What is International Women’s Day?

What is International Women’s Day?

The 8th of March marks International Women’s Day – a day for celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias and taking action against inequality. This year’s theme aims to #BreakTheBias 🙅🏻‍♀️🙅🏻‍♂️ against women in our communities, workplaces, schools, and society. Even today, prejudice against women continues to represent a significant challenge to gender equality. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, it is estimated that gender equality will not be achieved for another 135 years.


At Madano, we are taking International Women’s Day as an opportunity to remember how far society has come in campaigning for gender equality. Below are some key milestones in British Women’s History:


Timeline UK:

  • 1918: Following the British suffrage movement, women won the right to vote (if they met the criteria of owning a property and being over the age of 30).
  • 1918: Irishwoman Constance Markievicz became the first women to be elected to the House of Commons – but refused to take her seat in protest.
  • 1928: All women ages over 21 were given voting rights.
  • 1952: Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne and is the UK’s longest-reigning monarch.
  • 1961: The contraceptive pill for married women became available on the NHS, it was later made available to single women in 1967.
  • 1979: Margaret Thatcher was elected the first female Prime Minister of the UK and was the longest serving British Prime Minister of the 20th
  • 1991: Helen Sharman became the first British Astronaut.
  • 1999: Women were legally entitled to 18 weeks unpaid maternity leave, whereas maternity leave varied depending on length of service in previous years.
  • 2017: Nearly 20 per cent of small businesses in the UK are female owned – increasing to 30 per cent in 2020.
  • 2021: The gender pay gap between men and women dropped to 4 per cent, and women on FTSE boards increased by 50 per cent in five years.


International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s and celebrated in the UK since 1977. The historic event commemorates its 45th annual event this year. It is undeniable that much progress has been made towards a more gender-equal world, though we still have a long way to go to achieve gender parity. It is important to continue to champion for gender equality beyond March 8th and remember that we can all make a positive difference for women across the world.


Join us as we aim to #BreakTheBias in our workplace, champion women’s voices and celebrate our women colleagues this month.


International Women's Day

Madano colleagues supporting IWD with the #BreakTheBias pose.



Further resources:


2016 Fawcett Report

GOV.UK Research and analysis: Gender equality at work: research on the barriers to women’s progression

World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2021

The Fawcett Society

Helen Bamber Foundation

The History of LGBTQ+ History Month UK

The History of LGBTQ+ History Month UK

LGBTQ+ History Month UK is celebrated in February. Founded In 1994 by a high-school history teacher and brought to the UK by Schools Out UK in 2005, it’s a month for observing the history of gay rights, LGBT civil rights movements as well as the wider historical contribution of LGBTQ+ people to society/humanity. This year’s theme is “The Arc is Long”, referring to Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s quote “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the UK’s first official Pride March, which was held in 1972 in North London and attended by 2000 people. Since then, a lot has changed – an estimated 1.5 million people attended the most recent London Pride March in 2019. LGBTQ+ rights have broadly increased across the UK, with same-sex marriage being legalised (only) 8 years ago.

Some of the challenges still facing LGBTQ+ people include poorer mental health, safety concerns, conscious and unconscious biases, adoption rights, higher levels of homelessness and so-called ‘conversion therapy’.

As an allied employer, Madano is proud of, champions and actively supports our LGBTQ+ colleagues. We strive to safely welcome those who identify as LGBTQ+ to talk about and share their experiences.

Considering the aim of LGBTQ+ History Month has always been to “eliminate prejudice by educating people”, we wanted to take this opportunity to share some notable milestones in the UK’s modern LGBTQ+ history:

  • December 1939: Alan Turing solves the Enigma code used for coded communications by the Axis powers in WWIIin 1952 he is prosecuted for same-sex activities and was subsequently chemically castrated – he received a post-humous pardon from Queen Elizabeth II in 2013
  • July 1967: Homosexuality is decriminalised in England and Wales – it is not decriminalised in Northern Ireland until 1981 following intervention by the European Court of Human Rights
  • June 1969: Stonewall Riots in the USA catalysed the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, including the formation of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF)
  • November 1972: The first UK LGBTQ+ Pride March is held in North London
  • October 1975: Maureen Colquhoun becomes the first openly gay Member of Parliament (she later died in 2021)
  • October 1981: The first HIV/AIDs death in Britain is reported at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London – an estimated 33 million HIV/AIDs related deaths have occurred globally since – the UK is projected to have 0 new transmissions of HIV by 2030
  • January 1992: The World Health Organisation (WHO) declassified same-sex attraction as a mental illness
  • March 1997: Equal immigration rights in the UK are extended to same-sex couples
  • January 2000: The ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual people serving in the UK army was lifted
  • December 2005: The Civil Partnership Act 2004 comes into force, allowing same-sex couples legal recognition of their relationship, although there remain some technical differences compared to marriage
  • March-December 2014: Same-sex marriage was legalised in England, Wales and Scotland (legalised in 2020 in Northern Ireland)

Reflecting on the past can give us an insight into the expectations that we can have for the future. Even though the arc has been long in achieving equality, diversity, and impactful change, we’re grateful for the present and optimistic about the future.

Written by Harry Fleming, Account Executive in our Healthcare team, and Bethan Neil, Marketing and Brand Coordinator. To get in touch with us at Madano, please email [email protected].

Shaping an alternative future for engineering

Shaping an alternative future for engineering

To mark International Women in Engineering Day 2021, Madano was delighted to speak with five inspirational women from a variety of STEM sectors about the unique challenges women in engineering face, and any advice they would offer to young women starting their careers.

Now in its eighth year, International Women in Engineering Day is held on 23 June to celebrate the contribution of women in the field, and to raise awareness of the amazing career opportunities available to women and girls. The theme for INWED21 was Engineering Heroes, and Madano’s Michaila Hancock spoke to some of the very heroes Madano is lucky enough to count as client partners.

The conversations that took place were so engaging that we were able to summarise them in a video and provide the more in-depth write-up below.

Who or what inspired you to pursue your career?

I would love to say that I had a five- or 10-year plan. I don’t think anyone has that in reality. I think one of the major reasons I’ve ended up where I am now is because I really loved maths. I had an interest in it, but I had very little experience in coding and computer science early on. Really, I came into the software world on the business side and found a passion there. It opened my eyes to what the business world surrounding technology looks like, and what people with technical skills and analytical skills can bring in that space.

Joanna Crown, Mind Foundry

I had a GCSE teacher who was just incredibly passionate about maths. He just had this infectious enthusiasm and I realised how beautifully maths underlies a lot of normal physics phenomena that we don’t notice day-to-day. When I got to university, I absolutely loved it. I’ve always thought that teachers are so crucial in your career.

Nikita Chaturvedi, First Light Fusion

Back in the day, I don’t even recall thinking about ever pursuing a career in this direction. It’s more about what or who has kept me here. I love the diversity first and foremost – building, designing, creating, decommissioning and anywhere in between. Over 30 years, you make true friends and mentors. In fact, one is my current role model and he’s the person who taught me a lot about the human aspects of leadership.

Pamela, nuclear industry

The very first person that really inspired me was my grandmother. She designed aircraft carriers during World War Two, so she’s always been this pioneer.

Nikki’s grandmother, Mary Kramer, during World War II

But nuclear engineering specifically? I was reading a Dan Brown book about antimatter and, at the time, I’m like: “Oh, this is science fiction!” But then I started flipping through my physics book and I stumbled on a chapter on antimatter, and it changed my life forever.

Nikki Maginn, Energy Impact Center

Regarding the start of your career, were there many barriers that don’t exist anymore or have the barriers changed for women, do you think?

Maybe the question is best posed to the people who were put off doing A-levels in maths or computer science, or didn’t decide to go to university. Perhaps those people could have had a fantastic career in the technology sector and don’t because they went down a different path. I’m very lucky that I haven’t experienced any barriers in getting where I am now. I think I’ve been fortunate in many respects to have had a lot of support at different stages in education and beyond.

Joanna Crown

When I was a shift supervisor at a chemical treatment plant, I had to request my own toilet. I was the only female on that site and I really had struggled to find size 4 steel toe cap chemical-resistant boots to do my job, so little things like that. They were some of the physical barriers that existed then. I’m pleased to say, over the last 30-plus years, times really have moved on. I’m aware there’s more to do but they really have changed, and I think we’ve started the momentum now and it will just keep growing.

– Pamela, nuclear industry

I think it’s still the same barriers. I think that I’ve figured out ways to navigate them, and I do a lot of work to make sure that other young female engineers can navigate through it. As someone who transitioned from engineering to policy, it’s a really difficult transition, so the big barrier is: how do I do this and will I be respected if I don’t have the same credentials as other people in my field?

Michelle Brechtelsbauer, Energy Impact Center

It has changed, for sure. When I graduated, nuclear was not a topic of discussion at all. Now it’s at the forefront. I do work at a nuclear company, but I can’t read the news without hearing about nuclear, so I think it’s very exciting that that barrier to entry is very much removed and now we’re just hungry for people to come join us. I do think there are still some perceived barriers, in the sense that there aren’t a lot of women in engineering and we’re not hearing about them. It’s the perceived barrier for students or young girls, as we don’t hear these stories as much as we do for male counterparts.

– Nikki Maginn

How has it been being both a woman and a person of colour in your industry?

The thing I keep repeating is that I came into this environment, which was largely white and male-dominated, and felt like I had to fit in, which obviously I couldn’t. Embracing that was very liberating. It didn’t change anything about the work I’m doing. It’s a colourful world, so I think just embracing my femininity and not being afraid to let that be very present is something I’d encourage everyone to do.

– Nikita Chaturvedi

What three things would you tell a young woman wanting to pursue a career in the engineering industry today?

Follow what you’re passionate about. I think you’ve got to enjoy what you do, you’ve got to be inspired by it, and it’s got to continually stimulate you. I think a commitment to lifelong learning, digesting information and learning more. Follow where your inspiration goes, learn more about it and gain skills that way. And I think if there’s a third one, I’d probably say connect. Connect with people and leverage the networks that you have around you. So those are probably my three. Follow your passion. Keep learning. Connect with people.

– Joanna Crown

Identify what you want to do and don’t be influenced by anyone else. It is an ongoing journey. I’m still in the process of discovery, but I think as much experience as you can get in different areas of work will help. Don’t be put off by the fact that you might be wanting to go into a male-dominated environment. It does have some challenges, and you might feel self-conscious, but that shouldn’t deter you from what you’re passionate about. Embrace your differences and the fact that you have a different background, because that might help you flourish in the workplace. It’s a wonderful thing to be female.

– Nikita Chaturvedi

The first thing I would tell that young girl is to embrace every opportunity that comes your way. There’s an opportunity to learn in everything you do, so be open-minded to learning and taking what life’s giving you. Also embrace your why. It fuels you and it helps to propel you forward instead of you having to push your way through. Finally supporting each other. It is something women are so good at.

– Nikki Maginn

Thank you to Nikita Chaturvedi, Nikki Maginn, Michelle Brechtelsbauer and Joanna Crown for their fascinating contributions, and for inspiring more women to shape the future of engineering.

Find out more about International Women in Engineering Day here.

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