Pink or Blue, a perspective on IWD18

Today, on International Womens Day (#IWD18), we remind you of our newly enhanced interactive “Diversity in Tech “programme, which kicks off on 26 March with the amazing Cathriona Hallahan, MD of Microsoft. The programme is aimed at men and women committed to diversity and inclusion.

Speaking about the theme of #IWD18, it@cork Chairperson, Caroline O’ Driscoll commented

“The very interesting theme of IWD is #PressForProgress. This serves as a timely reminder that while much has been achieved in the area of gender equality, we have much more to do. Women remain under- represented at leadership level (less than 20% of board seats are occupied by Women) and less than 25% of our STEM workforce are women (at all levels).  At the current pace of change, the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report predicts that it will take 217 years before the economic gender gap will be closed globally. Imagine that. At the current pace of change,  you or I won’t witness economic gender parity in our lifetimes. Neither will our daughters. If we are lucky, our great grand-daughters might. You know what, that’s just not good enough anymore. It’s time for real change, and we need to press ahead with a bit more urgency now hence the theme of IWD18. The World Economic Forum predicts that 5 million jobs will be lost in the top 15 major developed and emerging economies by 2020 and they further predict that those job losses will fall disproportionately on women. Why? Because women are not talking up the careers of tomorrow in sufficient numbers (particularly in STEM). Is this what we want for 50% of our society? The gender gap gets wider and wider, the vicious circle is perpetuated.

Press for Progress also reminds us of the power each of us has to do our bit, no matter how small – it is easy to sit back and think that it is someone else’s issue. It’s easy to think what can I do?. But the #MeToo campaign reminds us all of the power of people to do something, to say something, to be heard, to be an advocate and catalyst for change. The power is within each one of us. Our responsibility to future generations is to work together, men and women, to create a more diverse and inclusive society. In our homes, in our schools and in our workplaces. If we don’t change, do we just end up sending our daughters to work in companies with inherent cultures designed for their Dads? Should we create something different, something more inclusive?

But it’s not about grand gestures, words on a keyboard or talking shops. It’s about action. I meet many companies who have adopted diversity and inclusion programmes ; many of whom are putting ideas into actions and who are trying to do something, who rock up and support initiatives like our very own, home grown, “I Wish” , who admit that while things are not rosy, some actions are identified. And I absolutely applaud them: at least they are trying to do something.

But this is not a woman’s issue.  The quest for gender equality is not the sole remit of women. It does not belong to any one person or entity. This is a whole of society issue. Men should not be forgotten – they have a view, a perspective to offer which is just as valuable. This issue, this quest, belongs to all of us. That is why we are encouraging men and women to attend our enhanced it@cork Diversity in Tech series.  This is not about pink or blue, it’s about pink and blue…….and yellow and purple and red and all the colours of the rainbow.

So what action are you going to take? Let’s press for progress, together.