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This year on International Women Day, the Scotland East Regional Group share their collective experiences and thoughts on women in the workplace. Between flexible working, raising children, and progressing at the same rate as their male counterparts, Scotland East highlights how attitudes are slowly changing for the better.

This year on InternationalWomen Day, the Scotland East Regional Group wanted to share a collection ofexperiences and thoughts. We start with a reflective piece by Co-Chair Fiona Torrancewritten for Women in Science Day, highlighting challenges she faced and howattitudes are changing.

"On International Women Day, I thought I would take a momentto reflect on my career so far and how we can support women in the workplace.My name is Fiona and I the Scottish Grey Partridge Recovery Project ResearchAssistant at the GWCT and a practitioner member of IEMA. I have taken on a varietyof roles in the environment sector and absolutely love what I do. Since Igraduated 11 years ago, Ie come across many challenges in my career. Iebeen fortunate enough to have had a great deal of support from my family,friends and colleagues but others have, on occasion, questioned my careerchoice or valued my opinion less. Having worked in traditionally male dominatedindustries (formally pest management, construction and now agriculture) I havesometimes had to work a little harder to make people consider me as an equal orencourage them to challenge their preconceived attitudes. This isn going tochange overnight but I think things are changing for the better. It importantthat we call out the traditional stereotypes and make people realise thathaving more women in the workplace creates a better working environment foreveryone. When it comes to getting more women to maximise their potential, Ithink it crucial to make sure doors are always left open. Curiosity, ambitionand a willingness to learn should always be encouraged in people. It up to usto make sure that we offer advice, support and guidance and show how women canthrive in their chosen fields".

Keeping with Fiona themesin the piece above, we asked our Scotland East steering group members what someof the challenges they face as working women. Themes such as balancing careerprogression with life choices were particularly prominent.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge as aworking woman?

  • Wanting to be a mum, progress in my career AND work part-time.My company is allowing me to do this but it a struggle.
  • Making big compromises to get my dream position in alaboratory, but rather than getting promoted I had to resign just a few yearslater because it was incompatible with starting a family. Women are now raisedto be professionals and economically independent, so my sacrifice came withfrustration and anxiety until I learnt to see it as an opportunity as well.
  • Returning to work after having my first child and switchingfrom full to part-time. Many working women in senior roles struggle with this,particularly as there is usually no change in their role or level ofresponsibility at work. Having a supportive line manager and a great teamaround me has meant I urvivedthis transition, but too many talented womendon.
  • As a young female professional, I sometimes find myselfjustifying why I qualified to be in meetings or to conduct site visits toclients. Especially in more traditional industries, I often the only woman onsite.

Q: Do you feel effected by adifference between men and women in the industry? And how do you expect this toevolve?

  • It is slowly changing and awareness of the benefits of genderdiversity (and all diversity) is beginning to force a change but taking a longtime. Still not enough is done to support women to progress to seniorpositions.
  • Most industries need to close the gender gap at juniorpositions and allow balance for family/working life. Both men and women wouldfind it easier to share family responsibilities and this would allow femaletalent to be more visible for senior positions. This will benefit society and business,and from an environmental point of view, could be crucial to achieve muchneeded environmental targets.
  • Yes, it is changing, and being open about flexible workingand clearly defining boundaries is helping to normalise part-time and flexibleworking.
  • /span>Things are changing for the better, but more action isneeded. As women we understand some of the issues and barriers to tackling thegender gap, but we also need the support of men in our organisations.

It important on a day likeInternational Women Day to remember the progress wee made towards genderequality, and the work that still needs to be done. Support your femalecolleagues and friends by talking about their challenges, and most importantlyget male colleagues involved in the conversations./p>

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing member, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated.

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McKenna Smith

Scotland East Regional Group is based in Edinburgh. The Scotland East steering group organise regular socials and events throughout the year.