Not talking about IT does not make IT go away. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge. Kerry Jordan-Daus discusses what this means to her and how she can embed this into her work and personal life.
International Women’s Day 2021, a call out to challenge, there is a choice to be made. But what is IT I am choosing to challenge? For me, this is a choice about what would make life fairer? I want to challenge the unfairness that is so deeply embedded in the everyday that IT is not noticed as unfairness. IT is normalised. IT has become learnt behaviour.
IT is the directionality of my life as a woman, the implicit assumptions that have shaped how I see myself, what I do, what I say, what I believe I can expect or not. IT is the myriad of personal, cultural and structural inequalities which are barriers to equality.
But first, I must see IT to challenge IT. Like Alice, I need to venture to that place where I can look into my life lived; and #ChooseToChallenge. I must believe that IT does not have to be like this. There is another way.
Lola Olufemi shares her vision for society and reminds us that her vision of a world where our life chances are not determined by our gender, our social class, our ethnicity, our sexual orientation, our access to food, education, health care and support. We can and should choose to challenge. If I do not challenge, then who will? There is no choice but to challenge.
Challenge is difficult work. This is living my feminist life. By choosing to challenge we are being disruptive. We are making it uncomfortable for those of us who hold positions of privilege and power. And from this position, we do not see, or choose not to see, or deny the existence of IT. This is not a blame or shame game, but it is a challenge to recognise these spaces, to see how the space that gifts power and privilege is the space that denies others. To challenge inequity, we are promoting a sharing or redistribution of privilege. Letting go of your power; this is hard and scary, especially so when you believe that you have worked hard and made many sacrifices for what you have achieved. Challenge is difficult work.
I am a white, cis gendered, abled bodied, working-class woman academic. What privilege and power does this give me to challenge? Recognising my power; power as “potentia” (activist power) is important. As a leader, as a teacher and as a mother I will use my potentia; and #ChooseToChallenge.
I will use my leadership role to challenge and call out organisational practices which continue to deny women in academia equal opportunity to scholarship, equal pay, and flexible working.
I will use my classroom to challenge my students to be see alternatives and be alternatives.
I will use my motherhood to campaign for inclusion of neurological diversity.
“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” = Audre Lorde
Kerry Jordan-Daus is Assistant Head of School of Humanities and Educational Studies.