International Women’s Day - Are you a Boadicea?

by Anita Caldwell

Are you an outstanding female leader, breaking that glass ceiling, or with ambitions to do this?

International Women’s Day on the 8th March is celebrating women’s achievements (and how our attitudes are constantly changing about women in society and in the workplace…with the slow, positive and constant evolution that is needed and making this happen.)

We all are different, with different situations and the myriad of ‘real’ life happening for us all in the background to our working lives. I believe the good news today is that most women, fortunately, have a choice about how they live their lives to suit their own needs (and appreciate we all have to find a way to combine all our choices in life, or ‘responsibilities’ and make it work for ourselves in our own way.) 

From a recruitment viewpoint over the last 30 years, we have seen traditional glass ceilings in professions being broken, although they can still be there (at all levels in a workplace) especially if a woman allows there to be one. Unfortunately I also still believe a woman has to prove something extra to succeed. It has been good to see the formal drive for change in awareness and acceptance of women on companies’ Boards (and acknowledgment by some, of the advantages that a female perspective can give to overall business decision-making.)  We still see applications and shortlists which are predominantly male-biased in certain professional arenas, (due to the current market availability of experience and skills in many functions seen as traditionally ‘male-orientated’.)

There is still much to do to change this balance (and turn lip service, into real equal rights, pay and acceptance, in my view) although there is now clearly a wave and a multitude of young female pioneers who are appreciating the career-world is their oyster…if they make relevant choices at school and college and are confident in their own abilities to try something they want to do (outside of ‘the norm’.) Due to skill shortages, there are many positive industry initiatives now to promote equal opportunities, aiming to attract both female and male interest at a young age into industry sectors. Career ambition and initial career direction and guidance is acknowledged to stem from both education and personal upbringing… besides ultimately being down to a person’s own aptitude, drive, work ethic and passion to get on and do something they want to do, or enjoy doing….it’s never going to be ‘a given’ for either sex, or shouldn’t be.

It’s important that we keep making changes for the majority of women in working life who aren’t aiming for the Board level, but a rewarding ‘job’ and fair pay, and that includes allowing females to train, contribute and achieve in roles that are traditionally seen as male–orientated, such as in engineering, operations etc. (I am pleased to flag, coincidentally, this link to a like-minded client initiative today, a business that is concerned about ‘women in industry’ and cross-training skills in their company in such functions as Engineering, Warehousing, Production.) 

Women have always achieved in history, it’s not something new, we all know ‘individual’ women who have held important roles and been part of changing attitudes throughout our lives. Many of my own role models have been important influential females, who have broken through ‘ceilings’ of their day, independent-minded or working women….Mothers, Teachers, Head-teachers, Recruitment Managers and Directors in global groups and PLCs, senior women Directors as clients and candidates in major companies. Most women will encourage (and some inspire) other women to succeed and this is certainly what the International Women’s Day is about, (congratulations too, to the Colloids Ltd team initiative….)

We are not all aiming to be the next Board Director, but I do believe most women are Boadicea’s in their own rights and having to find ways of juggling work-life priorities nowadays. I also believe that we should be given the opportunity to work, if we wish, as equals in our chosen work environments.

(And in some ways for the future …I do wonder if we will ever regret ‘what we’ve wished for’, when women have full working equality …with overall life commitments still going on….or is it that time already now, compared to our parents’ generation!?) 


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