It’s International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is #PressForProgress. What does the word “progress” mean to you in regards to women and gender?
Progress to me means everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnic background or sexuality, understanding that equality between the sexes is a good thing for everyone. It is about people understanding the social, economic and cultural benefits of equality, and taking steps to eradicate barriers that prevent this from happening. Feminism is still often seen as a “dirty word” and I think a great indicator of progress is seeing an increasing number of men understanding that feminism is something that they can, should and want to support.
What is your role at the University of Stirling?
I’m Head of Student Support Services; I provide leadership to a team of staff who provide a wide range of support to students, from emotional support to financial guidance and much more in between!
What do you love about your job?
I love having the opportunity to take action that changes culture; that address the root cause of barriers to learning and that empowers students to achieve success and change their lives for the better.
What impact do you hope your work will have?
I hope that my work will lead to genuine culture change and help to create a society whereby students don’t have to face inequalities such as gender based violence or navigate barriers such as poor mental health. I want my work to empower students to achieve their potential, regardless of their background.
Who do you look up to?
I look up to women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, and who have successfully balanced a career with having children, such as Michelle Obama and Karen Brady. I know from personal experience it’s not always easy to get that balance right, but I think this provides children with some wonderful role models. I also look up to men who truly understand the societal benefits of gender equality, and who fight to ensure that women are not marginalised or treated unfairly.
What do you think needs to happen to help more women progress in their chosen careers?
Things that have really helped me progress in my career were an understanding manger, who appreciated that delivering outcomes was more important than being in the office from 9-5 Monday to Friday, and having access to flexible working arrangements that enabled me to balance my job and my childcare responsibilities. Also having managers who believed in me and strove to provide me with opportunities to develop, such as a hugely valuable secondment at a pivotal time in my career.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for women internationally right now, and what are the biggest opportunities for the future?
The biggest challenge for women globally now is the persistence of gender inequality, caused by deep-seated prejudices. Gender discrimination, abuse and gender-based violence are still rife across the world; until we can tackle the causes of this discrimination, true equality cannot be achieved and the world will suffer because of the failure to realise the massive economic, societal and cultural benefits of gender equality.
Why are days like International Women’s Day important to you?
IWD is important to me because it provides a platform to celebrate all the inspirational women that I know and that have changed and continue to change the world. It also provides an opportunity for men to celebrate the women in their lives and demonstrate to other men why gender equality and Feminism are beneficial to everyone, not just women.
How will you #PressforProgress in 2018?
Find out how you can take part by visiting the International Women’s Day 2018 website.
Join in the conversation on social media and use the hashtags #IWD2018, #InternationalWomen’sDay2018 and #PressForProgress