Written by Kim Cordell | Product Development Administrator, European Medical Journal | @EMJ_Kim
One hundred years ago in the UK, women over the age of 30 who were married to men with land, or who owned land themselves, were granted the right to vote under the 1918 Representation of the People Act. The fight for suffrage was an increasingly hostile battle between the British government and the country’s women, with the Suffragette movement gaining media attention through hunger strikes, members chaining themselves to railings, and arson and firebomb attacks, alongside other non-violent forms of campaigning, all to ensure women in the UK were granted the right to vote. Fast-forward to 2018 and EMJ is proud be celebrating International Women’s Day and the advances made in the name of gender equality; however, there is still a long way to go.
We as women currently find ourselves at another pivotal moment in history, with the spotlight primarily focussed on campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp to bring an end to sexual harassment and gender-pay disparities within the media industry and beyond. The #TimesUp campaign was launched with a legal defence fund at the beginning of 2018 to help women in less privileged positions protect themselves from sexual misconduct and the consequences that may arise from reporting these events. In addition, an open letter was signed by hundreds of women in the media industry that reads: “The struggle for women to break in, to rise up the ranks, and to simply be heard and acknowledged in male-dominated workplaces must end; time’s up on this impenetrable monopoly…”.1
With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report stating that gender parity is over 200 years away,2 there has never been a more important time to make this the focus of conversation. Today, on International Women’s Day, the annual campaign calls for us to stay motivated and #PressforProgress, with women around the world coming together to strive for gender parity. As Reese Witherspoon told the New York Times: “We’re finally hearing each other, and seeing each other, and now locking arms in solidarity with each other, and in solidarity for every woman who doesn’t feel seen, to be finally heard”,1 and her words could not ring truer than on this day.
I’ve decided to use this day as an opportunity to celebrate the women within the EMJ offices and discover what drives each of us to be the gold medal winners that the company champions. I asked the other EMJ ladies to describe the mantras they live by, the quotes that inspire them day in, day out, and the pieces of advice that have been passed to them which they will never forget.
Firstly, let’s talk about self-confidence and the #BoPo movement. Defined as body positive, the #BoPo movement not only looks at accepting the skin you live in, but also at celebrating the incredible achievements your body is capable of each day, above and beyond aesthetics. We’ve grown up in a society that has taught us that women should always be perfect. If you believe the glossy magazines that adorn the shelves, you’ll believe we need the perfect hair, the perfect make-up, and the perfect body to be happy, but let’s step back for a moment and recognise that perfection isn’t always defined by what we see in adverts. As Katie Earl, Editorial Assistant, stated: “It’s harrowing to think how low my self-esteem was during the years when I thought that Cosmo was the height of feminism and that my self-worth was directly proportional to how skinny and pretty I may or may not have been.” Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read such magazines, but just remember that the adverts projecting that beautiful girl on the page shouldn’t define you and your self-worth. If you’re looking for meaningful content, Katie suggests: “Read books and articles that contain actual advice from real women about how to live life to the fullest, as well as how to embrace those parts of life that aren’t so great.” Louise Rogers, Content Marketing Assistant and strong supporter of the #BoPo movement, emphasised the importance of remembering that “all bodies are good bodies.” She added: “We are constantly being told by so many different platforms what beauty is, but what beauty is for each individual person is not for other people to decide. You know what is beautiful? Confidence. It’s our time now to tell the world that our bodies are not for society’s consumption.” The next time you compare yourself to that model you saw at London Fashion Week or you feel disappointed that you don’t look like the woman in front of you on the train, take a step back and remember every single person out there is unique and that’s what makes you wonderful. You define your self-worth and your beauty, and no one else can take that right away from you.
As a collection of gold medal winners, the EMJ girls had a lot to say about reaching their goals. As I’ve previously mentioned, “there are a million reasons why individuals don’t reach their potential” and “you may find yourself vowing to make this the time that you’re going to change something about yourself or your lifestyle, but nothing will change unless you do”.3 If you’re struggling to achieve the goals you set out to reach, make like our Publishing Assistant, Jess Redfern, and practise the mantra: “Today is a beautiful day to be alive.” When you’re finding it difficult to get out of the cosy cocoon you’ve made in bed on a cold, dark morning, Jess noted: “The idea of this pulls me out of my sleepiness and reminds me of everything I have to be grateful for, and that each day is what you make it.” Louisa Kewell, Product Development Administrator, shared her personal mantra that “with hard work and determination, you can achieve anything you set your mind too”, while Harriet Lacey, Editorial Administrator, reinforced the idea that no matter how hard a task gets, there’s no reason to quit! If you’ve ever reached that point where you feel like you’re ready to chuck in the towel, act like Harriet who describes herself as someone who “doesn’t like to give up on things.” She recommends working harder if what you’re trying doesn’t seem to be working.
We’ve become a society fixed on the idea of instant gratification, where we demand immediate results. Whether you find yourselves becoming impatient with your internet not loading as quickly as you want it to, or if you have to queue for 5 minutes for that coffee you’ve been coveting all morning, sometimes we all need to take a step back and think about what’s really important. We spend our lives believing the grass is greener on the other side, but as Stephanie Somuah, Project Manager, cautions: “Beware of destination addiction: the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job, or even with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it’ll never be where you are.” Now, I’m not here to suggest you should give up on your dreams, not at all! I’ll be the first to admit I’m a dreamer, but it’s important to keep your feet on the ground and stop thinking of that alternative that doesn’t exist. Remember you’re in charge of your happiness and only you can control your direction. “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change,” stated Hayley Cooper, Senior Project Manager, while Alice Douglas, Project Manager, recommends “doing the best you can until you know better, then you can do better.”
As our celebration of the mantras of the women of EMJ draws to an end, Product Development Manager, Stacey Rivers, bids us never to forget the golden rule: “treat people how you would like to be treated”. My personal mantra? Always make a decision. Close to 20 years ago, I was on holiday with my mum and would keep saying “I don’t know”, “wherever”, or “maybe” in response to any question she asked me. She told me to always make a decision and stick with it no matter what, and this advice has stuck with me for life.
Our parting words of wisdom as a publishing company comes from Louise Chick, Product Development Administrator, who reminds us all that “if you ever feel lonely, lost, and don’t know what to do, read a book. Someone, somewhere, will have gone through the same thing as you, and written it down. You just have to find it.”
- The Guardian. Time’s Up: Hollywood women launch campaign to fight sexual harassment. 1st January 2018. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/01/times-up-hollywood-women-launch-campaign-to-fight-sexual-harassment. Last accessed: 22 February 2018.
- Where Women Work. World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report measures gender equality. Available at: https://www.wherewomenwork.com/Career/640/Global-Gender-Gap-WorldEconomicForum. Last accessed: 21 February 2018.
- Kim Cordell. Potential. 30 November 2017. Available at: http://emjreviews.com/blog/potential/. Last accessed: 22 February 2018.