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International Women's Day 2024

What is International Women's Day?
International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated every year on 8 March, salutes the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. This year’s IWD theme is #InspireInclusion, encouraging us all to seek out the inclusion of women and girls, particularly where women may have lacked representation in the past.

Across the world, communities, organisations and governments come together in campaigning for equity, diversity and inclusion. In some countries, it’s even an official holiday, which aims to raise awareness about women’s equality. It encourages everyone, everywhere to take collective action to accelerate gender equality.

Why is International Women's Day Important?
Most will have heard about the bravery of women involved in the early 20th century suffragette movement, but it’s crucial we remember and celebrate those that put their lives on the line for the good of our future society.

It all started back in 1911, when more than one million women and men joined forces across Europe to campaign for women’s rights to train, work, vote, hold public office and end discrimination, impelled by inequality in the early 1900s. Women were becoming vocal and active in campaigning for change. Their determination has paved the way for other women’s rights activities in the UK and globally.

While huge progress has been made since IWD came to be, historic gender stereotypes have had a detrimental impact on diversity within the workforce, segregating women and men into different occupations. The engineering profession has been viewed as a male-dominated, female-subsided field. What’s more, the unfortunate reality is that women are still not paid equally and not equally represented in business or politics.

Recent data* shows that women represent almost half of the UK’s workforce, but they account for just 26% of all workers in the manufacturing sector. Not only that, but women working in the manufacturing sector earn 17% less than their male peers.

What are we doing to celebrate International Women's Day at OAS?
This year’s IWD theme is #InspireInclusion. We’ll be marking IWD at OAS by showcasing women engineering role models, celebrating their achievements and raising awareness. We’ll also be sharing information about women’s health and wellbeing, and signposting support and useful resources to make sure everyone knows how to access help when they need it.

Not only that, but we’re delighted to welcome MTC’s Caitlin McCall, a Senior Research Engineer in the Automation, Mechatronics & Electronics manufacturing team to talk to our apprentices about all thing’s women in engineering. Alongside her role at MTC, Caitlin is on the Directors’ Committees at the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) which was set up to empower women to fulfil their potential in the sector and fight for greater inclusivity.

Caitlin’s looking to inspire the new engineers by talking them through:
• The historic challenges in the sector and how advocates have paved the way for the new workforce
• The challenges she has encountered as a woman in the industry and how she’s managed them
• The opportunities that await new entrants in the workforce
• The role of WES in helping businesses to attract and retain talent, as well as enabling individuals to achieve their career goals.

To join the celebration and get involved in IWD, visit the International Women’s Day website where you can access toolkits, resources and guidance to help raise awareness in your business and to your networks!

* Empowering women in manufacturing: Unlocking the potential of gender-inclusive digitalisation - Cambridge Industrial Innovation Policy