International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global celebration, taking place each year on the 8th of March.
It’s a day to recognise the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women as well as a movement that actively fights for gender equality (through marches, events, fundraising and more). For many, it’s a chance to reflect on how far women have come since the very first Women’s Day took place in 1909.
To celebrate, we interviewed several amazing women to find out what IWD means to them, how women can succeed in the workplace and where they turn to for inspiration.
As part of the series, we spoke to Joann Leeding, who works in senior management in an academic research organisation.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Celebrating the achievements of the women’s movement globally. Not just high profile successes. Championing the need for more equality in health, education and society for women.
What women’s issues need greater awareness in your opinion?
Lack of access to education for women worldwide. Strict laws in some countries that prohibit women from doing things we take for granted in the west, working, driving, going out for example.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to women entering leadership positions?
Misogynistic attitudes still pervade some workplaces. Perceptions around what women’s role should be at work and home. Women don’t have children on their own, usually men are involved (!), and so the burden of taking time out to care needs to be shared equally. This is still having a negative impact on women’s careers. Lack of good role models, although this is improving.
What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
Ignore the voice in your head that says you can’t do something. You can. I still struggle with this. Be yourself, if you don’t see someone who is like you don’t worry, you don’t need to copy the men around you to be successful.
How do you support women in your everyday life?
I hope I am a good colleague and support people whatever their gender to work hard. I hope my daughter views what I do as useful and doesn’t think that she can’t have both family and work, if she wants to.
What companies or business models do you admire?
I now work in academia and I’ve worked in the charity and public sector for most of my career. I really like the social enterprise models and I think that is the way forward to create more sustainable businesses.
What woman inspires you the most?
There are too many to mention from friends and family. Of the most recent famous women I’ve read Hilary Clinton’s biography and admired much of what she has achieved. I’m about to read Michelle Obama’s recent biography, she is amazing. I don’t feel the same about our recent or past female Prime Ministers!
Image credits: Unsplash.