16 Mar 2022

Wednesday 16 March 2022

International Women's Day was celebrated on Tuesday 8 March. This day is celebrated globally every year to commemorate the cultural, political and socio-economic achievements of women. We celebrated this at King’s with breakfasts in our Houses and a virtual discussion panel. We were lucky enough to hear from four inspiring women, including two Old Collegians, who shared their stories and advice with us about being leading women in male-dominated work environments.

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Ella Nesdale (far left) and her Taylor House housemates.

We discussed how New Zealand has led the way with women's rights. New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections. Our Prime Minister today, Jacinda Ardern, is the youngest woman to be leading the country and the first to have had a baby during this time. 

Some other successful females in our country include Kate Sheppard, who is recognised as the leader of the fight to win the right for New Zealand women to vote. Helen Clark, who in 1999 became New Zealand’s first elected female prime minister, Kate Edger who was the first female in New Zealand to gain a university qualification and the equal pay campaigner Kristine Bartlett who was named the 2018 New Zealander of the Year.

There were a number of milestones reached for women over the past year highlighting progress, particularly in leadership. 2022 began with eight countries having elected in their first female head of government or head of state. 

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The theme for International Women's Day this year is Break The Bias. Bias occurs in different forms. There is an unconscious bias where people may be biased and be unaware of it. Jen Jones shared her experience of unconscious bias with us on Tuesday morning as she explained that she was continuously asked if she was the property director’s personal assistant but in fact, she was the property director herself. Collectively we can all break this bias. 

Take risks and be the change that you want to see in the world because breaking the bias can create a chain effect. Kate Gatfield-Jefferies shared this message with us and also spoke about the idea that there will always be people pushing you down or who won’t believe in you, but, instead of reacting just prove to them that you are capable of doing what you set your mind to. 

Professor Cathey Stinear from the University of Auckland also shared with us simple ways that we can begin to Break The Bias. However, gaining an understanding of this bias first is a great start. Move away from the traditional roles which men and women are associated with. She said that when organising an assignment she will often get the female to research the technology and resources they will use, and get the male to do the administrative side of things. 

So do your part to break the bias. 

Celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.

Ella Nesdale
Head Girl