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Issue #30: The International Women's Day Issue

"Always be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of somebody else." (Judy Garland)

There are two things I have come to realise recently: 1) there is only one of you so be proud, be authentic and be the best version of yourself you can be and 2) inspiration and inspiring people can take many different forms.

So in celebration of International Women's Day (8th March) and our 30th (!) issue (yep, almost as many years as I am old! ha), we thought we would ask some of the people who have inspired us about the women who have inspired them. Read on for great stories from Northern Power woman Simone Roche (Women 1st), social enterprise guru Ambica Jobanputra (Beyond Me), our millennial voice Sophie Richardson and family man and entrepreneur Ollie Black (My Family Care).  

In the spirit of our #suitieloves issue, we also check out some interesting (inspiring and controversial) shortreads about women and diversity, as well as the events celebrating IWD.

As always, feel free to spread the #suitie word via twitter and facebook and do sign up to receive S&P in your inbox every other Thursday (our favourite day)!
Happy reading!
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We are off on our annual holiday so Issue #31 of Suit & Pie will be out on the 2nd of April. Subscribe here to receive it straight to your inbox and catch up on past issues in our archive. You can also read the Suit & Pie story here courtesy of
Inspiring women
We asked Simone, Ambica, Sophie and Ollie (see Man's Corner) to tell us about a woman who inspires them and why. Their responses were insightful and moving.
Making things happen
"The theme for IWD 2015 is 'Make it Happen'. I am inspired every day by the women who tirelessly, effortlessly and without seeking praise are 'making things happen' and are impassioned to make a difference. I am blessed that every day I meet amazing women (and men) and I would love to name them all but would fill the sky. However I would like to pay reference to one unassuming woman whose favourite quote is 'Be the change you want to see in the world' (Mohandas Ghandi). Her name is Ruth Shaw, CEO at the Sports Ground Safety Authority, co-licencee of TEDxWhitehallWomen with me and general doer of great deeds not just words - an inspiration and a fabulous friend."

Simone Roche, Director of Women 1st and Founder of Northern Power Women
Follow her @simoneroche and @northpowerwomen
More than the woman behind the man
"I'm reading Kasturba: A Life, a biography of Mohandas Ghandi's wife. Hearing about her unassuming presence, personal discipline, silent strength and unwavering faith in herself and what she believed in blows me away. Her experience as a curious young girl, a fiercely loving wife and a steadfast pillar of the non-violent resistance movement show her not to be just 'the woman behind the man' but the woman who had conviction and dignity in her beliefs. It was this quality that moved an entire nation to call her 'Ba', Gujarati for 'Mother', a testament to her leadership and their love for her. She'll always be an inspiration to me."

Ambica Jobanputra, Leadership and Team Development at social enterprise Beyond Me 
Follow her @ambica89 and find out more about Beyond Me @beyondmeorg
The type of woman I want to be
"It's so hard to pick just one inspirational woman! There are so many women who have influenced me and had an impact on my life and to them I will always be grateful. Growing up, Girl Power was everywhere and I loved the Spice Girls for making me feel like I could do anything I wanted to!

However if I had to pick just one woman it would have to be my Mum. There is a large age gap between her and my Dad and as the woman in the relationship, my Mum drew more criticism than my Dad for it. She tells me people often
questioned her motivations for dating my Dad. 30 years later and they are still going strong! She had me and my brother young but in her late 30s decided to return to full-time education whilst maintaining a part-time job and having a young family to look after. She later graduated with a 2:1 in English and became a fully qualified primary school teacher in her 40s, proving that it's never too late to follow your dreams.

She has her flaws (don't we all) but she continues to teach me a lot about the type of woman I want to be and a lot about the type of woman I don't want to be."

Sophie Richardson, Manager at Free The Children and member of the UpRising and PwC Leadership Programme. Follow her @sophie_richie
They're judging me by my age...
Said Madonna after she became a victim of ageism following her fall (and subsequent whiplash) at the Brits. OK, so the fall may have been (a little) funny (and also pretty painful), but calling her old was unnecessary - so we applaud Madonna for calling out age discrimination in our first recommended shortread this week. 

Another great shortread - Mark Carne's refreshingly honest views on his own organisation, Network Rail, and the industry's safety records and 'macho' culture. Women make up 14% of the company's workforce and he is ensuring measures are taken to 'compensate for the inherent bias that can occur in male-dominated societies'. Go Mark!

And finally, the most controversial article we read this week - Belinda Brown on Labour MP Rachel Reeves' intention to take over as Work and Pensions Secretary. "Can you imagine the state of Work and Pensions [...] if it is handed to a women with a small child under each arm?" she writes. The implication being that women can't possibly have both a successful career and children.

What Ms Brown fails to appreciate is that 1) it is all about choice and what works for some women might not work for others, no one should be criticised for how they choose to juggle work and family 2) a father has as much responsibility as a mother in bringing up a child, a woman leaving her child with her husband or family does not make her a bad parent. OK - Rant over (although if you want a real critique check out Schona Jolly's response)!
Socks & crumbs (or the bit at the bottom)
Heard it through the (corporate) grapevine...

- Now in its 5th year, the Women of the World Festival ("WOW") is a festival of talks, workshops and performances celebrating women and girls.

Headlining is US electro-pop act tUnE-yArDs and check out talks by Caitlin Moran and Safak Pavey (the first disabled woman to be elected to Turkish parliament). WOW is on until 8th March so grab your tickets quick!

- Tech City will host an IWD celebration of women's work in creative and technology industries on 6th of March. Who can resist an evening of demos, food, craft beers and wine. Exhibitors include ethical fashionistas Birdsong London and Tech for Good highlighting tech for social change.
This week I will be... 

- Checking out the (closed) underground station-cum-1940s-bar that is Cahoots complete with its own (replica) tube carriage

- Wondering why all workouts can't be as fun as clubbing... oh wait, they can at Psycle - a new type of spin class complete with strobe lighting, awesome toons and net-a-porter clad instructors

- booking some personal pruning in with the 'expert gardeners' at Privet's, a garden themed beauty treatment oasis

- Deciding whether food can control me (I think cake can!) at the new Science Museum exhibition Cravings

- cheering myself up with the 15 funniest tweets of the week (help #TheDress is everywhere!)
It's a man's world - maybe we aren't so different after all 
A mother's sacrifice
"It may be cliched, but my mum.Why? Well for any number of reasons. 

Let me put things into context. She was a trained physio, had 4 boys in 6 years, moved from the south to the north, married into a first generation German Jewish immigrant family running an all-consuming family business, surrounded by all the prejudices that Yorkshire had to throw at an educated, driven woman in the 1970s.

Perhaps it isn't until you have your own family that you just begin to get the slightest inkling of what your parents have done, given up, sweated, strained and fought over to provide the upbringing and happy memories you have. 

Our lives ran like clockwork, the house like a hotel - meals, birthdays, cards, sporting diaries, holidays, homework, love, time and attention... all delivered. We always joked that had she been in charge of the D-Day landings, the allies would have celebrated 3 weeks early!

A hugely capable woman, living in an environment that perhaps didn't allow for her to follow her own ambitions (where she would have been hugely successful), but who took that energy and dynamism into her own family. So my inspirational woman... my mum, for what she gave up, and what she gave back."

Oliver Black, Managing Director at My Family Care

Follow Ollie @oliversblack and @myfamilycare
Mr Smith's Corner
Mr Smith tells us what he has been up to this week... 

Highlights: I definitely detected some sunlight when I got up this morning so I am hoping that means those dark mornings and living off artificial light in the office are finally going to be ending. Don't order the ice-creams just yet... but it's progress!
Lowlights: I tried the Psycle thing this week (see above) although I have to report mixed results. "Spinning" doesn't really do it for me "pedaling very hard in a dark basement with no hope of advancement whilst being shouted at by some random whose instructions are inaudible over the booming sound system" maybe! 
Also, to the person that pointed out my resistance wasn't high enough on the bike for the hill climb section [Foong: That was me!], I was on a bike that was particularly sensitive!!
Lesson learnt: OK I have to say I did get a bit confused between International Women's Day and Mother's Day... the case for the defense is that I seem to be getting emails facilitating me ordering flowers online for both days - surely International Women's Day is not a flower day?! Interestingly, it is actually World Book Day today which comes with a fancy dress theme (I have some form there), so we had a Paddington Bear, two Harry Potters and a Willy Wonka leaving our house for school this morning. If there are still two wands by home time I will be amazed. Here are some suggestions for an IWD and World Book Day combo!
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