It was International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8 March, and the University of Reading celebrated the day with the public event organised by Dr Madeleine Davies from the Department of English Literature.
As well as Dr Madeleine Davies, the speakers at the event included Dr Brian Feltham, Professor Clare Furneaux, Dr Orla Kennedy, Professor Rachel McCrindle, and Dr Mary Morrissey.
The non-funded event meant that both Davies and the speakers gave up their free time to celebrate the day and discuss issues revolving around women in today’s world. From the likability of Hillary Clinton to Judith Butler and Gender Theory, the topics discussed by the speakers were both diverse and informative.
One of the most surprising things I discovered from the evening from Rachel McCrindle’s talk was that only 9% of the engineering workforce in the UK is female. My shock at this figure was partially overturned by the measures companies are willing to go to in order to increase the number of female workers. The Company Goldieblox, for example, have created award-winning construction toys for girls in an effort to ‘disrupt the pink aisle’ and inspire future generations of female engineers.
The audience were not only fortunate enough to listen to such educated speakers, but later had the opportunity to debate with them ideas of women’s struggles and to ask the speakers questions. People were not shy to have their say and the discussion definitely signified to me the complexity of notions of gender, sexuality, and feminism.
To me, the fact that we are able to have such discussions and the successful turnout of the event shows the ever-growing interest and concern rooted in the relationship between gender and power.
From the evening, I reached the conclusion that although improvements have been and continue to be made in a bid to include and promote women in the world of business, there are still many barriers us women face—even from our own gender.
That being said, with the world filled with people like the speakers from the event, I feel hopeful that the change I want to see for women will indefinitely happen.