March 6, 2023
International Women’s Day is something that, for many years, I never really celebrated. It’s not that I never saw a need for it, but perhaps the issues that it seeks to address just hadn’t fully resonated with me at that point.
Looking back on my own professional experience, I have always been led by a woman in business. I didn’t feel that authority and success were notions more likely to be associated with men, and I looked up to my female managers and leaders.
Subconsciously, I think I always needed a mentor and a role model, and having that for long periods of my career has undoubtedly led me up to where I am now, managing a busy coworking space in Islington.
TownSq Islington is a base for lots of solo entrepreneurs, freelancers and business owners who come and work from our shared space for that opportunity to connect with other people, perhaps spark ideas, and beat the isolation that can sometimes come with these positions.
Getting to know some of the inspiring women who are taking the leap to do this is a huge part of the reason I have become an advocate for International Women’s Day in recent years.
To me, this day is hugely important for these businesswomen to support one another, acknowledge each other’s achievements, share their challenges and act as role models for one another, just like the role models I had. This is especially valuable to these independent entrepreneurs who don’t have easy access to their peers who are in the same boat as them but isolated by the very nature of solo entrepreneurship.
But why is this support still needed?
When I think about the women leading businesses in our community, the common theme is that they are strong characters with confidence and independence. These are fantastic qualities, but does it also mean that women entrepreneurs need to have these specific characteristics to be taken seriously in business?
Why do we view stereotypical businesswomen as tenacious and tough, but don’t necessarily hold the same typical traits in mind when we picture a man in business? And where does this leave those women who are juggling motherhood with running their business, unable to put in late nights and travel extensively with a family to support at home?
These are the types of businesswoman who are much larger in number, but so often overlooked by those at the top. Women who don’t fit this description are left feeling isolated and even sometimes like they aren’t cut out for business.
There were more than 150,000 new women-led businesses created in 2022, doubling the number from four years previously, with the biggest leap being amongst the youngest category of entrepreneurs, aged 16 to 25. So, there are huge numbers of new female entrepreneurs entering the scene, many of them young, but so far are lacking in relatable role models and a sense of community.
That’s what I see International Women’s Day increasingly offering, through annual events and observances - a safe space for women to share their experiences, lift one another up and work towards improvements.
Time flies by quickly for everyone, so having the date as a placeholder in the calendar is vital for ensuring that conversations and connections surrounding women’s issues keep happening on a regular basis, just like the Christmas period is often a yearly excuse to catch up with friends and family who we don’t see often.
For me, at the helm of a growing business hub full of talented and inspiring female entrepreneurs, International Women’s Day will be a key day in the calendar from here on out.