Celebrating International Women's Day

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Today marks International Women’s Day 2023 (IWD). Each year and in fact each day we should all make an effort to celebrate women’s achievements and fight the good fight for removing gender imbalance in our workplaces. A recent ONS report on gender pay gaps revealed that women earn 7.9% less than men, and 16% less in higher paying jobs. Fawcett Society 2022 Sex and Power Index showed that women are outnumbered 2:1 in the 5,166 positions of power in society. Although a lot of progress has been achieved over the years, we are still a long way from living in a world where gender imbalance doesn’t play a role in society.

Celebrating IWD means that every year we are able to use this opportunity to raise awareness and support women in traditionally male dominated industries. The theme this year is #EmbraceEquity, which focuses on creating an equitable and inclusive world that is free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. It asks that people worldwide join together to build more equitable communities. This theme embraces the idea that the world can celebrate its diverse and valuable women through inclusive actions. It is also important to understand the difference between equality and equity, and why ‘equal’ on its own, sometimes isn’t enough.

We spoke to Tiffany Kerruish, Co-Founder of The Fynoderee Distillery, Raquel Pueyo, Architect at Horncastle Thomas, Architects + Designers, and Ruth Meade Co-Owner of Red Mie, a farm in Ballaugh. Each have taken the time to share their passions and experiences from within their professions with us. 

What does Equity mean to you?

Tiffany Kerruish (TK): It means levelling the playing field and providing fair access to opportunity.

Raquel Pueyo (RP): To me, equity is closely linked to fairness and leads to equality. Women should have the same opportunities regardless of family commitments.

Ruth Meade (RM): For me equity is an expectation that everyone will be judged on their performance and the same opportunities offered to all who meet the requirements of any given role.

What advice do you have for women starting out a career in your sector?

TK: If you have a passion for craft spirits, then absolutely go for it! It’s such a creative, exciting world and a growing sector too, especially here on the Island where we now have 5 distilleries. The percentage of women distillers in the UK is rapidly growing and studies have shown that on average women have more taste buds and a more ‘sophisticated’ palate - important for developing flavour profiles and recipes for spirits. There are many excellent degree programmes and vocational qualifications in distilling with many other associated careers in the business aspects that surround the sector such as sales, logistics, marketing and PR.

RP: Architecture is a creative and challenging job that demands loads of energy and time, and it can be intimidating because it is a male-dominated sector. However, it gives you a lot of job satisfaction when your designs come to life.

RM: Just go for it, there is a lot of support out there and I’ve never felt like I’ve been treated differently because I’m a  woman -  I have always loved working outdoors and I find farming really fulfilling, even when it is tough! You have to love farming and have bags of resilience to keep at it because it’s a 24/7 job, however the community are always there with support if you need it.

Do you think enough is being done by your industry/professions to address gender imbalance?

TK: Yes and no! Since the craft spirits boom, there has never been more women getting involved in the sector as well as enjoying the products that we make!  However, there is a big disparity in the way brands, particularly Whiskey brands are still predominantly gender biased in their branding and communication which gives the impression of a very male dominated sector despite a growing number of female-owned brands and distilleries. Happily, the “Women in Whisky” movement is gaining pace and I look forward to seeing how the big brands react as well as being part of this myself!

RP: I think more could be done. The main issue most women encounter is the difficulty in juggling family and work commitments. Fortunately, flexible working hours and the option to work from home have become more common after the pandemic, and hopefully, this will help to retain women in the architecture sector. Mentoring and leadership training should be offered to women to develop their management skills.

RM: I don’t think its necessarily about any one industry adapting to make it more accessible to women, its more about women’s attitudes and having a ‘I can’ attitude to any role and this is a whole societal thing rather than a specific industry issue – the same would apply to men wanting to undertake a traditionally female role. Its possible that I’ve just been lucky, but I’ve never been told I can’t and the agricultural community here have always been really supportive, I know of quite a few women in agriculture on the Island and I’ve never felt that our views have been dismissed on the basis we are female.

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

TK: Keep an open mind and don’t panic if you don’t find the perfect niche or vocation straight away.  I love what I do at Fynoderee as I get to use a culmination of so many experiences, expertise and insights I have gathered through a marketing career in several industries along the way.  That said, if you are lucky enough to have a particular passion from an early stage look out for the apprentice schemes where you are offered a holistic understanding of the sector to fully appreciate and gain access to the varying opportunities out there.

RP: Most of us choose a career at a very early stage in our lives. Work experience placements and speaking with professionals in the field will give you an insight into the working life of an architect.

RM: I would encourage myself to take a stand against things I see that I don’t agree with, in the past I have sat back and said nothing, I’d tell myself be brave and be heard and its OK to disagree. I’m slowly getting better at this. I’ve found it quite hard putting what I really think down for these questions as I have made an assumption in my mind as to what people may want to hear and that’s not what I wanted to say - I want our children, boys and girls to know that anything is possible if you really set to, ask for help and are prepared to make sacrifices.

By celebrating International Women's Day, we improve our collective awareness of women's history and increase our understanding of bias, discrimination, and inequity. This awareness can help to push individuals to take actionable steps that can lead to overall change!

Check out our campaign from last year which focused around breaking the bias, you can watch our video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ybgoDF0Nns



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