International Woman’s Day (IWD) has become an international celebration every year on March 8. This global commemorative day celebrates women’s social and political achievements while calling for greater equality.
The History of International Woman’s Day
IWD’s roots date back to 1908 in New York. It was on this day that the Socialist Party of America organised a Woman’s Day. They marched through the city, demanding better pay, shorter working hours and voting rights.
The first National Woman’s Day celebration was in the US on February 28 1909. Then in 1913, the USA pledged to celebrate the day every March 8.
Then in 1975 the United Nations marked International Woman’s Day as a global acknowledgement of women’s rights.
Over the decades, women’s rights and gender equality within the workforce have improved. Figures compiled by the Pew Research Centre show that women now make up 40% of the workforce in 80 countries.
Although, despite progress being made worldwide, there is still a long way to go concerning equality in the workforce.
Figures reveal that women at some of the UK’s biggest companies paying less than half of their male counterparts. The World Economic Forum forecasts the gender gap won’t fully close until 2186.
The race is on to bridge the gender equality gap in the workforce in the UK. Thus, government-backed targets to fill 33% of board positions in FTSE companies with women by 2020.
The Benefits of Bringing Gender Diversity to the Workforce
Organisations actively employing more women reap many rewards. Such benefits include giving business access to the best available talent, from lower-skilled levels to executive roles. There is also evidence that appointing women onto teams and boards can increase productivity, innovation and creativity.
Other rewards of bringing greater gender diversity to a workforce include the strengthening of team dynamics, optimising the decision-making process and creating a better working environment.
Organisations are proactively recruiting women into a diverse range of roles and levels to present a modern, progressive ethos and attitude. Consequently, such companies are becoming sought-after to work for, thus attracting the best talent and retaining a happy, loyal workforce.
Contented staff are less likely to seek employment elsewhere, subsequently increasing retention and reducing staff turnover rates.
Overall, greater diversity within an organisation’s personnel creates effective teams, which ultimately leads to better business.
Inspirational Female Figures in Technology
Testament to the integral role women play in driving innovation and business success, is the part women have played within the world of tech.
One such figure is Frances Elizabeth “Betty” Holberton, creator of the first multipurpose computer.
During WWII, a team of American women earned the job title ‘Computer’. Their task was to manually calculate ballistics trajectories for the US Army. The project led to Holberton, and four other women create what was the world’s first multipurpose computer. This revolutionary machine was the first to make multiple calculations simultaneously.
The computer invention that had come before Holberton’s creation was a single functioning machine that broke Enigma.
Other truly inspirational female figures in tech are Katherine G Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. These three black women defied all odds in the twentieth century. They played an integral role in launching the first man into space to orbit Earth.
These ladies calculated the data required to launch NASA’s first successful space mission. Quite an achievement during a time when technology was not capable of making such complex calculations.
The achievements of women in leadership, business and industry over the decades, have been immense. It is therefore only right that on March 8, women worldwide will unite. International woman’s day recognises and celebrates the achievements of our unsung female heroes. Also, they will highlight inequalities still affecting women in work and call for the elimination of such disparities.
The savviest of companies are beginning to realise the multitude of benefits hiring women brings to a workforce. However, there is a long way to go in creating more gender-diverse teams.