International Women’s Day 2023 #digitALL
International Women’s Day is a chance to honour women and their contribution. While acknowledging issues of gender identification I am broadly defining women in the “old fashioned” way without any wish to marginalise those who disagree.
The origins of International Women’s Day come from acknowledgement of women in Russia and the Eastern bloc and the work they did to bring in the harvest. The Russian metro has images of happy workers in the fields. The United nations theme for this year is #embraceequality in many walks of life but especially in the digital economy #digitALL.
Are men running social media?
So many of those who work in the digital economy are men, and the social media are run by men .. Meta by Mark Zuckerberg (chairman, founder and chief executive officer) with a woman as second in command Sheryl Sandberg (executive director and chief operating officer) and Peggy Alford (non-executive director, executive vice president, global sales, PayPal).
Twitter has famously recently been bought for 4 billion by Elon Musk who now has a greatly reduced workforce. Linked In in owned by Microsoft, where Bill Gates owns 1% of the shares but is now concentrating on his eco and charity projects, and individuals and financial institutions like Blackrock and Baillie Gifford also own shares.
There are many groups that support women in digital environments to encourage them to take it up as a career. Those who do make it have a chance to stand out and be memorable. One who has connections with us at Attract Readers is Louise Towler founder of Indigo Tree. Her company works to reduce the carbon footprint of websites as well as making them more accessible. You can read Louise’s post for International Women’s Day in 2019. Writing about the conference spurred Louise to take a leadership role in her industry.
Of course one of the real pioneers was Ada Lovelace, daughter of Byron, who invented an early form of computer way back in the 1840’s. She is commemorated on Ada Lovelace Day October 10th. Her mother was apparently so worried she would be like Byron who was a “rake” that she was immersed in mathematics as a child. Spurred on by her mentor Charles Babbage she became instrumental in developing the Analytical Engine.
Women’s contribution to the economy
Good news this week. UK firms broke gender inclusivity targets.
For the first time, the proportion of women in boardroom roles at listed British firms has risen above 40 per cent, a report published this week revealed. FTSE 350 companies were set a 2025 deadline to achieve the 40 per cent target, which they hit three years early.
That is a big leap. Just over a decade ago, 152 of the 350 listed firms had no women on the board at all. It would be interesting to know whether the pandemic has had any effect. Progress has not been even, however. Women currently only hold 33.5 per cent of leadership roles below board level.
Women are starting more businesses
The world of entrepreneurship is attracting more women. A record number of women launched a business in the UK last year, despite the gloomy economic outlook.
Some 150,000 firms were created by female entrepreneurs in 2022, more than twice the number of 2018. Female-led companies now represent a fifth of all UK businesses, up from 16 per cent in 2018.
The figures are from the Rose Review 2023, an independent analysis of female entrepreneurship, led by the CEO of NatWest Group, Alison Rose. It suggests that the UK economy could benefit from a £250bn boost if women set up businesses at the same rate as men.
We hear time and again of the need for women to have role models to aspire to, and the importance of an inclusive network of support. Evidence of success and individual stories especially of setbacks overcome provide strong motivation.
Part of my role helping older women entrepreneurs with marketing and becoming more visible is to simply support the natural instincts for communication which I see my clients have. To help the internet become as natural as having a conversation in a coffee shop face to face with a human being.
The fact that so many women are writing blogs, engaging on social media and embracing podcasts is the first step. For women to be producers as well as consumers is a big shift in leadership.
Inclusivity in the wider sense #embraceequality
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to look back over the year and see what developments have occurred.
The English women’s football team under Sarina Weigman won the Euros and inspired watchers on the day as well as the setting up of football teams for girls. The match was played in an atmosphere of inclusivity and high standards which caught the imagination. Football has traditionally just been a male sport, and English football fans have a poor record of good behaviour. The female team have done a great deal to change the perception of football.
Leadership with values in the political arena. Nicola Sturgeon and Jacinda Ahern both announced their resignation from their leadership roles. They have decided when the time has come in line with their own values, and announced their resignation. They both showed a degree of self awareness which is not always part of the make up of leaders and politicians so it is to be applauded that they followed their own judgement.
The ideal for International Women’s Day is to honour women who do well in the wider world but live aligned to their values.
In the world of Art there has been a re-examining of the role of female artists who have previously been little regarded. “The Story of Art without Men” by Katy Hessel won Waterstones’ Book of the Year and implicitly carried forward the work of EH Gombrich who in 1950 published the famous study “The Story of Art”.
#EmbraceEquality as a right
Equality as a right defined not just by ethnicity, or gender seems to be developing in all aspects of society. As individuals who want to be living our best life it is important to marry the things we love with how we interact with the outside world. There is no point being rich and miserable, nor of resisting what you long to do but fail to start because the comfort zone seems too comfortable!
Do you have stories to add? Please make a comment whether it is about yourself or others. We would love to hear from you.