Each January, at AXIS Network we hold our AGM, where we strategise on our upcoming activities; thinking about what will make the big impact, what will move the dial further towards egalitarianism, and our vision of a gender balanced future, benefitting everyone in society...
This year, our events and mentoring programme were going to be bigger and better than ever (mentoring: check!, events: let us get back to you on that one….); we would delve further in to thought leadership; we planned to explore working groups to drive industry solutions… yet when we got on to the topic of role models we paused.
Our role model’s initiative at times has felt like hard work. People don’t see themselves as role models (and they are – all of us are!), and so there’s a certain amount of required effort we put in to encouraging people to take part and share their story with us. And it’s the area of our programme that we receive the least feedback on, making it difficult to know what impact it’s having.
My opinion on the importance of role models has changed over the years. Last year I turned 30, and upon reflecting on my (short) career so far, to date I haven’t looked at someone and thought “I want to do that job because she’s doing it”; I’ve just always projected myself towards the career I currently have. For me, it’s my personality, my upbringing, my support network, which has driven my career to date. I’m stubborn and impatient, and if someone tells me I can’t do something, I tell them, “watch me”.
But not everyone is like me.
Through my work with AXIS, and learning to understand that what motivates and drives others is unique, I can now see why role models are critical in our society. For the shy teenager unsure of pursuing a career in STEM, seeing someone like her who has already blazed the trail is powerful. And for myself, as I now consider my next career steps, blending that with the future potential of motherhood, I have found myself taking comfort in the role models available to me, those who have already made those manoeuvres before me, and I have someone to aspire to.
Role models are trail blazers. They’ve carved the path before you, and every subsequent journey becomes a little easier, a little more familiar, less daunting.
This is why, in 2020, we have continued our Role Models programme. Despite the effort vs reward, we believe it’s valuable - and we believe YOU are a role model!
We want to encourage you to tell your story, and be a role model for others. Simply telling the story of your life might just inspire another, who can find something in your story to relate to, something which makes them believe the next step they need to take is possible, because someone like them has done it before. We are all role models!
If we’ve encouraged you to share your story, there are a number of ways that you can participate within your comfort zone. This might be in the form of a blog, attending a school, giving a talk, writing a short piece for AXIS, or even just sharing a little bit more about your life in your next work meeting. Go ahead and share, you’ll be surprised at who you inspire!