What is International Women’s Day?

Happy International Women’s Day 2021!

Each year on March 8th, the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women globally are celebrated. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.

This theme of the day this year is ‘Choose to Challenge‘ which means that from challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge the gender bias and inequality we see in the world. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. That is why every day this week we will be highlighting a valued and inspirational woman who is part of the Contra Vision team.

Meet Dee Barrington-Ford

Q. Can you tell me a bit about your career history before you began working for Contra Vision?

A. My first job was as a PA to the Sales Director of Simon Engineering in Stockport where I developed my organisational skills and my understanding of the workings of business. Moving to the USA, I was involved in the male dominated world of motor racing team management. Upon my return to the UK, I joined Astra Zeneca working alongside the medical team in the administration of drug trials. So, quite a varied work experience on both sides of the Atlantic.

Q. How long have you worked for and what is your role at Contra Vision?

A. I have worked for Contra Vision since 1989 and I am currently Director of Corporate Affairs

Q. Have you ever felt held back in your career or you have not been given certain opportunities because of your gender?

A. Personally, I have never felt held back in my career but I think that I have been very fortunate to work with people who encouraged and took pride in my career. I know that others have very different experiences. My dissertation at university focused on “Gender, Power and the Workplace” and I interviewed several women who faced institutionalised discrimination and deliberate strategies to undermine and isolate them within the workplace.

Q. What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and in work?

A. I believe that great progress has been made in the developed world to facilitate women’s careers at work. Acknowledging that many women have to balance family and work, I remember that when my daughter was young, there were few childcare facilities, no wrap-round school care, no holiday clubs so it was very difficult and extremely stressful balancing the needs of the family and the workplace. It has helped that there are now laws protecting equality of pay and opportunity for women but many female-dominated workplaces, e.g. care and hospitality remain very low paid. We still need to see more women finding their way to being main board directors but, at the other end of the lens, we have to support those women in parts of the world with few rights or freedom to fulfil their potential.

Q. Why do we need women in leadership positions?

A. Women bring a different dynamic to the leadership table. Generally, we have a more collaborative approach, less confrontational without the need to “score points”, a talent for problem-solving but with the stamina to get the job done. Of course, it would be good to have more high profile, aspirational role models for young women in the workplace.

Q. How do you feel men in your life and in workplaces can contribute more to women’s empowerment?

A. Whether you are a man or a woman, it is difficult to be successful in your career without the support of those at work and at home. However, I don’t think the empowerment of women is just in the hands of men, I think that there are many contributory factors, e.g. parental support, the opportunity for high quality education, affordable childcare provision, a fair living wage, respectful representation in the media and support for families in crisis. Women have to believe in themselves and it is difficult to do that if you don’t believe that the society in which you live believes in you.

Q. Do you have any words of wisdom for women at the start of their careers?

A. Work hard, be confident, listen well, never stop learning, take time for yourself but always make time for others.

Dee International Women's Day 2021