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Please help me make my company's International Women's Day not crap

(30 Posts)
KeyserSophie Thu 09-Feb-17 04:38:21

I'm working on International Women's Day at my work place. I have managed to get the committee away from a Hallmark vom fest of "appreciating" women while keeping them firmly in their assigned roles (paper flower making anyone?), but the downside is that I now have to basically organise an alternative.

There will be one actual hour long event, which will probably be some sort of (short- 10 mins) film clip followed by a facilitated discussion (whole company invited so not just women) and then we're also planning to have some stuff up on screens around the office/ screensavers etc. over the week. Maybe also something around "He for She".

However, i really need some ideas of good video shorts, quotes, infographics etc that make people think about their own biases - one of my ideas was using some quotes from The Man Who has it All, and I like those things (dont know what they're called- sorry) where you see the person drawing in real time and it tells a story. Outside the main event we wont have sound so it needs to be quotes, pictures or infographics.

Another possibility is a showing of a longer documentary as an early evening event so any suggestions of feature length feminist documentaries would be great- not the body one though as I dont think we can show vaginas in the office grin

I'm not in the UK so stuff that is broadly applicable rather than being too UK centric would be ideal.

Any help appreciated.

Datun Thu 09-Feb-17 08:14:07


I'm not educated in feminist history. I've become interested and indignant in equal measure, largely as a result of listening to what women have said on here and then reading up about it.

But early on I read a timeline (in list form) of the history of women's rights. Seeing it in black-and-white as an achingly slow process was eye opening. Particularly as I'm not young - many of the rights have only been secured during my lifetime. Some after I got married. Like making rape within marriage illegal, only in 1991. And the fact that a pub landlord could refuse to serve me on the grounds of my sex - I was 21 before that law changed and had been drinking in pubs without that little nugget of information for years!

Younger people take a lot of these rights for granted (although, the rape within marriage often shocks them). Showing how resistant governments were to the rights that they are able to enjoy and expect and don't even think about, can give pause. (It took 15 years for the rape/marriage one to be ratified).

The above doesn't 'celebrate' womanhood as much as show how precarious a status it has.

And it might not be the angle you are looking for.

BoboChic Thu 09-Feb-17 08:21:11

I think you need to start from your actual audience i.e. the women who work in your organisation. Who speaks for them? My current female icons are Michelle Obama, Mimi Thorisson, Julianne Moore, Rose Uniacke, Federica Mogherini... who are theirs? There is nothing more cringeworthy than being told that e.g. Emma Watson speaks for me. No she doesn't.

CMOTDibbler Thu 09-Feb-17 08:35:45

One of the short clips you could use is the one where children are asked to draw a doctor/firefighter etc and they all draw male figures - then get to meet these people and they are all female. Its a good discussion of unconscious bias.

Its also a good time to ask for some gender mix analysis in your company - in the c suite, senior managers and so on.
Maybe a survey for all workers on what would make their working life and home/work life balance better. Usually shows that men, women, and millenialls (a hot topic atm) want the same thing unsuprisingly. But is an important message that flexibility around working patterns for instance is not a women with children issue, its something that is valued by everyone

BoboChic Thu 09-Feb-17 08:40:14

Is a celebration of International Women's Day the right time to draw attention to inequality? And "issues"? Or is it rather the time to celebrate authentic female voices and successes in a wide range of domains?

BoboChic Thu 09-Feb-17 08:45:40

I think that IWD in a company is about encouraging everyone (women and men) to value women's existing contribution and to want more of it. Everyone needs to feel cheered by it.

KeyserSophie Thu 09-Feb-17 12:39:17

Agree but at the same time, if people want women to contribute more, then they have to change their behaviour to facilitate that. It's not just going to happen by itself and being too celebratory can be interpreted as "if Sheryl Sandberg can do it, all women can." The fact is, women are hugely underrepresented in senior positions and positions of influence.

Our gender stats are pretty woeful (in terms of % women in senior positions) but on the flip side, management v focused on changing that and want us to open up the debate.

Our diversity initiative to date has been focused on challenging people and making them feel a bit uncomfortable, and it's been well received- so the LGBT and disability events have focused on challenges - rather than "let's all celebrate Alan who has run a marathon despite having no arms and a prosthetic leg and then go back to our desks and think he's fine because he can run" it's "Alan's life basically sucks because despite having a masters in applied maths he cant get a job , cant drive and struggles daily with public transport so what shall we do to address that?"

CMOT I think we're going to use the firefighter clip as an lead in to a discussion about conditioning and how gender roles are established really early in life.

AllTheLight Thu 09-Feb-17 12:41:49

Place marking as I'm involved in organising our IWD event!

BoboChic Thu 09-Feb-17 14:18:27

Is IWD a diversity initiative? I'm not sure.

venusinscorpio Thu 09-Feb-17 19:02:27

I would go for a mix of both, celebrating women while examining the challenges they face, particularly in the developing world.

Shallishanti Thu 09-Feb-17 19:50:51

I think the man who has it all stuff would be good- humour is a good tool

venusinscorpio Thu 09-Feb-17 20:20:17

I meant to say acknowledging not examining! I didn't mean in depth smile

DeviTheGaelet Thu 09-Feb-17 20:58:02

What about getting women in your company to do a short clip of something they've achieved (could be work or outside). So rather than the company appreciating them, they are appreciating themselves. You could even ask them to put up stuff they are proud of but feel underappreciated for....

FartnissEverbeans Fri 10-Feb-17 06:39:03

If you're looking for a funny clip to lighten the tone I often use the Harry Enfield sketch 'Women: Know Your Place' when I'm teaching GCSE and A-Level. It's only a few minutes and it always gets a laugh.

I love the idea of using Man Who Has It All. Why not start with one of the tweets, but in its 'original' form, as a starter for discussion, then show them the subverted form from the twitter feed? For example, have a short discussion on the question "Should there be a push to create more dynamic female characters in film?" or start with "TODAY'S FACT: Did you know that it helps to have a woman’s voice at the table when decisions are taken that affect both sexes?" Then change the gender to 'men' and discuss the ramifications of that.

The Bechdel test could also be quite a fun tool to use. It can be really hard to think up examples of film and TV that 'pass'!

Loraline Fri 10-Feb-17 07:04:53

For something awareness raising amd visually interesting you could try one of the videos. They're a few years but they're great and would work with no sound. This was the one that caught my attention a few years back.

sashh Fri 10-Feb-17 07:09:55

Ada Lovelace and Grace hopper are my go to start for this, google them but basically the first invented computer programming before computers existed (there was a plan for a difference engine) the latter was also a programming genius and the inventor of the term 'debugging' as she had to extricate insects from her computers.

The quote about Fred Astaire being a great dancer, but Ginger Rodgers did everything he did backwards and in heals.

When NASA were sending someone to the moon there were a few women contenders, they actually did better in the physiological tests than the men and used less oxygen - which was significant as it all had to be taken with them so less oxygen = lighter payload = easier to get to the moon but they were actively blocked at every turn. Of course women were allowed to write the software to get men to the moon.

Some fun stuff too.

There is a 'walk a mile in her shoes' campaign that could be adapted and raise money as well.

Send invitations to everyone, but send the married men's to 'spouse of X' or Mr wife's name (or husband's name)

Truckingalong Fri 10-Feb-17 07:27:48

I'd do something around children/daughters, as many of your colleagues will have daughters, so it resonates more with them. Do the 'Runs like a girl' video.

WhereAreWeNow Fri 10-Feb-17 09:35:56

BoboChic IWD actually has really radical origins - very far removed from the "let's celebrate women with a bunch of flowers"/Hallmark card type thing that some people see it as today. It was part of the movement for women's suffrage and women's right to work and to equal pay.
So hats off to OP for trying to steer company IWD event away from twee Hallmark type celebration.
OP Could you do something tailored to your industry? I don't think you've said what kind of company you work for but lots of industries have organisations campaigning for women (eg. there are organisations for women in film, women in rail, women in engineering etc) and lots of those organisations have produced their own films etc and might even be able to provide a speaker.
Or how about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED talk on why we should all be feminists?

BoboChic Fri 10-Feb-17 09:41:34

I know what IWD's origins are and they long predate the diversity agenda. I also don't think that women, who make up half of humanity, are a special interest group within a diversity policy.

venusinscorpio Fri 10-Feb-17 10:17:07

I'm not sure why you wouldn't show the Man Who Has It All tweets as they are to get the humour across and then discuss what they are actually saying and why reversing the sexes sounds a bit absurd and is funny. IMO you would lose the impact doing it the other way round.

venusinscorpio Fri 10-Feb-17 10:18:05

But the suggestion of the Harry Enfield clip is great.

KeyserSophie Fri 10-Feb-17 10:33:02

Thanks all- some really helpful ideas. Current thoughts are to focus on childhood and adolescence (underrepresentation/ social conditioning) as a high % of employees do have young children. We've also had a lot of employee interest in a couple of NGO projects our foundation has recently supported in girls' education and health, so it seems a good idea to leverage that.

The theme of IWD 2017 is "Be Bold for Change" so senior management will make pledges about specific things they will do to encourage female inclusion (so kind of "he for she", but not as we dont want to have too much mixed messaging).

Truckingalong Fri 10-Feb-17 10:53:50

I think the Harry Enfield clip is ok for school kids (coupled with a good teacher facilitating a discussion) but I think the tone is wrong for business and the message is basic and weak and not thought-provoking enough.

VestalVirgin Fri 10-Feb-17 13:27:15

Is IWD a diversity initiative? I'm not sure.

Well, women are half the world's population, so women being in a workplace doesn't really make it diverse, just, you know, normal, but International Women's Day IS for drawing attention to the fact that women are oppressed by men, yes. What else would it be for?

I noticed that men have taken to congratulating women on women's day and bringing flowers and shit, but that's not what it is for; it is not like mother's day.

It is supposed to be political. Supposed to.

VestalVirgin Fri 10-Feb-17 13:33:49

Whoops, I seem to have missed some posts. Sorry.

Current thoughts are to focus on childhood and adolescence (underrepresentation/ social conditioning) as a high % of employees do have young children. We've also had a lot of employee interest in a couple of NGO projects our foundation has recently supported in girls' education and health, so it seems a good idea to leverage that.

Good idea.

I would intuitively think that a workplace event should be about working against the oppression of women in that workplace, but people never like criticism / attention being drawn to the things they are doing wrong, so focusing on the things they could do right in the future / how they could help fund an NOG, is a wiser approach.

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