International Women’s Day – Why it’s Important, Especially Now

Held annually, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a worldwide celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. IWD seeks to raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity, and bring attention and resources to female-focused charities. March 8th is the chosen day for celebration as on March 8th, 1908, women took to marching the streets in NYC in demand of better pay, shorter hours, and voting rights.

This year, the theme for IWD is Choose to Challenge (gender stereotypes and bias). This theme urges people to speak-up and call-out gender inequality, stereotypes, and bias as a means to give people a deeper understanding of IWD, a stronger voice, and bring us together.

IWD has additional significance this year, as the world continues to battle COVID-19 and the pandemic has particularly impacted women. As of November 2020, over 20,000 women across Canada left the workplace while 68,000 men joined it – likely benefiting from a surge in science, technology, engineering, and math opportunities that have traditionally been male-dominated fields. Data studies are revealing a troubling story about women feeling forced to choose between their out-of-work responsibilities and their in-office roles and note that, globally, women are 24% more likely than men to lose their jobs during the pandemic – and data, well, it doesn’t lie.

As a technology company that develops solutions and mindsets supportive of higher educators delivering on the promise of student and graduate potential fulfillment through experience and opportunity, we’re uniquely connected to the movement toward equity. Internally, we work to embody our statement of diversity inclusion in all that we do and lead with the empathy critical to navigating a work-from-home environment for everyone on our team. We endeavour to build a solution to promote a more equitable search process for opportunity-seeking students, regardless of age, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, physical, or mental ability, or ethnicity. We want students to be able to take ownership of their own experiences. By providing students with a direct feed of opportunities, and then assisting them to articulate their skills and experiences, we aim to empower and to level the playing field – for everyone.

We hire talented, motivated, and focused people who want to come to work and build something impactful. We hire the best and welcome anyone regardless of age, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, physical, or mental ability, or ethnicity, to join us. Bring your whole self to work, bring your best self to work. – Orbis Statement of Diversity & Inclusion

IWD has put together resources and slide decks that you can use to inform and inspire your team and community to push-back against the tides of gender biases, stereotypes, and inequities. Here are just a few noteworthy facts we read in it:

  • On a day-to-day basis, women continue to struggle with likeability bias, performance bias, maternal bias, attribution bias, affinity bias, and intersectionality. You can learn about these here.
  • Black women continue to be 2.5 times more likely to have someone express surprise at their language skills or abilities.
  • Women are 3 times more likely than men to be interrupted while speaking
  • 66% of women (vs. 1% of men) are likely to receive performance feedback that their leadership or working style is abrasive.


The path forward requires an informed approach (click to read The Globe & Mail’s Investigation on the gender pay gap). On this International Women’s Day we hope the above resources from IWD serve as a good starting point for conversations around women in the workplace and particular recognition for what women are up against during this pandemic. A future of fulfilled potential is only possible through the potential fulfillment of everyone.