International Women's Day 2021 - Choose to Challenge
A challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change. IWD sees a number of missions to help forge a gender equal world. Celebrating women's achievements and increasing visibility, while calling out inequality, is key. At Kaleidoscope we're lucky to have so many women in leadership roles that provide shining examples of what women can achieve in the workplace, often while juggling family and all life's other commitments.
We asked our senior women about their experiences of working in leadership roles at Kaleidoscope; how do they feel empowered and supported, and what challenges have they faced along the way. Here’s what they had to say…
Through the early part of my working life, equality was not always visible. Being a working woman has created instances of sexualised comments, of sexual harassment and of earning less money than my male counterparts for exactly the same role.
Thankfully, as I have progressed through my career, and now as an older woman, working for GDAS and now Kaleidoscope these challenges are no longer present.I am proud to work for, and alongside some remarkable women, and men. The female managers within GDAS and Kaleidoscope have encouraged and inspired me along the way. To juggle a busy role, upskilling with additional qualifications, with bringing up children and running a busy home. All this takes multitasking to a whole new meaning. To do this with such commitment, compassion and drive is at times a tough balancing act, yet is one that I see time and time again within this service and organisation. Now being a female team leader, and one with a disability, the value of equality is part of everything I believe in, and I am proud to say that my project and organisation see me and everyone as equal. No matter your age, gender, disability, ethnicity, sexuality or gender identity, you can stand up and be counted as equal and are must be granted the same opportunities as others.
I feel empowered to have reached a Senior
position at this stage in my career. I am
inspired daily by the female line managers
that support me, and they have great influence on
everything I strive to achieve. As a manager of
women I continually work to reflect the level
of support I receive, and promote professional
development within my team. I think it is a
wonderful opportunity to lead as a female and
work alongside both male and females as
equals in this role.
Reflecting on a year since I last wrote, who could have known what was about to unfold! Close to a year of lockdowns and rounds of restrictions has tested us to our limits, and no one more so than the working mum for whom lockdown could have been called Perpetual Guilt.
Home working was a transition many of us struggled with; the lack of social contact, feelings of inadequacy and the need to prove your worth away from visible eyes. That was challenge enough. Add home schooling, never ending washing, shopping, and the increased cleaning that results from little people being home all day, and the belief that you are somehow failing at parenting creeps in. Their beyond comprehensible hours of screen time, their constant snacking when it’s easier to shoo them away with calorific treats and hope they’ll not hover near your never ending Zoom calls, pulling at your sleeves. And don’t get me started on the body dysmorphia that’s ensued from endless hours staring at our own faces on screen!
Of course there are men who have worked from home while having their share of home-schooling, but statistically it still falls on women to “keep house” whilst juggling it all. I sometimes find myself envious of my Gran, who at least didn’t have to work on top of it all! The perpetual guilt of feeling like a failing mother, friend, colleague is palpable. I endlessly compare myself to those who actually find time to teach their children and discover creative ways to keep them entertained, while my lot seem to have lost the ability to speak unless via an appliance. I shudder to think what they’ll say when they are parents themselves and reflect on how they spent their childhood. I’ll happily send messages of support and encouragement to friends on group chats, “you can only do what you can do”, “you’re doing great”, “don’t worry the kids will be fine”. It’s hard to accept that advice yourself when you’re plagued by doubts but these words are true. We need to give ourselves a break.
After almost a year in fight or flight, our mental and physical health can really begin to suffer. I echo what I said last year, and stress the importance of being kind. Kinder to ourselves and to each other. Be bold enough to recognise we’re doing great, we’ve survived, and the kids will catch up! As for being brave, I think we’ve all done that in our own way. Whether it’s using Google to help us teach primary level maths or dealing with a tragic loss or illness during this torrid time, all while keeping up a facade of normality for the sake of the kids so they weren’t as scared as we might have been at times. Women, all of us, keep being brilliantly Kind, Bold and Brave!