International Women’s Day: Aspiring for Equity in 2023
This year, the theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) is #EmbraceEquity. This is the idea that in order to instil change, everyone needs to accept, adopt and advocate for an equal society where there is no stereotyping or bias towards gender, race, communities or other groups.
Our team have been thinking about how they embrace equity as individuals, as well as aspirations for achieving gender equality in 2023.
Equality in Sport
Back in 2022, women’s football took on a new lease of life with the incredible Euro’s win by our very own Lionesses. Not only did they achieve greatness in the Euro’s but they also managed to bag Sports Personality Team of the Year 2022. This success attracted 15.8 million new viewers to women’s sport in 2022 alone, with 27% of them going on to watch more female sporting content .
This increase in interest can surely only be a good thing for equalling out the gender playing field. Our Joint Managing Director Katherine has long been a keen football fan and plays regularly as part of her local team.
“Growing up in the UK in the 1980s meant girls played netball and boys played football at my junior school. I loved football. My dad took me to see his beloved Sunderland whenever they were playing down South. But in all honesty, it never even occurred to me to ask to play – it just wasn’t for me, because I was a girl who watched football (and that was already quite a departure from what girls were supposed to be interested in in the 80s).
So, in 2019 when our local ‘Football For Fathers’ team (and yes, we all see the irony in the name of the group!) opened a women’s session I embraced the opportunity even though I had never played before. I have loved playing a sport I had only ever watched, and seeing the hugely popular girls’ team that trains on the pitch next to us gives me huge hope and excitement for the future of women’s football.”
Despite the growing fanbase and enthusiasm for women’s sport, the visibility of these events does not always compare to that of men’s. In 2017, men’s sport received 8x more coverage than women’s sport in the UK during peak season. Yet, the impact of increased visibility was validated in 2022 when women’s sport received the highest number of viewing hours on record (325 million) , and the number of UK adults classing themselves as ‘big fans’ of women’s football tripled . In fact, 69% of the UK population believe that men’s and women’s sport should receive equal media coverage, with over a third of this group accepting this could be achieved through a reduction in men’s sport coverage .
Aspiration for 2023:
Offer women’s sport equal media coverage to match that of men’s sport, in order to increase visibility and encourage sport take up by younger females.
Equality in Parental Rights
The work/life balance is forever a struggle for mothers and fathers alike, yet UK females appear to bear a greater burden as 38% of mothers report that having children has harmed their career, compared to just 14% of fathers.
Whilst the UK introduced shared parental leave in 2015, a tiny 2% of females utilise the benefit due to drawbacks including lesser financial stability when the father is a higher earner . Along with poor enhanced paternity policies, this results in most males taking only the statutory paternity leave of 1-2 weeks .
In countries such as Sweden this is vastly different, as 480 days’ shared parental leave at 80% pay is given per child, with 90 days reserved exclusively for each parent . This results in fathers taking an average of 30% of all paid parental leave . This greater inclusion and equality in respect to rights is truly refreshing and something the UK could improve upon.
“We were surprised to find out that my husband’s company had amazing paternity leave, which meant he could take almost 6 months off to be at home with us. We made the most of it, and spent close to 4 months of that time in Sri Lanka where our kids were able to enjoy the island life surrounded by our extended family. It made a huge difference to their first few years, and luckily our careers weren’t damaged either.”
Aspiration for 2023:
Further improve legal parental entitlements in the UK to offer equality across genders, and better reflect different types of modern relationship.
Equality in Industries
Over the past few months we’ve found one downside of working from home – renovations! Along with apologising for noise and mess in the background of Zoom calls, a few of our consultants have also been making cups of tea and coffee for a predominantly male workforce.
Of all skilled trades professionals working in the UK construction sector – such as joiners, bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, and carpenters – just 1% are currently women, according to the latest Office for National Statistic figures. That represents just a 0.7% increase during the last decade .
“I’ve had a few experiences where tradesmen have been reluctant to discuss issues with me, in favour of my male partner. I hate the idea that this kind of bias may be discouraging females from physical professions, and have been trying to demonstrate the knowledge and capability of females through conversation and by taking on tasks myself. I’ve also found DIY to be good for my mental health – it can be surprisingly therapeutic and gives me a positive sense of accomplishment when I (eventually) finish each job!”
Despite the industry currently being male dominated, the number of women taking on construction and engineering apprenticeships in the UK has skyrocketed by 366% in the last five years . Whilst this is a great sign, further focus is needed on areas including equal pay and treatment in some industries in order to attract and retain a growing number of females.
Aspiration for 2023:
Increase the appeal and openness of male-dominated industries, by reducing bias and changing perceptions.
Embracing equity at System Concepts
Here at System Concepts, we are proud to say that we have many female colleagues, with our UX team particularly being female dominated at 86%. We feel this is something that should be celebrated, especially as its International Women’s Day.
As a group of women, we aim to be supportive of one another wherever we can, whether that’s in or outside of work. We like to think of ourselves as women supporting women. Anyone’s success is the whole team’s success, and we all work together to enable this.
An example of how we continue to support one another is through our monthly knowledge shares. All of us hold different knowledge and experience that is valuable, and so come together to share new skills and learnings with the rest of the team each month.
Aspiration for 2023:
As we look to our future in 2023, we hope for more of the same… a strong supportive environment, working hard to succeed as a team (male or female), and supporting equity in any ways we can!