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Celebrating International Women’s Day at Inspiring Scotland

Celebrating International Women’s Day at Inspiring Scotland

 

This March to mark International Women’s Day, a group of Inspiring Scotland  staff reflected on their own career experiences to prompt discussion, share stories and connect on all our individual experiences.  We #ChooseToChallenge by sharing these reflections today.

 

We posed these questions and prompts below:

• How would you choose to challenge gender bias and inequality?
• What challenges have you faced in your career as a woman? How did you overcome them?
• Are there any mentors or role models have positively impacted you in your career and what’s one lesson that they taught you?
• How have you managed to balance your career and personal life?
• What advice would you give to your younger self?

 

Helen, Deputy Chief Executive at Inspiring Scotland shares below the challenges she has faced in her career and positive role models who made an impact: 

What challenges have you faced in your career as a woman? How did you overcome them?

I couldn’t be part of the British Antarctic Survey Team although qualified, because I was a woman, and I couldn’t get into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the diplomatic track, again although passed the entrance exam, because I was gay. I am not a diplomat, nor have I been to the Antarctic so in some senses I haven’t overcome them. Although I did a lot of work on gay activism and was a founder of The Equality Network and now after many law changes, I could theoretically be a diplomat and BAS now allow women – so perhaps there is hope…

Are there any mentors or role models have positively impacted you in your career and what’s one lesson that they taught you?

Positively: Barbera Castle, Courtney Dauwalter, Friedo Kahlo, my grandmother. Do it your way, and don’t quit.

Negative experiences have also had an impact for example, you don’t need to be a horrible to younger women because you had it tough, you have nothing more to prove, and giving forward is actually quite cool.

How have you managed to balance your career and personal life?

Ha – who says I have?  My advice would be to set boundaries, stay off social media spaces that provide images of perfect people doing everything- that just rots your soul and self-confidence. Learn to live with compromise. Be kind. Apologise a lot at home. Buy in help if/when you can afford it.  Work out routines and methods so that the dull everyday activities are as frictionless as possible. Accept in your career there will be compromises to be had to having a full family life. ‘Having it all’ is  unattainable. Laugh at the ridiculousness of it as much as you can!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Negotiate for better pay and pension contributions as early as you can in your career – they compound.

Don’t defer to people because just because of their gender or age.

Don’t put up with jobs that are corrosive, leave and do something else.

Move more, spend more time outside.

 

Julia, Head of Development and Partnerships at Inspiring Scotland details her experiences below:

How would you choose to challenge gender bias and inequality?

We need to start in early years settings. Address stereotypes as early as possible and do some positive mythbusting around gender stereotype roles… in the home and in work. I love the Icelandic approach to this where children are encouraged to wear primary colours, no “princess” style outfits but play outdoors as much as possible.  Showing children examples of females in traditionally male dominated roles eg engineer, surgeon, joiner etc is an inspiring way to raise girls aspirations and self-belief.

How have you managed to balance your career and personal life?

I think this is the greatest challenge to balance as it often comes with guilt many women experience both around being good enough as a mother, as a colleague etc.  I suggest: Being assertive about putting your family needs first. Working for an organisation who understands  this stage in your life and accommodates your needs because they value you is so important. Reduce your hours if possible…I didn’t but on reflection wish I had done when my girls were young.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

To believe in yourself and take up every opportunity that presents itself.  To dream big and enjoy the journey.

 

Eilidh, Communications Manger at Inspiring Scotland shares what advice she would give to her younger self and the women who made an impact in her career.

How would you choose to challenge gender bias and inequality?

By asking, sharing and learning from each other’s experiences we can help to ensure changes are made for future generations.   We don’t have to ask for permission to  make changes, it’s our shared responsibility.

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

You don’t have to work out everything on your own. Don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with a diverse range of people from all walks of life.  So many women have been very generous with their time and probably didn’t realise the impact that their time and advice has had. And in return, I will always try to do the same.

Mary Craig the former Chief Executive of Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland was one of my early bosses and definitely a role model.

 

Albany, Comms & Programme Coordinator at Inspiring Scotland shares the challenges she has faced as young women in her career. 

What challenges have you faced in your career as a woman? How did you overcome them?

As a young woman with a generally gentle disposition, I’ve often found that people have a tendency to put me in a box e.g., ‘she’s too naïve to input on this’ or ‘she’s too nice for that job’ etc. People routinely and often subconsciously struggle to see that young women can be gentle yet strong, caring yet capable, and able to make hard decisions whilst keeping a hold of their kindness. I’ve been fortunate that over time in most of my jobs people have seen past this stereotype the more they worked with me. However, it remains something I and many of my friends continue to experience, especially when starting something new.

 

Gemma, Performance & Impact Advisor in the Equality and Human Rights team at Inspiring Scotland details how she aims to challenge gender bias by not perpetuating gender stereotypes when raising her children. 

I choose to challenge gender bias by not perpetuating gender stereotypes when it comes to raising our children. Clothes, toys, books, TV programmes are chosen because they are gender neutral or challenge bias. Myself and their dad make sure that the children see both of us taking on all the roles needed to run the house and bring them up. We both work part time so that childcare responsibilities are equally shared and the children view both of us equally when it comes to caring for them. Gender bias is everywhere and start influencing us the moment we’re born so it has to be a conscious choice to make a change to how we treat and talk to our children as a whole society.

 

Elaine, Performance Advisor & Specialist Volunteer Network Executive at Inspiring Scotland shares her experience below: 

How would you choose to challenge gender bias and inequality?

Through combining voices to advocate against gender bias and inequality. Lone voices are not enough.

What challenges have you faced in your career as a woman? How did you overcome them?

I spent 30 years spent in male-dominated financial services which served very many harsh lessons on glass ceilings and salary disparity. I campaigned for transparency and equality but I was a lone voice as the attitude was always “if you don’t like it you can leave” and knowing that in a male-dominated close knot business community I wound be branded as a trouble maker.

Are there any mentors or role models have positively impacted you in your career and what’s one lesson that they taught you? 

I wish I had had access to a mentor within my organisation I think that would have helped tremendously but that was not available in the then – it is now so I would encourage any young women to get a mentor or mentors – almost like a personal board of directors to challenge and support.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Reach out to others for support – get a mentor!

Amy, Communications officer at Inspiring Scotland details some of the challenges she has had to overcome in her career thus far and some of the positive role models who have inspired her.

What challenges have you faced in your career as a woman? How did you overcome them?

In one role I wasn’t invited out to the work lunch, all the men in the organisation were. It felt like I just wasn’t important enough to be invited out which was hurtful at the time. I soon realised it was just something ‘the men’ did. I also struggled with people not taking me serious early on in my career-as a young women that can often be a struggle we face! I refocused my attention to my job and tried to forge stronger relationships with colleagues who could often be dismissive of me. Although I must stress it should never be about constantly trying to prove yourself but simply allowing your talents to shine through.

I’m so inspired by many different women in both my personal and work life. My gran is such a strong women and has always encouraged me to follow my dreams! She taught me so much but the most important thing was the power of being resilient! Getting knockbacks is part of life but embracing these and learning from them can be incredibly powerful.

 

Michaela, CEO of Peek Project (part of the Inspiring Scotland portfolio of charities) shares her experiences as a CEO and young women.

What challenges have you faced in your career as a woman? How did you overcome them?

I think some people in the past have struggled to take me seriously because of my age and background. I’m a CEO of a medium sized charity who has just turned 30. I’m from a working class background, grew up in a social housing scheme and I didn’t go to university. 9 times out of 10 I’m the youngest in the room and there’s always a comment like ‘you’re too young to know this’ or both older women and men reminding me of their 30yrs+ experience in an attempt to try intimidate me. I used to try over compensate and prove myself to others but I have learned over the years to let your work ethic speak for itself and to focus my energies on the bigger picture.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Never let anyone make you feel like you and your voice are not important. Always use your moral compass and never compromise your values. You will make mistakes but the learning from them will be the making of you.

 

This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge – Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.   

 

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