• Dr Francesca Maclean

5 things to do after International Women’s Day

These days, International Women’s Day isn’t just on the 8th March – it has expanded to a week or two of events held by almost every organisation. Amongst attending events and listening to keynote speakers, here are five ways you can genuinely contribute to gender equity when all the events are over for another year.


1. Take a woman out for coffee and discuss her career

Often, we let urgent deadlines, high-maintenance clients and the never-ending stream of emails get in the way of connecting with others – especially our early career professionals. Take a woman out for coffee (in person or virtually) and give her positive feedback on her performance, talk about her strengths and her career aspirations. If you are in the position to do so, think about what you can do to help her reach the goals you’re talking about – oooh, that would mean we are moving into sponsorship territory, how exciting!


2. Read a book on gender

I can guarantee you will learn something new by picking up a book about something you wouldn’t normally read. I highly recommend:


  • Inferior by Angela Saini

  • Stop Fixing Women by Catherine Fox

  • The Witches are Coming by Lindy West

  • Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine

  • Fed Up by Gemma Hartley

  • Rage Becomes Her by Soraya Chemaly

  • Can we all be Feminists edited by June Eric-Udorie

  • Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez


Got no time to read? No problems, you can access free audiobooks through your local library membership, or get exploring on your favourite podcast app.


3. Share a reflection on the role you’ve played (or will play)

Take some time out to reflect on the role you’ve played in advancing gender equity. What’s worked well, what hasn’t, and what has been the biggest or most common issue you face? Perhaps, you might reflect on times where you could have said or done something to be a better ally or better champion gender equity. Either way, make the time to share your reflections with someone else. Get talking about what you will keep doing / start doing and ask them to do the same. Check in with each other next month to keep yourselves accountable and spread the word!


4. Spend 1 hour upping your inclusive language skills

The culture we create through our words and actions have an immense impact of the lived experience of women, especially those studying and working in STEM. Spend a day noticing when you (or others) use the term girls or females (instead of women) and ‘guys’ to refer to a group of people. Then, dedicate 1 hour to learn more inclusive language options - check out these useful articles on why we should stop using the label ‘females’, stop using girls and start using women, and challenge the notion that ‘guys’ is gender neutral.


5. Commit to one action for the next year

Just like taking up running, learning how to bake macrons or to speak a new language, we will see greater progress for gender equity if we work towards that goal through consistent action. Have a think about what you’ve learnt doing steps 1-4 and identify a small yet relevant action for gender equity that you can consistently work on for the next year. This could be reviewing the gender diversity of your project teams / tutorials and trialling new ways to improve it, learning about intersectionality and the lived experiences of women from many different backgrounds, or petitioning your workplace for improved parental leave / family domestic violence leave / carer-friendly events and social gatherings.


By taking these 5 actions, not only would you have help shift the dial towards gender equity, but you’ll have a great learning journey to share at next year’s IWD events!

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