International Women's Day started in the US in 1909 and since then has spread around the world to become widely celebrated.

TotalProfessions welcomes the marking of this day and takes the opportunity to highlight the ongoing gender inequalities in the professions. It's still much harder for women to get ahead in many sectors, and in the UK cuts have meant that a lot of the part time jobs which women do have been axed.

However some of our wonderful professional bodies (what is a professional body again?) are making efforts to address the issue of gender inequality. In 2010 the Professional Associations Research Network (PARN) found that 29% of professional bodies have a diversity and equal opportunities policy and more now have specialist member groups focusing on diversity issues such as gender.

Equally Professional is a group of professional bodies committed to promoting equality & diversity. Amongst these are those representing some of the professions that tend to have the least diverse populations, such as the Bar Council (for barristers), the Institute of Physics and the Institution of Civil Engineers. These organisations, along with the others, are committing to improve diversity in their professions. was born out of these discussions when the group wanted to respond to a government report on the issue of (un)fair access to the professions (check out the Unleashing Aspiration report). PARN also developed a diversity toolkit for professional bodies to use when implementing change in their organisation to improve diversity. 

So there are efforts being made to create more of gender balance in our professions. Let's take this opportunity to praise these efforts and call for more of the same!

Happy International Women's Day!

Find out about the events going on in your area for International Women's Day, wherever you are.

8th March 2012

Amy Hannington is Editor of and Research Assistant at PARN.