I do love watching babies being born!
Considering the importance of film and TV as a medium for information, it’s important that these stories are told to empower and inspire generations to come.
Amie Lane, Head of Events
Michelle Obama has always inspired me and after reading ‘becoming’ I’m even more captivated by her. From her iconic fashion looks to her contagious positivity, her messages are profound and bold. I love how she pushes forward the idea that we should always prioritize self-care, use our own voices for change, and be ourselves — unapologetically.
The fact that she is refreshingly candid about how she grew up, the pressures she faced in the White House, and her family-first priorities – it helps to show that life is hard, but we can all seek out the best balance possible for ourselves.
It’s hard to summarize why Michelle Obama is such an inspiration to me so maybe it would help to use some of her own words:
- “One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so, when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.”
- “Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts … good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends that you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourselves with.”
in particularneed to keep an eye on their physical and mental health,because if we’re scurrying to and from appointments and errands, we don’t have a lot of time to take care of ourselves. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own “to do” list.”
- “Don’t ever make decisions based on fear. Make decisions based on hope and possibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t.”
- “Like I tell my daughters, women
andgirls can do whatever they want…..there’s no limit to what we, as women can, accomplish.”
Michelle Obama is extraordinarily relatable and down to earth – making her more real to all of us. She has continuously demonstrated the capacity to lead by example, to balance conflicting roles, to raise two strong daughters, and to still be in a loving marriage despite a lot of external pressure. To me she will always remain an inspiration for women and girls everywhere.
Don’t you want to be her friend? I do.
Julia Neuhold, Product Marketing Executive
While some may still find the term ‘feminism’ difficult to grasp – Feminist Fight Club brings it home. Every woman will recognize at least one situation described in the book. From being interrupted in a meeting you’re chairing and asked to get coffee, to being excluded from team building exercises because it’s assumed that “fantasy football just isn’t for women”. Sexism in the workplace is very much active, but it’s often so subtle that it goes unnoticed. In the Feminist Fight Club, Jessica Bennett manages to not only pinpoint the issue, she also provides ‘battle tactics’ on how to turn sexist situations around. Or as Bennett puts it; how to “carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man”. The Feminist Fight Club is relatable, and it’s absolutely hilarious.
But the main reason why I recommend this book to every young woman kick-starting her career is the underlying essence of the book: Women supporting women. It highlights the importance of making an active effort to mentor and empower female colleagues. Making space for them to present their ideas, acknowledge their achievements, to listen and to promote them in whatever way possible. After all, we’re all part of the fight club. If we like it or not.
Adele Boesinger, Internal Trainer
“If you really prepare for something, you’re more likely to have success … but when you fail, you do get stronger.”
The term ‘legend’ is bandied around an awful lot. So much in fact, that when it comes to describing athletes like Paula Radcliffe, it kind of feels inadequate. The quote above is one of many from her that have inspired me, personally, professionally, and in pursuit of my running goals.
To me, she is an icon – and not just in the running community. Not only does she still hold the women’s marathon world record – an incredible 2:15:25 – she has also won both the London and New York Marathons three times over, won major international championships, and competed in four Olympic Games. In the process, she has inspired millions of female runners around the world to unleash their potential. And I’m proud to include myself among them.
Watching her battle through injuries and adversities has taught me to never to give up, and not be afraid to push my boundaries. Though she hung up her competitive racing shoes in 2015, her legend and love of running is as strong as ever. I recently heard her speak at the National Running Show in Birmingham where she shared stories of overcoming training battles. Something that really resounded with me was her advice to “tak[e] it steadily, day by day. Set baby targets. And bring the same dedication to your rehabilitation as you would bring to your training.”
Whether it’s a tough run, or a difficult day, Paula’s attitude toward her sport and training really resonates with the outlook I try to have on life in general. Her career, words and perspective on life will continue to be an inspiration to me.
Sanam Arshad, Online Marketing Executive
On a day like today, I want to celebrate my inspirational sister, Saima Thompson.
She’s a force to be reckoned with. She’s a restaurateur, blogger, inspirational speaker, and doing all this whilst living with stage 4 lung cancer at 29 years old.
Since being given the bombshell diagnosis, Saima hasn’t let cancer stop her, it’s made her thrive. During her own personal journey that is cancer, she still wants to help others. We come from a south Asian family, and she found there was a big issue in our community around an unwillingness to discuss health issues. So, Saima has made it her mission to demystify cancer and get south Asians talking open about the disease.
Saima has always put others first. As the oldest of four sisters, she has always protected the family and supported us, no matter what. She’s always fought for what she believes, and her efforts have been recognized publicly! With the help of her blog, Curry and Cancer, Saima has been raising awareness and encouraging conversations on BBC London and in the Houses of Parliament.
Each day, Saima never fails to inspire me. She’s made me see that life is what you make it and the small things that you’d normally worry about, just don’t matter. She’s showed me that no matter what obstacles you come across, there should always be a drive to make things better. Listen to your body, take time out for yourself and love the ones closest to you.
Jenna Paton, Content Executive
My first exposure to gender bias (that I can remember) came while watching Legally Blonde.
Yes. I do mean the brilliant rom-com starring Reese Witherspoon.
Stereotyped as a dumb blonde, no one expected much from Elle Woods. She was objectified and demeaned by those around her, by men and women alike. She didn’t fit in. She wore pink, liked getting manicures, and carried her tiny dog around in her purse. She didn’t belong among the scholars at Harvard Law School. But, Elle refused to change to fit in.
She smashed down the walls that said she wouldn’t make it as a lawyer. In the process, she demonstrated the importance of staying true to yourself and supporting those around you. Whether it was the woman who did her nails, her socially awkward classmate, or her ex-boyfriend’s fiancé, Elle was there to help people when they needed it, simply because she could. She refused to change who she was. Yes, she liked shopping, popular culture and pampering herself, but why would that mean she wouldn’t be a good lawyer?
This movie came out when I was 8 years-old. It was a couple of years before I watched it for the first time, and a couple more before I properly understood it, but when I did, I was changed for the better. Elle Woods taught me to be that it’s always okay to be myself, and to accept others for the same, to never let gender or stereotyping hold me back. If I want something, I can achieve it, as long as I put my mind to it.
Holly Leverson, Recruitment Lead
As the parity of gender roles in society has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years, this is an exhilarating time to be a woman. From Queen Elizabeth I to Sheryl Sandberg, there are exhaustive examples of prominent female role models we can look to who have forged change in male-dominated professions.
Through sheer determination and a refusal to be overlooked, interrupted, or disregarded, all these women’s brilliance and strength have improved our world for both themselves and for us all immeasurably, even when we don’t realize it. We have so much to celebrate. We have so much to keep working hard for.
Conscious and subconscious bias are alive and well in many areas of our modern society and workplaces. Throughout my career, I have experienced and observed countless examples of subtle and insidious gender bias, as well as the outright unacceptable. With applied consideration and an insistence for change, many of us are taking steps to improve the divides that have existed for so long.
The best advice I could offer to any woman, whether at the beginning or latter stages of their career or life, would be to encourage and support other women in their growth and to reach onwards and upwards without fear of failure. When we fail to claim what is ours, there will always be another to take our place; often those others (female or male) aren’t as suitable as we are, and we miss opportunities. I have also been guilty of this in the past.
At dotdigital we are all extremely fortunate to work in an environment where we are valued for our contributions and given equal opportunity to grow, regardless of gender. From calling out toxic behaviors to stepping up, we are all responsible for creating better companies to work in and I encourage all individuals out there to do the same.
Tamara Bond, Email Delivery Engineer
When I entered the tech industry almost 7 years ago, I was lucky enough to join an unusual team of developers and engineers: 6 of the 10 of us were women.
It took 18 months before I experienced my first incident of in-person professional sexism. I arrived at a data center, tasked with installing new web servers. Despite having been there several times before with male colleagues, the data center engineer who answered the door tried to turn me away, redirecting me to the marketing department in another building.
It was a stark reminder that the tech world, outside the bubble of fiercely intelligent women I worked in, was still an inhospitable environment to anyone identifying as female. I wish I could say that was the first and only time something like that has happened to me, but it’s an ongoing challenge working in tech.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ said, “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful.”
This International Women’s Day, I would like to celebrate all the inspirational women I work with at dotdigital who are breaking the mould – the developers and engineers, project and product managers, technical consultants and experts. They don’t limit their ambition or minimize their successes, and they give me the strength to keep pushing myself to be better.
We are all taking up space to make space for the next generation of women in tech, and I’m optimistic that they will never have to face the same challenges we have overcome.
International Women’s Day belongs to all groups, collectively, everywhere. The pursuit of gender equality is simply a pursuit of basic human rights. Make everyday International Women’s Day and embrace #balanceforbetter for good.