The first International Women's Day was celebrated on 19 March 1911 and is now marked every year on 8 March. This year's campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world. Today gender equality and discrimination are to the fore, but a celebration of women's achievements is also apt. It was Gloria Steinem who wrote: "A feminist is anyone who recognises the equality and full humanity of women and men."
As a female who has worked in the worlds of industry and academia there is much to be celebrated alongside much to ponder. My passion is that that education, skills development and career paths are open and accessible to all.
Supporting gender balance is embedded in all of Interface’s activities supporting knowledge sharing between businesses and academia. Our focus mirrors that of the Scottish Government’s themes of equality, social inclusion and environmental sustainability and the Scottish Funding Council Gender Action Plan, which helps to remove gender stereotyping of roles through education.
We support women in our everyday work, taking the time to understand their businesses and the challenges they are facing. We help match them with the right academic expertise in Scotland's universities and research institutions and by forging these partnerships, we help their businesses to grow and develop. However, funding trends into female-founded companies found that women entrepreneurs secured just 16% of UK equity deals in 2018, so much more needs to be done.
We also support academics, from early-stage researchers to seasoned professors, by bringing them challenging propositions from industry which helps develop their careers and allow them to apply research in real-world situations.
The collaborations we forge have wider impacts too, supporting economic growth throughout Scotland including economically fragile regions, and making a positive impact on society by developing innovative products, services and processes across all industry sectors.
So today is a chance to recognise and celebrate inspiring women in all walks of life – from businesses and academia. The real role models that are forging ahead in the thirst for new knowledge to those running many different types and size of business, from home-based to global companies, turning ideas to invoices. The world may be changing at a rapid pace but women can lead the way to make a major contribution to our economy and we will continue to promote equality in all that we do. #BalanceforBetter
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