8th March is International Women’s Day. This is a day to celebrate women in the workplace and to encourage every person – both women and men to play a part in helping drive better outcomes for women and helping to create a more gender inclusive world.
I have never personally felt that my gender has stopped me from doing what I wanted in life or in my career. I guess I grew up in a changing world where there were more opportunities. For my grandmother, this would have been so much different. At that time they would traditionally have done domestic jobs or stayed at home with the children; not having the opportunities in education as I did. I think we’ve moved on even more since I was at school and see lots of gender inclusive opportunities for children; including my step daughter playing football or the opportunities (or acceptance) she has to pursue careers that may have traditionally been associated with males.
Being a business owner I understand the challenges faced by those who run a business regardless of being a man or a woman. And being a Mum now too, the additional challenges I face trying to juggle both. I’m not sure there are as many Dad’s who stay at home to raise the children and run a business?
Running a business never really occurred to me as being an option when I was at school. However, I recently read that women account for under a third of those in self-employment, but over half the increase in self-employment since the recession started in 2008. Between 2008 and 2011 women accounted for an unprecedented 80% of the newly self-employed.
There are now almost 1.5 million women self-employed which represent an increase of around 300,000 since before the economic downturn
Women account for 17% of business owners, ie. owners/ managers/ employers. However, there is still a long way to go.
I feel passionate about being a woman in business, inspiring young girls and encouraging them to think about running a business as a future career. I feel proud of what I have achieved and keep achieving (despite often sending emails with a baby on my knee or catching up on work at 10 pm).
I have always been inspired by other women in business and looked up to them. People such as Jacqueline Gold and Karen Brady are my icons. Closer to home my old boss, Liz Pugh at Walk the Plank was such an inspiration to me.
For the past 2 years, I have won the award for Sole Trader of the year at the North West Enterprise Vision awards. These awards celebrate women and all we do in business. I feel this award really recognises what I have achieved and the battles I face running my own business. There are so many fantastic women in business that ought to be recognised and by having events like International Women’s Day and the EVA awards really highlights the power and influence women can have.
I hope that when my daughter enters the working world things have moved on even further – with more opportunities, equal pay and support for women’s advancement.