Last week I had the opportunity to attend Grow Exeter’s ‘100 Most Influential Women’ event, held, sponsored and hosted by ever generous The Deer Park Country Hotel and also sponsored by Clear Property.
It was an incredibly positive event that celebrated a group of inspiring women from all corners of industry, whittled down from 500+ nominees. From mountain climbers to international rugby referees, and featuring my very own wonder, Harry Wild of Go Wild Communications. The awards fell almost exactly 100 years after the vote was first granted for women and the feeling in the room was electric.
This was an event that shone a light, well it blasted photons akin to a nuclear blast over the achievements of incredible women, but not only because they are women, but because they are people worthy of being there. Positive role models for young people, men and women alike. Hearing stories of glass ceilings being obliterated obviously makes you despair over just how long it is taking for the issues like equal pay and sexism in the workplace, to be smashed out of existence. And of course, I reflected over my own experiences as a man that has never been told “you can’t do that… that’s not a man’s job” What I took away most from the evening, was that the attitudes of these strong individuals. The ability to be recognised for what you can achieve, just by getting on with it, striving forward and kicking ass. But also that the classic roles of gender are not a true representation of who we are. For men to be told to “man up” as if addressing feelings and vulnerabilities are a negative thing. And that a woman has to act like a man, to hide any sense of femininity like it’s some sort of weakness, in order to be taken seriously. The sooner we combat ideas like these, the sooner we can all move forward and maybe enhance and bolster our collective mental health.
I’m going to stop there as it’s strange just how uncomfortable it’s making me feel to pass judgement on such an amazing event. To comment on the achievements of inspiring women for fear of sounding like I’m ‘validating’ the event. Which is pretty pathetic isn’t it? Which I suppose highlights the whole absurd, pointless nature of the gender divide and a childhood taught that boys wear blue, girls pink. Boys play astronauts, girls nurses. Which of course is absolute bollocks. Not sure why I have chosen to include this inner monologue (part of me feels I should cut it out for fear of it being taken the wrong way). Maybe it’s because I’m a short hop, skip and a jump away from being a parent for the fist time. It’s possible I’m churning over the current issues surrounding ingrained imbalances within our culture. With hopes that our little one will one day say to us “what were you all thinking?” Hoping that any sort of gender negative thought will be as alien to it’s new mind, as women not being able to vote is for us now. I’ll tell you what though, this event has reinstated what I do believe. That people can be amazing.
I sat in the audience, stood by the side of Harry and snapped a few photos of a few friends honoured for being mighty and awesome.
The Incredible Harry Wild of Go Wild Communications.
Lauren Heath and Harry.
Harry, Alexis and Alice Bryan
A truly positive event in a tumultuous time.