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#ThrowBack: Celebrating the International Women’s Day at OUP
19 March 2021
This year OUP celebrated International Women’s Day over the course of a whole week, with a full agenda of digital events, blog posts, and virtual gatherings amongst colleagues. We incorporated the 2021 theme #ChooseToChallenge in all activities, as well as adopting our own slogan for the week: Celebrate, challenge, and champion
First, we announced an exciting new partnership between OUP and Women On Boards: NexGenDirectors (WOB), an organization dedicated to addressing gender inequality in the boardroom and across leadership roles. Membership with WOB, which is now available to all OUP employees, supports career development through resources such as online CV-building courses, interview support, and access to WOB’s resource centre.
In addition to this, we organised ‘Career Conversations – Our OUP Women in Digital’, where women working in senior leadership roles relating to digital and technology discussed their career journeys and the challenges, support, and successes they experienced along the way. And OUP’s Women’s Network, which facilitates and supports the development and career progression of women across OUP, organized a ‘Big Meet-up.’ Colleagues across the world virtually gathered to exchange their ideas on what gender equality means in day-to-day life and within their roles at OUP. Employees were further given the opportunity to take part in events hosted by our external partners, such as the Gender Balance Summit 2021, hosted by Moving Ahead and Stonewall.
Many of our regional offices also got involved in the celebrations. In Pakistan, the day was celebrated by staff discussing what it meant to work at OUP as a woman, and nominating women across history who most inspired them. Meanwhile, colleagues in Spain created a Women’s History Milestones timeline, reflecting the progress and achievements of the women’s rights movement in Spain.
For those outside of OUP, we hosted a panel discussion titled ‘Bitch’, ‘bint’, and ‘maid’: exploring sexist language in the dictionary,’ bringing together language experts to discuss sexist language and the trends this points to in wider society. The event, which was attended by around 600 people, followed on from previous criticism against sentences and synonyms used in dictionary content relating to the word ‘woman’. The panellists discussed the purpose of the dictionary, and why removing or editing such terms would be ‘akin to censorship.’
Our colleagues in India formed a partnership with Literary India and dedicated an Education and Skills Development Center to women in Noida. The center aims to make women financially independent by upskilling them through a range of courses, whilst offering remedial education to children who missed out on schooling over the past year due to a lack access to digital learning resources, with a focus on education for girls. To mark International Women’s Day, the first group of women to have benefitted from the centre were awarded their certificates for completing a course in stitching and tailoring.
Throughout the week, colleagues took to LinkedIn to share their own experiences and what International Women’s Day meant to them through a series of reflective blogs:
- ‘Aatmanirbharta from the social lens’ – Dr Parul Pandy, Director of HR Business Partnering
- ‘My great grandmother, Kitty, was imprisoned fighting for equality but am I doing enough to respect this sacrifice?’ – Lisa Attenborough, Group Communications Director
- ‘Why aren't more men taking Shared Parental Leave?’- Adam Pulford, Senior Insight Manager
- Why we must ‘tackle the education gap for girls’ – Fathima Dada, MD Education
- Building more diverse teams in Technology & Operations is the secret to business success – Tim Fulton, CTO
Finally, many of our leaders shared the steps they were taking, both personally and through their professional roles, to empower women to make their mark, achieve their personal aspirations, and celebrate their achievements.
At OUP, we are committed to having a diverse and inclusive culture where we champion our colleagues, every day of the year. Read more on our values and how we aim to empower our people.