Copyright – Jacob Sacks-Jones, Mia Hawkes

 Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day!



On International Women’s Day we’re feeling grateful to be hearing from some of our formidable female clients.  Here Ugly Duck discuss the impact they make as women leaders.


If I had a penny for every time someone at work has asked me to check with my boss I’d be rich. People do not assume that a woman in her twenties could be her own boss. I might not have thought this would be possible either had I not bumped into an old friend as she embarked upon the daunting prospect of launching a business venture by herself. Eager to help I quickly became her partner and together we learnt how to set up and run the business as we went.


 Copyright – Jacob Sacks-Jones

I’ve become more aware of gender running a business, in ways both good and bad. I am glad to be a woman in a senior leadership role; to be able to provide an example of what women can do when we have access to the right resources. However it took me several years before I felt able to confidently introduce myself as a director. Without a formal education in business management I felt as though I were an imposter who could be discovered at any moment.

This hesitance to speak out is widespread among women and consequently we have found it challenging to secure female speakers for events. When we began organising TEDX Southwark back in 2013 we invited a mix of people from different genders and ethnic backgrounds to speak. Only white men came back to us. We went back to the drawing board and then only approached women and people of colour and again received a very low number of positive responses. In order for us to be hearing a diverse range of voices we have to push hard, as when people have been marginalised and silenced all their lives, it takes some encouragement to feel confidence enough to speak up.


Copyright – Jacob Sacks-Jones

The locations we run are used for filming, amongst other things, and it has become apparent to me that the roles and departments of film crews are highly gendered. Art and costume departments are dominated by women, and the technical roles including sparkies, riggers and electricians are filled by men. The closer you get to the camera the greater the concentration of men, with women on the sidelines or in front of the camera. Small wonder that the Bechdel test so often fails us when the upper echelons of film crews are almost entirely dominated by men. Ugly Duck has an all-female staff, although some young men have taken up work experience placements with us, and it has felt significant for them to witness female leadership at work.


I hope that by being a female leader I can imbue some kinder qualities in business. I am delighted every time I can set the record straight when someone assumes I am a junior staffer as I hope that in a small way this challenges their worldview. Understanding the power that owning a business affords me inspires me to offer a platform to groups who are marginalised and overlooked.
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