Let’s learn to celebrate difference

We continue our series ahead of International Women's Day, Monday March 8
Let’s learn to celebrate difference

Louise Foott - Head of Arts in Health & Education, MTU Crawford College of Art & Design

Louise Foott, Head of Arts in Health & Education, MTU

Crawford College of Art & Design

Growing up with six brothers was an excellent way to learn about gender bias. It also taught me how to hold my own when it really mattered, but more importantly how unique we all are, regardless of gender, and how these differences enrich our lives.

My work brings me into contact with women and men training to be art teachers, art therapists, artists working in health and community settings, and individuals working in social care who want to learn how the arts can make a difference.

What matters is not how male or female these individuals are, but how we can learn together from all our life experiences, and what we do with that knowledge to make this world a better place. Let’s celebrate difference. Let’s value all our unique perspectives and contributions.

From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.

Alicia Joy O’ Sullivan
Alicia Joy O’ Sullivan

Youth Activist, Alicia Joy O’Sullivan

On this International Women’s Day we find ourselves in a world more divided than previous years but more connected than ever.

If Covid has taught us anything, it is that the world is not as equal or fair as we like to think it is, particularly for women and girls.

All of us can choose to challenge ourselves to be more conscious and aware in our everyday lives and that we must work together to ensure gender bias and inequality is rid from our world.

Úna Feely, co-founder of IndieCork Festival

The world is already a challenge for many people, without having to look too far from their own lives, sometimes even their own homes. I really admire those who spend time and effort on challenging inequality, either through their own individual actions, or public campaigning. It takes a lot of personal courage, and I’ve been lucky enough to see that in many people I know. Whether the inequality being challenged is a result of gender, race, class or poverty or any other circumstance — choosing to challenge that inequality means changing things for the better.

On International Women’s Day, it’s good to acknowledge the powerful role women play in the grand human plan for a fair, equitable and kind world.

Norma Welch, Chair, MTU International Women’s Day Committee 2021, Faculty of Engineering & Science Administrator, MTU.
Norma Welch, Chair, MTU International Women’s Day Committee 2021, Faculty of Engineering & Science Administrator, MTU.

Norma Welch, Chair, MTU International Women’s Day Committee 2021, Faculty of Engineering & Science Administrator, MTU.

This year at MTU, not only are we celebrating our first International Women’s Day as a new university, we are also delighted to welcome our first female president, Professor Maggie Cusack.

MTU Empowering Women 2021 is taking place virtually on Monday, March 8, in celebration of International Women’s Day and as part of MTU’s Innovation and Enterprise month.

I believe that now, more than ever, it is important to send a strong message of support, solidarity and encouragement to our MTU community at home and abroad during these challenging times.

The international theme for Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose to Challenge — gender bias and inequality. I am delighted with this theme as a core value of our new MTU Charter is to support, encourage and nurture inclusivity, diversity, and equality among the MTU community.

We look forward to welcoming international speakers from the MTU alumni network to MTU Empowering Women 2021, including, Sylvia Fouhy,VP Global Deliver, Medical Devices at Johnson &Johnson Health Care Systems, New Jersey and Deirdre O’Connor, MD at Blackrock INC, a multinational investment management corporation. All welcome to attend. Register at https://mtuempoweringwomen.ie/

Sharon Scanlan, an Associate Director in Business Consulting with Grant Thornton, based in Cork office
Sharon Scanlan, an Associate Director in Business Consulting with Grant Thornton, based in Cork office

Sharon Scanlan, an Associate Director in Business Consulting with Grant Thornton, based in Cork office

I choose to champion the cause of gender diversity and create an inclusive business environment.

Diversity in every sense is good for business, I believe diverse leadership teams provide the basis for high performing teams.

I am extremely proud that Grant Thornton as a firm promotes a culture that nurtures diversity and that focuses on retaining and attracting top female talent.

As a female within this organisation, I am continuously encouraged to grow and to reach my optimal potential. I choose to harness this approach and choose to support the growth of all my colleagues #choosetochallenge

Sarah Collins, Marketing Manager, Ballymaloe Foods
Sarah Collins, Marketing Manager, Ballymaloe Foods

Sarah Collins, Marketing Manager, Ballymaloe Foods

For me, the idea of #Choosetochallenge is so important. We don’t just have to accept the status quo of the world because it has been that way for a long time.

I feel that things are changing at a faster pace than ever before, but we still have so far to go until we can see true equality.

I am proud to work in a company that has been led by women since it started but I would love to see this being more the norm and not the exception.

The most important thing in my opinion is that we make it as level a playing field as possible and those who work hard will be rewarded.

I alone can’t make a huge difference, but when we all pull together, that is when we will see change happening.

Musician Sarah Ryan
Musician Sarah Ryan

Sara Ryan, musician

I choose to challenge how the voices of female and non binary artists are not being heard in Ireland. We live on a beautifully creative island. Each and every artist of every gender deserves to have their voice heard, their music heard and their message heard.

There is an imbalance with this, and I believe that it can change.

The Gender Disparity Data report was a report announced in June, 2020, covering the Top 20 most played songs by Irish artists on Irish radio. This brought to light that, there is a significant imbalance between the playing of music of male artists and female identifying Irish artists on Irish radio.

Since this report has been announced, there has been an increase in the amount of airplay that female identifying Irish artists have received on Irish radio, which is amazing!

I believe that creativity of all forms deserves to be celebrated.

 Ingrid Seim, Avenues Consultancy and Coaching.
 Ingrid Seim, Avenues Consultancy and Coaching.

Ingrid Seim, Avenues Consultancy and Coaching.

This International Women’s Day, let’s choose to challenge the expectations, spoken and unspoken, that are put on us by ourselves and by others.

We are not supposed to do it all. We are not supposed to be the solution put in place to cover for society’s inequalities. We are not supposed to struggle with guilt, overwhelm, feeling that we are never enough. We are not supposed to keep juggling everything, not able to stop because something might drop.

We are supposed to support and be supported, to figure out what we want our lives to look like and live them accordingly. Let’s choose to challenge one-dimensional and outdated stereotypes, societal structures and the official decision-making that create unnecessary obstacles, and move forward in a world that allows everyone to thrive.

Kelley Lonergan.
Kelley Lonergan.

Kelley Lonergan, soprano

After giving birth to my beautiful girl last summer, something transformational happened, I realised my own strength! It was such an empowering experience, where I was given the freedom to follow my instincts, to listen to my body and its innate knowledge and power and “allowed” to birth my baby girl.

My midwives also trusted the process and were there to jump in when I needed extra help at the end to turn the baby’s head that had been flexed (looking up instead of down). I was so grateful to them to for their expertise and respect, but realised that not every woman is helped to have this empowering experience.

Some hospitals have outdated. non-evidence based policies that are not woman-centred. This made me realise that change is needed, I want to challenge the Status quo, the patriarchal system that we’ve inherited, especially in maternity hospitals.

Birth is political, birthing is something that affects woman on every level of their being, physical, mental and spiritual. It is truly transformational.

Maternity hospitals need a spiritual warrior to point out to the policy-makers what can be achieved when woman are truly seen and supported on every level.

Carole O’Leary - Regional Programme Manager for 3rd Level Student Entrepreneurship at MTU
Carole O’Leary - Regional Programme Manager for 3rd Level Student Entrepreneurship at MTU

Carole O’Leary, Regional Student Entrepreneurship Manager

In the world of new business start-ups, men are twice more likely to start a business over women.

In the UK, women’s businesses have a higher churn rate (ie. more start-ups and closures) but women are less likely to attribute closure to ‘business failure’ and more likely to cite ‘personal reasons’, and flexibility around family care is the #1 reason to start a business for women with children.

Although the research shows that female led start-ups secure far lower levels of equity investment, they achieve on average 20% more return on investments.

Women who undergo some form of enterprise training are twice as likely to be engaged in entrepreneurial activity.

So, for those women that have an idea, there are supports available to help them make that first step.

In a world where you can choose to be anything, choose to be brave and take the first step in following your dreams to be your own boss.

See https://www.rubiconcentre.ie/programmes/exxcel-female-entrepreneurship/

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