Celebrating the pioneers of change

With Incite turning 20 this week and this coinciding with the ever growing International Women’s Day, I realise – albeit with hindsight – that everything I have achieved is at least in part due to women pushing boundaries in the past.

I have been in the consumer insights and market research world since the very late 80s. I have to say I have never once questioned whether I could be successful or whether I was being held back because I was a woman. I went to an all girls Grammar school where it instilled not so much a ‘you can do it as well as men’ but more an attitude of not even thinking about it – of course we could.

When I went to Research International in the early 90s I was surrounded by women Directors, as well as men, and again I never stopped to even think about it.

In another industry of course this could have been so different. I do feel the research industry is a good one for women to shine in. Needing a mix of academia, creativity, pragmatism and the ability to juggle lots of things at once, it is well-suited to (stereotypically of course) a woman’s strengths vs a man’s.

I was given cause to really stop and think about what we women today owe past pioneers just recently… I went to see the Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A. What an amazing woman. What she achieved and the cultural and social change for women she in part reflected and in part helped drive was astounding. And, I learned, whilst not that long ago really, this was all at a time when women were not even allowed to have a credit card of their own without written permission from a man. That blew my mind.

And so, after all these years, I do appreciate that had my career been even 10 years before, in another industry, or perhaps even in different companies, then my path may not have been so smooth. Women before me had to work harder, challenge more and often had to portray themselves as something other than what they were. I have been lucky; yes I’ve worked really hard, but I have always been me – and I’ve been successful in spite of that!

I am really proud that as Incite turns 20, our current team of directors, totalling 16, comprises eight women. This hasn’t always been the case, and it isn’t by deliberate design – but it is something we should try to maintain going forwards. And with the next crop of strong talented women coming through, there is no reason why this won’t be the case.

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