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Celebrating International Women’s Day

Posted on March 08, 2018

Last year I was asked to speak at an event for International Women’s day and I choose to speak about the book Hurrah for Gin about surviving being a working mother, wife, friend, daughter and just me!

A lot has changed in the world in a year and I have been looking at the theme for this years event, to see if there is anything better than Gin to talk about this year!!

Maybe we all may need more Gin – (I am not promoting the consumption of any alcoholic beverage).

The World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away – there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress. And with global activism for women’s equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and more – there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.

International Women’s Day is not country, group or organisation specific. The day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere, and we have to look at the theme and see what it means to us all, and what we can do to keep pushing for progress.

Some may disagree, but I don’t think the #metoo #timesup campaigns sit well with us here in Scotland, I am not saying #MeToo is not an important movement, I support the brave women who have come forward, but this article isn’t about the awful behaviour of bad men. It’s about the potential fallout for everyone else.

Shared Responsibilities

People ask me what kind of ‘management books’ etc, I read and there are two Hurrah for Gin which keeps me grounded as a mum, employee, wife, friend and just me!!! And Lean In both of which I have forwarded onto friends both male and female, also new parents, to show them everything will be ok!

LeanIn are strong advocates of Men having an important role to play in reaching equality and everyone benefits when they do. Children with involved fathers are happier, healthier and more successful. Couples who share responsibilities have stronger marriages (that’s what I keep telling my husband)

Diverse teams and companies produce better results, its not about being male or female, its about all pulling together and pushing forward for progress.

I was really disillusioned about the sharp increase in male managers in the US saying they are uncomfortable mentoring women in the wake of the sexual harassment and #MeToo movement, according to a recent study by women’s empowerment nonprofit and online survey tool SurveyMonkey.

Here are some of the survey’s key findings, according to’s summary:

  • “Almost half of male managers are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together.”
  • “Almost 30% of male managers are uncomfortable working alone with a woman—more than twice as many as before.”
  • “The number of male managers who are uncomfortable mentoring women has more than tripled from 5% to 16%. This means that one in six male managers may now hesitate to mentor a woman.”
  • “Senior men are 3.5 times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner with a junior-level woman than with a junior-level man—and five times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior-level woman.”

I cannot blame them, the respondents are all based in the US – we are probably immune to most of this in Scotland and it has not hit us as hard – but what we don’t want are organisations now taking knee-jerk reactions to ensure they are are not encouraging and continuing with diverse mentorship etc.

Social media campaigns by their nature are incapable of moderation and completely unsuitable to any kind of serious study of particular relationships or social happenings.

Male Mentors

I for one would not be where I am today without some great male mentors in previous roles, those before I had children and those after. The male mentors I had before I had kids, basically gave me the bandwidth to innovate and lead and do the most amazing things in the IT industry in my 20’s.

The male mentors I had after I had kids, cemented this for me, giving me the space to find my way of doing things sometimes juggling and barely surviving by the seat of my pants, but I have kept two kids and a career alive!

Mother’s Guilt

Not one of them ever made me feel being a working mother would hinder me in anyway, I may have had my doubts and struggled with the ‘mothers guilt” from time to time especially when my kids were younger, but all that was self inflicted and I and other mothers cannot change the way they feel, and its ok to be honest about this!

But if I was given the choice to do it all over again, would I change it – No I wouldn’t, the only thing I would have done is gave myself more credit for the job I was doing!

It Can Work For Others

By doing it this way, I know it works, and I know it can work for other mothers, but it would not have worked without my Male mentors/bosses ensuring everything was good for me to do the job that they wanted and expected from me.

I have raised two children who have high aspirations, values of themselves, can multi-task and negotiate like total pro’s and don’t expect anything less from me around these attributes.

A New Role

It does get easier and when it does another curve ball arrives – this year for me I have added in the role of daughter in to who I am, because I did not really see it as a role before, I was used to being looked after and getting the guidance I needed from them for all different scenarios in life, but this year my Dad (in Ireland) had a serious set back in his health – and spent months in hospital hours away from his home.

I wanted to be with the person who probably mentored me more about life in general and brought all of us up to believe we could be whatever we wanted, and when there were roadblocks in our way we could talk them through with him!

With the support of my current mentor (who is female) I knew I was able to do what needed to be done, without feeling guilty about work, and knowing the team I have in place were able to keep things ticking over if I needed to vanish.

Employer’s Support

I have a supportive husband who just digs in and takes over (easier now that the girls can choose their own clothes), who also has a supportive employer who knows life is not always perfect!

I know there are lots of women not in the same position as me, and maybe not as vocal or feel strong enough about speaking up to help them be the person that they want to be, but it should not be down to individual women to do this, employers need to do this for us, so we can be the people we want to be, and get more brilliant women back into the workplace.

Lean In

So for this years International Women’s day I want to celebrate (and raise a gin again to) everyone who #leansin and makes working mothers jobs a pleasure, supportive and manageable, and for those who don’t lets #pushforprogress.

We are small country who can do anything, so lets do it!!!

P.S. I have deliberately not used “women in tech” as I believe this affects us all!!

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