Item written by Rhiannon Davies.
According to a report from the World Economic Forum, it could take 170 years before men and women enjoy equal footing in politics, health, education and income. If that sounds far-fetched, consider that last year, instead of narrowing, the gender gap in fact reverted to where it had stood eight years previously.
Thankfully, International Women’s Day serves as a call to action, reminding us of the importance of gender parity as we mark the social, economic, political and cultural achievements of women worldwide. But jumping on the bandwagon isn’t enough. We all need to take responsibility - and that means committing to equality.
As Community & Events Manager at hedgehog lab, I'm happy with my achievements, but I could say that lack of confidence in my own abilities has been the biggest obstacle I've faced. It’s a difficult one to overcome, but I’m trying hard. I feel fortunate to have very supportive people around me to help me get past it - and the excitement in the office is infectious! We have an incredible work culture.
In order get a better understanding of the challenges faced by women, we asked other female colleagues: ‘What has been your biggest career obstacle?’.
Among those to take part was Client Partner, Katie Rhodes, who was the first in her family to attend university and has since gone on to achieve success in two male-dominated industries, construction and technology.
“Although my career is my biggest achievement, age has been my biggest obstacle,” she said. “Before I started working at hedgehog lab, I was frequently held back by my age, being told I was too young to be taken seriously while others with less experience and responsibility would get promoted or offered pay rises, simply because they were older.
“I love that hedgehog lab supports its staff, irrespective of age or gender. I work with inspiring women here every day - and our female presence will only grow stronger as the company expands, That’s exciting!”
In our office in Hyderabad, India - among the top ten improving countries for gender parity in 2016 - Sandhya Jalli works as a User Experience Designer, having been empowered to achieve her dream of becoming a professional.
In the past, Sandhya has felt the impact of the gender gap in the workplace - but is proud of how she challenged inequality and went on to progress herself.
“Throughout my life I have learnt from the world,” she said. “People I have met and situations that have presented themselves have taught me not only how to approach difficult moments, but how to overcome them.”
Indeed, Sandhya has long lived the principles of the #BeBoldForChange campaign.
“It is through these experiences that I have become a self-respecting, resolute woman,” she added. “Thanks to these, I can look at myself proudly and admire my personal and professional achievements.”
Back in Newcastle, Designer Hazel Chong is determined not only to make positive change in her own life - but to use that change to inspire others.
“I want to support female inventors,” she said. “I’m going to dedicate more of my free time to try to spot daily problems and begin to think of a solution as a side project. I’ll then use my experience to encourage others to push themselves.”
It’s how we act in here and now that truly makes a difference. So our Talent Manager, Julie Verrill, is supporting the #BeBoldForChange campaign through committing to challenging outdated attitudes whenever she encounters them.
“I hope that one day we can look back at that bit of ‘sideboob’ from Emma Watson and the subsequent negative reactions it received, and see how far we’ve really come,” she said.
“Going forward, I want to challenge this behaviour. It’s important that we see everyone working together to drive change. We should all be working towards a world in which we have more respect for each other and the planet as a whole.”
Interestingly, in the World Economic Forum’s study, politics was the area in which the lowest levels of male-female parity was observed. Yet it is a male politician who iOS Developer Minal Jadhav names as her greatest inspiration.
Minal, who works in our India office, said: “The former president of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, was not only a leader, but a great scientist and, above anything else, a simple and very strong human being.
“His speeches and interactions not only inspired me, but millions of others - particularly students.”
To see more of how hedgehog lab celebrated International Women's Day 2017 and how we will continue to support the #BeBoldForChange campaign during the year, visit our social channels. You can also tune into our IWD video here!