International Women's Day

Tuesday 8th March 2022 marks International Women's Day. This year we wanted to bring the attention to some of the most inspiring, successful women in the PARN network that we have the pleasure of working alongside. 

We sent a series of questions about International Women's Day, personal experiences and advice they could offer, we hope that our readership finds value in their responses. 

Lizzie Lockett, CEO at The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

Why do you think it’s important to observe IWD?

I think the key word is 'International' - so much progress has been made in many countries towards gender equality, it's easy to become complacent. But a quick look around the world, where women are failed by societies that prevent them from becoming educated, supporting their families, and realising their dreams, shows how much is still to be done. Meanwhile, as recent sad events in the UK have reminded us, until women can walk as safely in the streets after dark - or even during daylight hours - as men, we need to keep focusing on equality, right around the world. 

How would you address the cultural issues that form the background of the gender pay gap?

It comes down to a total rethink of what is 'women's' work - and the value placed upon it. As we saw during the pandemic, many of the manual jobs that women had made them vulnerable to the virus and also unable to work at home. And too often they didn't receive proper sick pay or support. But many of these jobs are totally vital to society. We need to think again about the financial value of supportive work and also about the fact that these jobs are 'just for women'. One myth that plays against women is that we are the ones with the emotional response to the world - that's only true if you don't count anger as an emotion! Let's stop splitting work into emotional/financial and see what impact that has on value and the gender pay gap. 

What are the most effective ways to counteract the negative stereotypes of feminism, especially in the workplace?

Compassion - if we always think about what is the most compassionate thing we can do about the problem in front of us, nine times out of ten it will be the response that also supports equality and diversity. Then it becomes something for everyone to address - and something that everyone CAN address - and not just for 'feminists'. 

How do you succeed in a male dominated environment?

I have been very fortunate to have some strong male cheerleaders - if you find one, cherish them and let them know you value their support. 

What can men do to help to achieve equality?

Cheerlead, promote, listen, don't make assumptions. Call other men out for sexism - don't worry that you might be undermining the woman, just because you call it out doesn't mean she couldn't - or won't. 

What do you believe can be done to address gender stereotypes?

This has to start right back at school - with toy manufacturers, clothes shops, language from grandparents to children.... by the time we are grown ups it's almost too late! 

When will equality finally be met?

I am afraid I can't answer that!

What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?

I work for a veterinary regulator. There are now about 85% women students so you would think the job is done but sexism still exists and there is a power imbalance. The structures are also often set up by men even if no longer run by them. The biggest positive change is women coming into leadership roles and having the power and influence to change the system. 

How does IWD fit in with your overall EDI programme?

Our organisation has a very strong female senior leadership team and also for the first time this year an all-female presidential team on our Council. We will be focusing on this as part of our communications. 

What is your best piece of advice for young women entering the job market, especially those seeking a career in a male dominated field?

Work hard, be brave, be kind, find allies - of both sexes - and don't pull up the ladder behind you. 

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Posted March 7, 2022 by Kimberley Moreno
I'd like to take the opportunity to publicly thank both Linda and Lizzie for taking the time to contribute to our International Women's Day Q&A. Here at PARN we value the contribution of our members and take pride in our network. We hope that by collaborating on pieces such as this we can continue to highlight the accolades of individuals and organisations within the sector. 
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