IWD POST – Erin Connor

(Erin Connor, Student Advisor and SWRC Coordinator, ft. Erin’s dog, Bailey)

In this mini-series of posts, the women of the clinic discuss the theme of ‘Break the Bias’, what this means to them, what International Women’s Day means to them, and experience they have that resonates with this year’s theme.

Growing up surrounded by strong women, I never doubted that I could be anything I wanted to be. It was instilled in me from an early age that there was nothing that boys could do that I couldn’t, and this gave me the confidence to pursue any path I desired.

However, this is not the same for all girls. There is a famous quote that, “you can’t be what you can’t see”. This means that for young girls growing up in a patriarchal society, with few female role models, it is difficult to have the confidence to break the bias and the glass ceiling. For these girls, International Women’s Day is so important to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and to campaign for a gender equal world.

A particularly common issue that young girls face is being labelled with negative terminology when striving for leadership positions. Even as young as primary school, I remember facing bias. I wanted to be the group leader of a project and for that was called “bossy”. Conversely, the leader of the other group, a boy, was applauded for his “leadership qualities” for taking charge. The differing words used to describe ambitious boys and girls reinforces the narrative that confidence and ambition are unattractive qualities in women, who should remember their place and not aim too high.

Having now completed my law degree and (almost) diploma, I am now ready to embark on my traineeship and make my way in an industry where women are underrepresented in positions of authority and leadership. I am also privileged to be part of and lead a team of student volunteers to the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre, an organisation that supports vulnerable women every day. I know that I would not be where I am if it were not for the support of the women around me, my friends, family and tutors who I have looked up to. This exemplifies one of my favourite quotes “empowered women, empower women”. We must remember that we are each others greatest allies and not each others competition!

To the girls called “bossy”, keep being leaders. To the girls called “emotional”, keep being passionate. To the girls called “aggressive”, keep being confident!

By Erin Connor, Student Advisor and SWRC Coordinator

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