The importance of role modelling and inspiring

International Women's Day

Chris Marsden
Group General Counsel

Chris Marsden

With International Women’s Day coming up on 8 March, in our house we’ve been talking a lot about strong female role models with our daughters (aged 9 and 6).  

There are multiple examples (and for any parents who haven’t found it yet, I’d recommend but, at the moment, the women really standing out for me are those leading the fight against Covid-19. Of particular note is Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is one of the leading scientists currently working on Covid-19 vaccines. She also led the development and testing of the universal flu vaccine, led the first trial of the Ebola vaccine and worked on the vaccine for MERS. I admire her hard work, determination, intellectual and problem-solving ability under huge pressure where the stakes are extraordinarily high. In the political sphere, Jacinda Ardern, as Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Nicola Sturgeon, as First Minister of Scotland, have both acted effectively to mitigate Covid-19 risks in their respective countries while also communicating well with their constituents in difficult circumstances. More generally, women make up almost 70% of the health care workforce fighting against Covid-19 and putting themselves at personal risk to get us through this crisis.

I think the importance of role modelling and inspiring also extends to us all in different ways. Steve Biddulph (see “Raising Girls”) makes an interesting point that as fathers we are role models for our daughters’ expectations of their partners and, in doing so, we help to frame their own future relationships. This role seems to me to be equally important if you are raising boys. However, I think this is an area where we need to be careful during lockdown to make sure we don’t go backwards. All the statistics suggest that women frequently take on a disproportionate amount of responsibility for home schooling and the “mental load”. This isn’t easy, and I can’t claim to be perfect at it (particularly when starting a new job!), but I think it’s an area where we should all be striving for true balance for ourselves, our partners and future generations.

My daughters also inspire me and give me hope for the future. For me, the most important thing I can do is to give them both great role models and the best education possible so that they have the skills and resilience to find their own paths in life. I want them to have every opportunity they deserve and to grow up in a genuinely meritocratic world (which acknowledges privilege) as part of a global community. When I talk about education, I mean it in the broadest sense – both academic and personal, both IQ and EQ, with an intuitive understanding of technology and the opportunities and challenges which it brings – because I think that’s what they will need in the world which they will inherit. 

#ChooseToChallenge #internationalwomensday #IWD2021 #insideiqeq