International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day and the 100th women’s day at that. I’ll be honest, I didn’t realise it existed until fairly recently but I’m glad it does. I’m also glad to see the coverage on twitter and in the news, as well as all the events being held to raise awareness.

Now this leaves me in two minds. One, why do we need a women’s day? I know this argument is used every valentines, mothers and fathers day (but usually by people against the commercialism of those days), but why do we need a day to celebrate women? I am involved at the moment in activities to promote women in engineering, and get asked the same question about that.

Firstly with regards to the day – I think it’s important to remember that although British women (and those in most developed countries) do not face anywhere near the same challenges that they would have faced 100 years ago; we still do not have equality. And there are an awful lot of women in less developed cultures that face the same thing in 2011 that our relatives did, which is very scary. They face the kind of danger we fortunately don’t.

Secondly, with the Ingenious Women meeting tomorrow, for me an important statistic is that only 9% of people in a STEM (science, technology, engineering or maths) related career in the UK are women. So that definitely needs some work to help encourage women into these areas. And I know what you are thinking at the back, that’s because women aren’t interested in these areas – well that’s just not true. At the marshal training I went to on Saturday women were outnumbered but I would have said about a quarter of the people there were women. And judging by the queues for the ladies at the British GP there’s plenty more out there!

To celebrate international women’s day I thought I would share with you some topical articles that I have read recently.

ESPN have featured a profile about a female racing driver on their website to mark today – Helle Nice.  I’ve never heard of her but she sounds like an even more risqué version of Danica Patrick! http://en.espnf1.com/f1/motorsport/story/6716.html

James Allen discussed women drivers in F1 recently – http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2011/02/why-this-is-the-right-moment-for-women-drivers-in-f1/

In a male dominated sport such as Formula 1 it is interesting to hear Bernie Ecclestone say his successor will be female. This link  http://www.foxsports.com.au/motor-sports/formula-one/an-australian-woman-is-shaping-up-as-a-likely-successor-to-formula-one-boss-bernie-ecclestone/story-e6frf3zl-1226014747305 looks at who that might be.

Kate from Girlracer.co.uk recently sent me this link about research into how females learn at school, which makes me really glad to be involved in promoting STEM to a wider audience. It really enforces why this is all so important to me. http://www.slate.com/id/2286671/

I look forward to the day when it’s not worthy of a news story for these kind of achievements, for when it is the norm. Until then, every March 8th, I will be celebrating women all over the world.

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