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My Role Models for International Women's Day

Last year on International Women's Day I suggested we look to prominent women in the worlds of business, the arts, and social politics for role models on International Women’s Day, the day to celebrate women’s successes.

This year I have chosen role models in my own circle of family, friends, colleagues, mentors, and clients


I’d like to start by remembering my own mother, who, as the eldest child of three, left school at 14, did a shorthand and typing course and started work in a typing pool to help contribute to the family’s income. But she didn’t stop there. In every position she had, she learned as much as she could and then looked for the next challenge. She was working as a secretary and training other women at an industrial engineering company in Bristol when she was offered an opportunity to learn how to work with the new computers that the firm was introducing to manage payroll and supply. She ended up running the department.

My mother’s attitude was you can do it if you want to; you can learn it if you need to. Her openness and curiosity remind me how adaptable we have learned to be in our approach to our career. The new “polygamous” working, where people have various jobs, using their skills as needed, requires that approach.

She always made me feel that no door was closed to me, and she certainly never thought I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl. Gender equality was hardly mentioned; it was a given.

A couple of things stand out here: a can-do attitude, a willingness to learn new things, and a way of embracing an opportunity.

It is also worth noting her confidence in me, growing up, which gave me confidence in myself. Women who support other women, whether they are mothers, friends, colleagues, mentors, or managers, deserve our thanks. They are true role models.

I will look at some more role models I have known throughout the week and would also love to hear about yours.

Oh – and don’t forget to wear purple this week, to signal your solidarity with women round the world and justice and equality for all. Even more important in these times.

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