The Business Exchange is proud to support the
Women’s Day #ChooseToChallenge campaign.
This year we’ve reached out to the women in our community to hear their
experiences of being a woman in business, discover why International Women’s
Day is important to them and find out what they #ChooseToChallenge.
I #ChooseToChallenge gender stereotypes. We’ve come a
long way, but there’s still a long way to go and I fear the pandemic may have
set us back, particularly around assumptions about which parent is responsible
for childcare when both are working.
Why is International Women’s Day important to you?
It celebrates the fantastic achievements of
women and seeks to accelerate gender parity. A cause which I am sad is still
necessary in 2021, but it is and so it is great to have a day focussing on the
What do we still need to do for gender equality?
Challenge mindsets and call out biased views
and actions as they happen – both to ourselves and if we observe them happening
to others. We must speak up at the time and not just take to social media to
moan about things later.
What did you want to be when you were young? Have you ended up
doing what you always wanted to? Has being a woman held you
I am fortunate in that I don’t feel being a
woman has held me back. I went to a predominantly boys’ boarding school which
definitely shaped me as a person; we were all treated equally and many of the
subjects one might associate with girls just didn’t exist.
I joined the graduate scheme of a company in a
very male-dominated industry and by the age of 22 I was an Area Manager
managing 16 people (mostly men) with the youngest being twice my age, and I
Running my own business I have always thought
of myself as a business person and not a business lady, as I don’t see what
difference being a woman makes. But for the first time I really noticed gender
disparity, for example the bank calling and asking to speak to my husband
despite my name being on the business account.
For a long time I also didn’t see the point of
days like International Women’s Day. I didn’t feel these issues were ones that
applied to me. However, as I’ve grown in the world of business I do see issues
of gender disparity all around me and just because I’ve rarely felt directly
affected it doesn’t mean that they’re not there. Perhaps it makes me even
better placed to do something about it.
was thrilled to be chosen as one of the #iAlso100 campaign for 2021. It’s a
campaign that highlights inspiring female business leaders across the UK. The
campaign does loads to inspire other female businesspeople and I am proud to be
part of it and the work done to encourage other women in business.
What is your advice to your younger self and what are your tips to
nurture the strong independent girls of the future?
My daughter has just turned 10 and I see a lot
of my younger self in her. As parents we encourage her to do what she wants to
do and we will continue to do that.
I’ve noticed that things that are still
remarkable to me are met with a ‘Yeah, and?’ attitude by my daughter. An
example of this was when we went to watch some motorbike racing at the Castle
Coombe racetrack. The riders were predominantly men and I remarked on one race
winner, the only female in that race. Grace didn’t see this as remarkable at
all – I took that as a heartening sign that things may be truly changing.
the IWD campaign on social media using the hashtags #IWD2021 and
out more about International