In aid of International Women’s Day 2023, we’re shining a light on the inspirational women we work with, collaborate with, or have pure admiration for as female pioneers within their fields.
As part of our Words of Wisdom blog series, we interviewed seven inspirational female founders from tech, PR, research and fundraising to discuss this year’s Embracing Equity theme.
I’ve always been described as a ‘bit of a lad’. Although I may not look like your usual Tom boy (my brother is aptly called Tom), I’ve often been told I have bigger balls than most men.
This may come from the fact that I’ve always had male best friends or the fact I’ve worked in heavily male-dominated sectors such as engineering and hospitality.
Unfortunately, I’ve had some negative experiences in these roles. Throughout my career, I’ve had to prove that 1) I’ve got a brain and 2) It’s not located in my breasts. Imagine if ladies eyed up men’s crotches in the same way?
I’m not suggesting that this has been all men throughout my career. I’ve had some truly inspirational male colleagues and managers, but I have also had some who did not understand the definition of equality.
In which areas should more efforts be employed to ensure more inclusiveness?
Unfortunately, I’ve had some negative experiences working in heavily male-dominated sectors.
Once, I was an Entertainment Manager for a well-known chain of bars. As I was taken on by the top dog of this revolutionary brand, it was safe to say that my direct manager did not like this. Like the rest of the team, I was not male, and he had not personally hired me.
He once threatened to sack me for hiring a hostess he deemed pretty but lazy. I was then ranted at only to hire girls like me with boobs AND a brain. Well, what a wonderfully sexist compliment.
Sadly, due to this general manager’s attitude, I had to leave a brand I loved. No matter how hard I worked or how well I performed, I would never do a good job in his eyes.
He would never appreciate any ‘equity’ I brought to my role and this attitude was interwoven into the culture of the brand’s top-level management.
Although disappointed, I refused to let this disable my career moving forward, and I’m glad to say that the culture and attitude at BEAM, where I now have a position as Growth Manager, are worlds apart.
Although a heavily female team, the environment is inclusive and supportive, with all employees recognised for their talents, not their gender.
What does embracing equity mean to you?
Embracing equity is not just about embracing equality; it’s about recognising the differences between women and men, not just physical but emotional and mental traits, and creating an even playing field for all employees to thrive.
Some say that women are better at multi-tasking and are better at STEM than boys. However, no one is better at anything unless given a chance to learn and grow.
I know this more than most following a stint in Engineering PR. Unfortunately, only 3% of engineers are women, which is a shame, as it not marketed to women as a career choice. Even more unfortunate is that 2 out of 3 women who start in the trade leave due to their male counterparts’ misogynist attitudes. Even though naturally, women are far more suited to the roles and have proven to be better at STEM subjects.
I learnt a LOT during my stint in engineering, and I’m now a fountain of knowledge about Linear Friction Welding. I did not have the foggiest about what this was when I started, but I was willing to learn, which is the key. And that is where the magic happens.
What I presumed would be ridiculously dull turned into a project working for NASA on rocket launches. Literally, worlds apart from your day-to-day manufacturing PR.
At awards ceremonies, being the only female in a room packed with hundreds of male engineers was daunting, but I always held my own. Some may not have respected my gender, but they could not disrespect my willingness to learn their trade and win awards for them!
Conclusively, employers can give you the opportunities to thrive; however, the onus is on you to wholeheartedly take that opportunity and not just embrace it, hug it to death!!
In what way can organisations be more inclusive to encompass marginalised and vulnerable groups such as youth, women, persons with disability and so forth?
At BEAM Fieldwork, the management is passionate about mental health and well-being at work. All the managers are trained in mental health, meaning anyone suffering will be given dedicated support from a line manager. They are also very flexible regarding your personal circumstances. For example, I’m a single mother with a 7-year-old, so I can work flexible hours to allow for school pick-ups.
Please share any good examples of practices, measures or initiatives that can be adopted, shared and/or scaled up.
BEAM Fieldwork has set up many worthwhile initiatives that recognise and support employees or those less fortunate.
As a business, we have become patrons of two charities, the MRBA, which supports those in market research going through hardship, and Kidscan, a children’s cancer research charity that funds finder gentler cancer treatments.
In the UK, 20% of children diagnosed with cancer will not survive because treatment options are limited. Of those who do survive, 60% will develop life-altering disabilities. This is because the treatments used are often designed for adults and therefore cause lasting damage to children’s smaller, more frail bodies.
Give Opinions and BEAM Fieldwork are about to conduct a pioneering study for cancer charity Kidscan, examining in-depth how schools and teachers can support and educate pupils and teachers about cancer and the life-long effects of treatments. This study will see an interactive mobile laboratory pop-up at schools, events and hospitals. The data will be used to form the basis of educational resource packs and interactive lessons delivered nationally to schools and hospitals in 2023.
To keep updated about the brilliant work BEAM Fieldwork and Give Opinions are doing with Kidscan, check out our blogs here: