IWD Interview: Looking forward

Our fourth interview for International Women’s Day 2023 is with Gemma Gray, strategic marketing consultant at Gray Consulting.

Represent has had the fortune of collaborating with Gemma on several projects. Here Represent’s Managing Director, Judith O’Leary, caught up with Gemma about the challenges facing women in work today, and why International Women’s Day remains relevant today.

Judith: What are the biggest obstacles facing women at work today?

Gemma: I am incredibly lucky to work with a range of clients and organisations who value the unique experiences that all members of the team bring. I am, however, acutely aware that this is not the case for many. From stereotyping and the lack of representation in leadership positions to imposter syndrome, there are many obstacles facing women at work. Some we have the power to change as individuals and for others we need to see a greater societal shift.

We all need great role models so the more women we see in positions of seniority, the better for future generations. Imposter syndrome is a struggle for many women and a hard internal dialogue to change; perhaps the continuing lack of equity plays its part in making some women think ‘Can I really do this?’.

Judith: I couldn’t agree more, female representation in leadership roles is vital to inspire young women – and something I wish I had more of growing up. After all, you cannot be what you can’t see.

Judith: What does gender equity look like to you?

Gemma: Equity, not just with regards to gender, but for all people regardless of identity, race, religion, background, ability and neurology means having the same opportunities, resources, treatment and support. Equal pay, equal promotion, equal leadership development and equal access to a successful work/life balance.

Equity isn’t easy or quick to achieve though because you need to challenge and dismantle the social and cultural norms that perpetuate discrimination and bias; this takes time and commitment. You need advocates and supporters so that all those things that perpetuate inequality such as unconscious bias and stereotyping are discussed and then properly addressed.

Judith: Excellently put Gemma! It’s an ongoing process of learning – and unlearning – and something that we all play a part in.

Judith: How can we raise young men to be better advocates for women?

Gemma: I don’t have a son, just a wonderful daughter, but I have worked in schools and seen friends raise fantastic boys. I believe that getting young men to not just support females but advocate for them is a really important step towards achieving gender equity.

Just as we teach our children about kindness and fairness, we should also be teaching them about what equality really means on every level. By encouraging empathy, fostering open communications, and encouraging young men to challenge traditional gender roles themselves, we are teaching them to be better humans which benefits everyone.

People can be quick to criticise the young, but I see the discussions they have in schools, the understanding of their rights and the acceptance they offer their peers as a huge step forward from when I was at school.

Judith: Agreed. I do have a son – two actually – and can see how much more progressive they are in their attitudes toward women (including their sister!) than when I was young.

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?

Gemma: Some question why we should have a day dedicated to celebrating women but until there is equity, it serves as a reminder that we are a long way off.

It is a day to unite and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, a day to show solidarity and inspire young women too. It’s a day when our voices are amplified. Conversely, it also raises awareness of the ongoing struggles women face around the globe. It adds a little bit of grit to the conversation on equity, it should give a dose of realism, make for some uncomfortable conversations – something I see as a positive. It should make people stop, think and evaluate what has been done, what needs to be done and how we continue to work towards equity for all.

Judith: I couldn’t have put it better myself! 

Thanks to Gemma for speaking to Represent in celebration of mark International Women’s Day.

See our social channels for more on #embracequity and #IWD23 and join the conversation around female equity!

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