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Be bold for change

International Womens Day gathering of Parliament
Female Members of Parliament gather in the House of Commons to mark International Women's Day 2017. Image courtesy of UK Parliament/Mark Duffy

The theme of this year's International Women's Day was "be bold for change". A good mantra for everyone, men and women. As I went to a Parliamentary reception to mark the event, I thought of that other quote, "Be the change you want to see".

We heard from three MPs at the reception - Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, Jess Phillips and Jo Churchill - each of them doing this in their own way. They highlighted how problems run deep in institutions, not in people.


Sulaiman Ahmed from PDS talked about his experiences and reminded us that gender equality is not just a women's issue. It's something that everyone should care about and strive for. Sulaiman is also co-chair of Parliagender, one of Parliament's workplace equality networks. Its aim is to challenge discrimination and promote gender equality.

Parliagender also launched on Twitter that day, so follow them @Parliagender and see what they're up to. And if you work in Parliament, please consider joining.

First ever Women in Digital event

A couple of weeks ago, PDS hosted Parliament's first ever Women in Digital event. 150 guests from across the sector heard from a range of speakers and participated in a lively Q&A session. At the event, we discussed the fact that only one quarter (26%) of those working in digital are female. Experts predict that gender parity won't happen until 2094, which is not in my lifetime.

Currently, PDS is 34% women. So why does gender inequality in tech matter? Unconscious bias can have a huge, long term effect. We recently published a guest post on breaking the 'bro code' which talks about the effect of unconscious bias.

Things can seem daunting when people quote dates long into the future when "this will all be sorted out". But we can all make a difference now, even in small ways. See the thoughts of those who attended our event at #PDSWomen.

Not recruiting in our own image

In PDS, we've been on a recruitment drive and we've been mindful of the way we recruit. We've tried different things and had some help from an organisation called Equal Approach. They opened our eyes to some unconscious bias in our methods and language. It's important to be open to challenges, and to listen and adapt. If you don't, there's a danger you'll only recruit in your own image. My colleague Julie Byrne has written a great post on what we've been doing.

By challenging discrimination and pushing for gender equality, I'm also reminded of the power of human stories. We need events like International Women's Day and our Women in Digital one. We need to make sure our voices are heard and we aren't going to be bystanders. At PDS, we will #beboldforchange.

Take a look at #WomenInParliament for other Parliamentary events that took place on International Women's Day.

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