In the year of high profile women's movement campaigns such as #MeToo and Time's Up, gender equality has certainly been on the centre stage in the mainstream media. InterLaw Diversity Forum spoke to several women lawyers and allies to find out whether these campaigns are making a real impact in the workplace. In the third blog in our series, we speak to Anita Shaw, European Patent Attorney & Chartered UK Patent Attorney at IBM and Co-Founder of the Intellectual Property BAME network, IP & ME.
Do you think high profile gender equality campaigns such as #MeToo and Time's Up will help progress gender equality conversations in the workplace? AS: I think that recent events have given much needed focus to macro issues as well to the plight of individuals. It’s hard to say what the long term ramifications of the campaigns will be, but for starters, it would be great to at least get the conversation going, however difficult that conversation may be. Progress is more likely to be made by collaboratively and inclusively involving representatives from across the board as I believe that the concept of allies is truly powerful - we need to be able to proactively empathise with, support and listen to each other through these tough discussions.
What can gender equality allies do to help advance women in the workplace? AS: Personally, I think that the concept of allies is a game-changer – proactive supporters who, *regardless* of gender, reach out to lend different perspectives; aren’t afraid to challenge by having frank and transparent discussions and are willing to take the time to lend practical advice and sponsorship to help women step up.
Having trained in science, tech and then Intellectual Property Law, the majority of my colleagues have always been male. I’ve had wholly positive experiences and I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without the support of male friends, colleagues and mentors -- I believe that the concepts around bold campaigns such as #MentorHer and #HeforShe would make a tangible, practical difference to women looking to advance their careers.
What are you doing to celebrate International Women's Day?
AS: IWD falls around the same time as Mother’s Day in the UK and so this week, I attended a tea party hosted by my five year old son’s school – we ate cake and sandwiches and the children gave us flowers, cards, presents and recited a poem – I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate IWD than with my smallest, but biggest ally!!!
** Views expressed are Anita's own **
Keep up with Anita's BAME IP network, IP & ME HERE