International Women’s Day & What It Means to the Women Of Evoluted
International Women's Day has been a vital event for over 100 years and this year with female staff at an all-time high, Evoluted are talking about what it means to be a woman working in digital.
We took some time out to have a chat about what International Women’s Day means to us, how we got to where we are now and what we want to change in the future - not just for Evoluted, but for the Digital Industry in Sheffield.
Jo believes the gender inequality in digital and technology is something we can absolutely change. She wants to see even more of the current opportunities that encourage women to enter the industry.
Jo - Digital Marketing
I think it’s really important to highlight that women are underrepresented in digital and tech, with men dominating the majority of roles.
While this is true, this is something we have the power to change.
I benefited from a fantastic initiative from Codebar.io. Codebar provide completely free weekly coding workshops (with pizza!) for anyone underrepresented in the technology world. You’re welcome to attend if you belong to at least one of the following groups: women, LGBTQ+ and people from underrepresented minority groups.
If they’re not in your area, you can complete the free, online tutorials online here too!
Initiatives like this are exactly what we need to help women enter the world of tech and increase gender diversity in this industry.
Codebar aren’t the only ones to offer this amazing chance. You can take a look at other opportunities here - ‘Places Where Girls Can Learn How to Code’
I sincerely hope there are many more to come too!>
Jenny is an advocate of rights for parents in the workplace to provide opportunities to balance professional and personal life.
Jenny - Design
I’ve always believed that women need to celebrate each other's achievements. International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to do this.
I work alongside seven brilliant, hard-working women. We all have each other’s backs and are willing to stand up and and shout when we think something isn’t right. But I’m also lucky enough to work with a great bunch of men who would be willing to do the same.
I’ve been a designer at Evoluted for nearly eight years and in that time my life has changed dramatically. The most notable event being becoming a mum to twins. Although I love being a mum, the sleep deprivation was very tough going!
After six months surviving on coffee to stay awake, returning to work part-time was a relief. I missed the kids but desperately needed to regain my sanity. I was able to pick working hours that suited me best. Along with flexible hours and regular work from home days, it’s made a work-life balance achievable.
It’s been amazing to have such an incredibly supportive work environment. There’s been times when the kids have fallen ill and I’ve had to run home on a moment's notice. There’s been days where I’ve been falling asleep at my desk. There’s never been an issue. Not once.I feel incredibly grateful for all of it.
It’s not this way for every parent though. I have friends who haven’t been able to afford to go back to work due to impossible childcare costs. Or employers who have no flexibility, making everyday life an impossible struggle.
There has been some progress - the 30 hours free childcare - that made a huge difference for me. But there’s still a long way to go. Hopefully more employers will continue to implement policies that change outdated ways of working and things like flexible working will be the norm.
Now the kids are a bit older and starting school soon, it’s spurred me on to get back on track and achieve more. I’m looking forward to getting back into the design community, attending events and being inspired by some amazing women on International Women’s Day.
Becky wants us to stand together in the fight against gender prejudice and oppression. She wants us to support each other to end outdated behaviours that should never be normalised.
Becky - Project Management
I write as a straight, white, abled, cis woman and I acknowledge the privilege that comes with that. I have spent 20 years in an industry dominated by a single gender, so I am also familiar with lacking certain privileges as well.
Each year on IWD I look back at the changes to being a woman I have seen both professionally and personally. March is also Women's History month, so looking back is important to help us learn as we move forward.
It was only 26 years ago I was prevented from taking a Computing GCSE because of my gender. I was told “If I wanted to learn secretarial skills I could take Typing as an elective during my A levels”.
It’s not the obvious issues with that which stick out to me now. It’s the less obvious ones.The fact that being a secretary was seen as only a job for a woman. The fact that being a secretary was seen as “low” job. This event only fuelled my desire to be treated on a equal footing.
But it also taught me to look down on women who did traditionally “women’s work”. I was taught to be complicit in the oppression of my own gender. That I should behave like a man if I wanted to succeed. That I should eschew femininity if I wanted to be taken seriously. That I should look down on and disparage women who behave unlike this, that they are setting a bad example and showing up the rest of us. I am ashamed and I have changed.
Each year I am so happy to see what has changed. I am so happy to see so many different women being themselves, and not trying to conform to someone else’s version. I am also aware that so many people are still unable to do this and that’s heartbreaking. There is so much more we need to do for give trans men and women the same opportunities and freedoms. There is so much more we need to do to be inclusive and not ablest.
For all the change and improvements there is so much still to do. I am so fiercely proud to see people calling out toxic work environments and declaring that it’s not ok to put up with racist, sexist, ablest, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic behaviour. It’s so hard to stand up and call it out because it is seen as an invitation to attack from those unable to cope with the changes in society, or those that are scared that the present is designed to obliterate them.
It’s so important to stand together, to support each other against outdated, hateful behaviour like this. To stop normalising it. To stop being complicit in the oppression of others.
Rebeca knows that representation matters, and wants to see more diverse role models for a better-balanced world
Rebeca - Project Management
International women’s day is a great way to reflect at how far we’ve come in achieving gender equality in the workplace, community and at home - but it is also a stark reminder about how far there still is to go. For me, it’s about challenging gender stereotypes and bias, celebrating our achievements and aiming towards a better gender balance.
I’m proud to be a working Mum and I’m pleased that employers are able, and willing, to offer part-time hours to both myself and my husband; so that we can maintain a balanced work and home life and set an example to our 2 sons that Mummy and Daddy are equal.
I have been working in digital agencies for the past 18 years and when I look back, there has been very little progression in the number of females in the workplace from when I first started to what I see today, most notably in design and development roles.
The lack in progress makes me sad and also makes me question why females still aren’t pursuing careers in STEM. Education at any age is key in helping break down barriers on gender stereotypes and having females as role models across all careers is vital to progress towards a better-balanced world.
Laura wants education opportunities to be relevant to the individual, not based on gender stereotypes.
Laura - Development
I am a web developer who also happens to be a woman. I have only met 2 other women who are devs, and one of those is my twin sister! My friend calls me a unicorn, because we're so rare.
I taught myself some basic code when I was still in school, but was never encouraged to pursue it as a career. I in fact received the complete opposite advice, and was pushed towards more traditionally feminine subjects such as English.
Some might argue that girls are not interested in taking up a STEM subject, but I can anecdotally disagree. I've also felt in the past as though I have to work harder than my male counterparts in order to be considered as skilful or dedicated as them. I know this may not be their fault, but it is a product of their environment. As a contrast, I am working with a great group of people and do feel an equal part of the team.
I think that International Women's Day is important, especially to those of us in male-dominated sectors. We get to highlight our experiences and start a discussion - with people of any gender.
My advice to anyone looking to enter a STEM field is to know that gender doesn't matter, and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, speak up about it. Gender has no influence on your ability.
Caroline hopes gender neutral roles will be the norm when her children start work, and that our differences should be celebrated rather than judged.
Caroline - Accounts
International Women’s Day is about recognising and celebrating areas in which women now have equality of choice and opportunity in whichever career they choose to pursue, whilst also focussing on those industries in which women are underrepresented.
I’ve been extremely lucky to never feel at any stage in my education or working life that there were experiences or opportunities that were off limits to me as a woman, but I’m very aware that not everyone has been so fortunate. My hope for my son and my daughter is that they have the same experience as me and that, by the time they enter the workplace, the concept of male or female jobs is outdated and firmly rooted in the past.
On a personal level though, International Women’s Day is about understanding and respecting the choices of other women in their personal and professional lives, whatever those choices may be. Since having my two children I’ve moved from a career in teaching, for which I’d spent many years studying and training, to a completely different industry working part-time hours from home.
This decision was influenced by many different factors but primarily by the excessive workload of teaching and how it would impact on the quality and quantity of time I was able to spend with my children.
Since that move, there have been many times where I have felt adversely judged for that decision and that I had to justify my choice. That I was, in some way, letting other women down by taking time out of the workplace and spending it instead with my children. I would like to see us celebrating all choices that women make as long as they’ve truly been free and autonomous choices.
What's Going On Locally For IWD?
There are loads of great events going on locally in Sheffield around International Women's Day, including:
- LadiesWineDesign IWD meet-up
- Gender Equality
- Events highlighted by Sheffield Hallam
- SheFest Sheffield
- An evening with illustrator & author Kate Pankhurst
People to Follow On Social Media
- Your Fat Friend: Fighting 'fatphobia' and challenging straight-sized bias
- LadiesWineDesign Sheffield: Monthly meet-up for designers and people into design
- Endless Love Creative: Drawing meet-up
- Sheffield Women In Technology: Raising profile of women in digital and technology in the local area
- Katie Mack: Science and space