We spoke to our web development manager Barbara Fieschi-Jones for International Women’s Day.
Why is International Women’s Day important to you?
It is a good time and opportunity to reflect on the status of women worldwide and to remember that not all women have equal rights and opportunities, that women’s lives are still considered disposable by some, women’s safety is still not a guarantee. Although we’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go.
Are there any women who have inspired you, whether personally or professionally? What impact have they and other role models had on you?
Amelia Earhart, Daphne du Maurier, Mary Shelley and Michelle Obama to name a few. All brave and true to themselves women. I’m also very lucky to currently be working closely to many admirable women at Energy Saving Trust.
Throughout your career, how have you been impacted by the representation of women in your sector/area of work?
I did a short stint at a family-run publishing company back in 2006. The director was employing his wife as his HR/PA and spent his days barking orders at her and demanding cups of coffee, all that in front of his two male sons who worked there too. It was pretty hard to witness and I really disliked the example he set up for his young adult boys. I didn’t stay very long.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in the workplace and what – or who – has helped you to overcome them?
I worked in banking a few years ago and one of the project teams I worked with was all male. On a few occasions my opinions were completely dismissed or I would be interrupted in meetings. One of my colleagues was very supportive when I felt frustrated and helped me find my place among this particular team.
What makes a good male ally in the workplace? What can men do to better support women at work?
Male or female, someone who shows support without judgement and who can help put things in perspective, rather than adding oil to the fire; someone trustworthy with which communication can be open. I am very lucky to report to Bob Buckley who is an incredibly supportive manager.
You’re about to have a book published (congratulations!) What advice would you give other women trying to balance a full-time career, family, and side hustles?
Thank you! I tend to book the time I want to myself as if it was an appointment. The regularity helps it become a habit, which means not only do I stick to it but my children also know that at that particular time, I’m not available, but the rest of the time I am. I tend to draft stories on my phone when I am walking back from the school run, or on the commute, or when on my cross trainer: two birds! Also, ironing is overrated so I’ve given that up for ever in favour of writing and it was one of my best decisions.