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International Women’s Day 2018

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day dedicated to commending the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The IWD 2018 campaign theme is #PressForProgress, a call to motivate all groups to accelerate gender parity.

On this day, Durham University Business School will celebrate the enthusiasm and uniting of our colleagues, students and alumni to think, act and be gender inclusive.

Professor Susan Hart, Dean of Durham University Business School said:

“Since I was a teenager (a wee while ago), I’ve seen feminism’s acceptability grow and diminish through cycles. Equal rights, equal pay and equal dignity have had to be fought for, and we’re not done yet, as #MeToo has shown.

Often castigated as the loony-fringe, I’d like to stand up for feminism this International Women’s Day, and, quoting from the civil rights activist, Rosa Parks, remember, ‘Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.’”

Press for Responsibility and Leadership:

Supporting women to achieve their goals and become leaders in their chosen field of study and profession is matter of course here at the Business School. We have impressive women faculty, students and alumni, who have made extraordinary marks on their educational and professional paths, demonstrating the importance of strengthening equal leadership.

Professor Susanne Braun, Leadership, at Durham University Business School said:

“As researchers and educators we shape the future of work. I find this a great opportunity and responsibility – to help excellent women and men achieve their full leadership potential.”

Tara Case, Chief Executive, Ways to Wellness and DUBS alumna said:

“International Women's Day is a good time to reflect on where we are with gender equality. Until girls and women have the same chances and real choices as boys and men, we cannot stop pushing for progress. Nonetheless, the recent centenary of the first British women's right to vote reminds us of how far we've come in a relatively short time. This day reminds us to also look internationally - there are things we can learn from other countries who have reduced barriers for women and at the same time we need to consider how we can help others who are facing much higher barriers.”

Helena Brennan, PhD Student in Economics at Durham University Business School said:

“As an economics PhD student, International Women’s Day is a reminder that women should be represented in all areas of study and academia. It reinforces the importance of equality, and for me personally that we are able to achieve whatever we set our minds to, to break the norm of what is expected of women.”

Press for Inclusive Workplaces:

Changing the rhetoric and perceptions around women is another fundamental component of reaching a more equal and inclusive workplace.

Professor Mark Learmonth, Organisation Studies, at Durham University Business School said:

“In a paper written with Martyn Griffin and Nancy Harding, we show how Disney’s female characters have shaped the perceptions of generations of women and young girls who have been brought up among these powerful cultural and social messages. Over time the representation of women within their animations has reflected changing perceptions in society - but also its flaws.

Since 1937, images have evolved from a housemaid to seven dwarfs, Snow White, to Elsa, the leading character in Frozen, who by 2013 was managing a whole country. Once upon a time the princess met her prince and rode off into the sunset… Women don’t need their prince any longer and can ride wherever they want by their own means.

Disney teaches us that much with its recent movies. But it also highlights how women continue the fight for true gender equality which is far from won. Looks and gender norms still heavily impact female careers and securing senior and valued roles within organisations is far from secure.”

Press for More Inclusive Business Education:

According to the Financial Times, despite the growing interest in business education, women are still a minority on prestigious business school courses. The new Financial Times Top 50 MBA programmes for women ranking reveals the top MBAs for women, and we are pleased to announce Durham University Business School is ranked 35th out of 50.

Thomas Whitaker, Marketing Analyst at Durham University Business School said:

“This new ranking demonstrates the importance of business education for women and which institutions are really making a difference. Durham University Business School is ranked 3rd in the UK and 35th globally. The School is also ranked 1st globally for ‘Value for Money’ – an important indicator for return on investment for our students.”

Susan Boyd, Programme Director (Online MBA) at Durham University Business School said:

“It is important that we all have the opportunity to fulfil our potential no matter what our gender, colour or creed and that we are judged on our talent above all else.”

Press for Courage and Inspiration:

No matter how small or large your efforts, everyone can play a significant part in pressing for gender parity. It takes courage to step up and share the responsibility and act, and by raising awareness, we can each play a meaningful role in the creation of an inclusive culture.

Joanne Smith, Chief Executive FACT and DUBS alumna said:

“A good example that we can set as women, is to always treat others in the way that you would like others to treat you.

Dr Julie Hodges, Associate Dean for MBA Programmes at Durham University Business School said:

“International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the work that courageous and inspiring women around the globe are doing to improve women’s rights and fight against inequality. It is a day to add our voices to the debates about how to make positive changes for women.”

Press for Equality of Opportunity:

While it is important to come together and encourage the world around us to recognise these inequalities, we must also celebrate the achievements of those who have overcome these barriers.

Wendy Pearson, MBA Career Consultant at Durham University Business School said:

“I work with students of all genders who are inspiring and exceptional. It would be great to think that they have the same chances to meet their career goals, but they will face different conditions in their countries and companies that mean some may not be able to reach their true potential. International Women’s Day is a moment to highlight the continuing need to work together to create equality of opportunity.”

Victoria Smallwood, Global IoT Partner Manager, Vodafone and DUBS alumna said:

“I am grateful to the women of the past, and proud to be shaping the future for women in technology, today.’’


The IWD 2018 campaign provides a unified direction to guide our collective work, but it should not end here.

Professor Christos Tsinopoulos, Director of Masters in Management Programmes at Durham University Business School said:

“The International Women’s Day is a day that should not exist. Women should not need to have special days to make us think about where they need to be in our society. But, we are not there yet. With this in mind it is great to have a day which makes all think about where we were, where we are and where we need to be to live in a society where everyone feels equal.”

Dr Joanna Berry, Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship at Durham University Business School said:

“International Women’s Day shouldn’t have to happen. But I am very pleased it does. It provides a focal point in the year, an opportunity to celebrate how far women have come in their personal and professional lives. It also offers a chance for reflection. Reflection on two things: on how far women have to go until they have true equality of pay, respect, and opportunity … and on our personal ambition and self-esteem.

For some women, it’s a ‘sticky floor’ not a ’glass ceiling’ and self-belief is critical. Any inspiration, both to do more, and to be more, that can come from this day of stories of success and failure, obstacles overcome and aspirations realised, has got to be good. Good for women internationally, good for our academic body researching in this area to further inform practice, good for our global student body and especially good for the increasingly diverse workplaces of their futures.”

You can find out more information about International Women’s Day here.