How fortunate we are to be celebrating International Women’s Day today. To all my female colleagues, in UTS, in McMaster IT and across McMaster, I share my appreciation and gratitude for your many contributions to our community and institution, and more importantly, for what each of you do each day to support your own communities, your family and your friends.
During this turbulent time, it may seem frivolous to focus on any kind of celebration with so many challenges facing us. Conversely, what better time is there to celebrate than when we face challenges? What better way to share hope, to lift each other up, to remember that we can endure and always overcome!? International Women’s Day is a global celebration, and there is so much to celebrate, as Women’s History Month shows us.
I am sure it is no coincidence that the theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) in 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. What we choose to challenge is up to each one of us — and there are many opportunities in the IWD website to spur your thinking towards what you can do to mark this day. Let’s challenge inequality, challenge exclusiveness, challenge society to focus on physical and mental health and well-being, and challenge each other to not settle, give in or give up. And let’s challenge our ability to deal with global issues like this pandemic, with full hearts and strong intention. We are all in this together, indeed.
Two years ago I wrote a long blog on IWD about the impact that women have had on my life and my career. Over the last two years, I have become more intentional on how I can make a positive impact and support women on their own career journey. One of my very great honours this year was highlighting the amazing Women in Tech Changemakers in our year long series. You can see our McMaster IT International Women’s Day post and watch the video from our IT Forum panel to learn more about a small subset of these amazing women. The story you will hear that unifies our Changemakers is that they challenged themselves and the status quo, to use technology or to expose the potential of technology, for its value and benefit to society. It is inspiring and humbling and is a reminder that when we challenge ourselves, the rewards have a rippling effect on so many. There are many ways we can all support women in technology and innovation careers — and I know many of you men and women are doing this in your own communities, so thank you for that!
On this IWD 2021, in the midst of a pandemic, my challenge to all of us, regardless of gender, is to hold tightly to our freedom and ability to #ChooseToChallenge. Choice is a gift, and here in our part of the world, the gift of choice means we can freely choose to be grateful and kind to each other and to stand together with all genders to celebrate our success and achievements. Let’s not waste this opportunity.