Breaking the bias: Life as an all-women team
Updated: Jun 15, 2022
At WRENmedia, I am proud to be Director of an all-women team so it seems appropriate to celebrate this achievement on International Women’s Day 2022. Individually, collectively – I am proud of the energy and enthusiasm we as women deliver to our portfolio of clients in the range of services we provide.
I have not consciously set out to have a women-only team – the most important aspect of any team, whatever the gender composition, is for each person to have the right skills for the job at that particular time. However, the makeup within WRENmedia has always hosted a greater number of women than men – often leaving the male team members rather outnumbered! The lack of intentionality behind this fact, though, reflects the value that women have consistently provided both to our team, and to our clients. On reflection, providing these opportunities and being able to serve as a role model to other women (as well as young men) has been an important element of my working life.
Working women, working mothers
Communications is perhaps not seen as a male-dominated sector – after all, women can communicate very well! But, looking back, when I started over 25 years ago, it was quite different… many of our clients were men and there were definitely times that my gender and age meant I certainly felt I had something extra to prove. Now, it is not something I ever think about – confidence comes with age and greater experience – and that is definitely a bonus. The fact that my sons are now young adults also means I no longer have to consider how my work life would be different if I was not a woman, as balancing family life is less of a challenge than in years past.
However, this is not so for some of my team who have very young families and have had to endure the challenge of home schooling, childcare and the temporary loss of support networks during the COVID pandemic. Even today with greater childcare options, it is hard to be a working mum… and that’s without the additional strain of juggling work with the pressures of managing your children’s schoolwork! It’s certainly been an interesting two years for us all, and workplaces have had to adapt and, for the most part, be more flexible.
WRENmedia has done its utmost to be supportive, even prior to COVID. Not to say this is always easy or straightforward; as a small business, providing cover and being flexible can be challenging and requires other team members to step in and take the strain. However, I believe as an all-women team, we are uniquely able to fully appreciate the challenges that motherhood and working life can bring. We recognise that, however much as a business we need to keep going, need to meet the deadlines and deliver to the same high standards, there are times when family absolutely must be the priority.
Behind the scenes
One of the positives from COVID has not only been the ability to function well as a team despite home-working, but that clients – whether men or women – were also home-based and often juggling families and schooling children. Moments of cats walking in front of laptops, dogs barking at delivery drivers or children bursting through the green screen have all made us more ‘human’ and, I believe, more understanding of the juggling act we are all doing behind the scenes. Interestingly, it was more evident than ever before that many of the men we work with were managing the same demands as their female counterparts – acting as equal partners in raising their children and taking their turns as English or Maths teachers. So, in these cases, COVID has perhaps helped to lessen some of the gender bias that still exists of men as less involved parents – or at least the perception of it – and that can only be a good thing.
Recognising role models
Nevertheless, I have the utmost respect and admiration for women that have earned degrees, progressed their careers, and built businesses, all while bringing up a family, and who now provide an inspiring role model for others. Take Eveline Compaoré, for example, one of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development, researchers and storytellers at the virtual event we supported in December 2021. One of 10 siblings growing up on a small farm in rural Burkina Faso, she was so inspired by her mother’s hard work and determination that she chose to pursue a career that allows her to help other small-scale farmers overcome their own challenges.
Eveline ended the event with a poignant message for young women researchers in the audience. “A shout out to young women wanting to get into higher education – I did it despite my background. We can do it and we are the ones who must make the change – others cannot do it for us.” She asserted that, whilst balancing family demands with a competitive career in science is hard, it is not impossible – as she herself has proven!
On International Women’s Day 2022, it cannot be said better than that. We must all play our part in breaking the bias and enabling young women and men to achieve their potential for a more equitable future.