Tuesday, 8 March 2016

International Women's Day 2016

So international women's day is over for another year, did you mark it in any way? Did your place of work? I have to say it's only in recent years have I actually known it existed, with no place of business I've ever worked marking it bar one, once! It was in fact started way back in the days of suffrage. It's made headlines in more recent years though and this year was no exception.
The theme this year was for planet 50:50 by 2030, a focus on gender parity. If you want to read more then do look at the official page http://www.internationalwomensday.com

I wanted to touch on IWD in this blog as the theme is equality, in all areas of life and as I'm a CV writer I will focus on careers.

Having worked in STEM industries my entire career, I have often observed how wide the gender gap is in terms of skill set, engineers are in the majority, men, scientists are in the majority, men, HR, mostly women. So what can be done about that? There's a point to tackling the issue with our peers, to bring sexism and inequality to the fore but international women's day should be used to target our smallest people, not to highlight the difficulties they may face as men and women but to reiterate the point that you can be anything you want to be, science, engineering, even space doesn't have to be for a majority sex. 
And this message should be a theme throughout their school lives, not just a one off. Certainly when I was at school there wasn't much work done on that as a subject, I remember a brief chat with a career guidance counsellor but nothing to light my technical fire, nothing that would make me want to find out more about building a bridge or finding a cure for cancer.
Nothing is wrong with any career but we have to ask ourselves why is society perpetuating the cliche that boys build stuff and girls nurture when both can do....both. More needs to be done to encourage boys and girls into different fields of work and to show that both are equally capable. The male dinosaurs that I've worked with in my time are slowly retiring, those that refuse to hold meetings with women in HR (yes really), those that ask questions about babies, childcare and marriage in interviews (yes really) and more open minded people are coming to the fore, actually holding discussions about encouraging women to retrain and how they can attract women to work in their business. But again, it needs to start earlier, you're not going to magically increase the number of female civil engineers in the marketplace but given time and effort, the girls taking their GCSEs now could well be designing bridges in 10 years time.