Over the last few years, we’ve taken the time to celebrate International Women’s Day and 2018 is no exception. This year’s theme of Press for Progress marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and equality, something we wholeheartedly believe in here. We spent some time chatting with some of our team about gender equality, International Women’s Day and what Press for Progress means to them:
What does Press for Progress mean to you?
Alex, Marketing Executive: Press for Progress means being totally equal to my male counterparts – to the extent that this conversation no longer needs to happen.
Sally, Account Director: I heard an advert on the radio for Hive. It set the scene of a mother suffering the freezing cold at her child’s football match and being able to heat up the house from her phone. The notable part – it talked about her little girl scoring the winning goal. Despite huge leaps in gender equality, it still stood out to me. In a good way of course! I suppose the day it does not stand out is the day we have truly combatted gender stereotypes. In line with this, and Press for Progress, I have pledged to challenge stereotypes and bias both in the industry I work in and the world around me.
Nicky, Planner: This means to challenge stereotypes and biases that limit women and break through the glass ceiling. The informal barriers that keep women from getting promotions, pay rises and other opportunities that our male counterparts enjoy. Press for progress also means to challenge convention – why do we not talk about childbirth and the menopause? Why do women who take time out of work to raise children feel like they have to apologise for nurturing our future generations? Why are women still represented in the media as mere objects of desire?
Tell us about an influential woman in your life
Ray, Digital Director: My mum instilled in me my sense of adventure, fearlessness and excitement. She is caring and loving whilst being 100% independent and sometimes maverick. Legend!
Jenny, Senior Designer: My Mum. She’s a superwoman! Her determination and positivity inspire me every day. This quote is my mantra both professionally and personally:
“If something is within your reach, then make it happen.”
What change would you like to see in the next generation?
Nicky: Parents are 2.5 times more likely to google “Is my son gifted?” than “Is my daughter gifted?”. There is also evidence that teachers are more likely to praise comments made by boys but merely acknowledge comments made by girls. Commonly held gender beliefs attribute language as a female domain and mathematics as a male one. These assumptions seem to define how girls and boys absorb social notions of masculine and feminine behaviours. In fact, a 2016 study by Professor Elizabeth Haines, found that gender stereotypes are as strong today as they were 30 years ago and that people are even more likely to believe that men avoid “traditional” female roles.
Although both genders were equally believed to assume financial obligations, make major decisions and handle financial matters – the strongest gender stereotypes for women were that they are more emotional, aware of others’ feelings, kind and warm and more likely to look after the house and cry. The strongest gender stereotypes for men were that they are more competitive, feel superior, and that they should be head of household and responsible for household repairs. I would like to hope that in another 30 years’ time we have made more positive progress towards breaking down these gender stereotypes.
Fay, Account Manager: It’s important young women feel included and are motivated to aim high from the very beginning.
Who is your ideal female icon? Is there someone you admire?
John, Managing Director: Karen Blackett, Chair of Mediaco. I was very impressed when I saw her speak last December at the UWE Distinguished Series event. As a black woman who has reached the top of her business, she was proud, articulate and compelling on the subjects of gender and race without making an issue of them.
Ray: Claire Calmejane, Director of Innovation at Lloyds Banking Group. Her CV is incredible. You just know she took every bold and brave decision she needed to in staying true to her aspiration.
Alec, Junior Account Manager: The two co-creators of Broad City, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, are pretty iconic for me. It’s a refreshing, modern portrayal of female friendships and it covers so many social and political issues in a funny and authentic way.
What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to succeed in your role?
John: Don’t think in terms of gender. Simply focus on the career you want and what it takes to be the best you can possibly be; any business worth working for will be gender-blind, looking simply for confident people with talent, enthusiasm, humility and an ability to work in a team.
Fay: Be patient, be positive, be confident, be strong-minded and – when it calls for it – be bullish. Seek out an efficacious mentor. Go after what you want and don’t let stigma or misogyny dampen your drive. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone but yourself.
Ruth: Effective communication is seriously important. You will come across conflict and attitudes you don’t agree with and sometimes will be deeply offended by. But that’s life, whether you are male or female.
Press for Progress has given us lots to think about this year. It’s inspired both the men and the women in our office to always strive for equality as a bare minimum in the workplace. If you feel inspired why not also take a look at last year’s blog post?