Happy International Women’s Day!

I usually acknowledge this day with a post about some of the amazing women that we see in the diabetes world. Instead, today I’m going to take a more personal approach and mention some of the women who have so impacted me recently. Some will have been mentioned before – but maybe that’s because they continue to be the women who I look to. (I’ve linked to their Twitter accounts where possible.)

Kerri Sparling

Cherise Shockley

Melissa Lee

Daniela D’Onforio

Georgie Peters

Sana Ajmal

Lis Warren

Johanah Co

Anita Sabidi

Philissa Deroze

Mila Clarke Buckley

Heather Rose Walker

Anne Cooper

Kelly Close

Sofia Larsson-Stern

Stephanie Haack

Anna Sjoberg

Erin Akers

Jo Watson

Dana Lewis

Jane Speight

Katarina Braune

Jasmine Schipp

Katharine Barnard

Bodil Rasmussen

Jane Dickinson

Fauzia Moyeen

Alicia Jenkins

Cheryl Steele

Deb Greenwood

Emma Wilmot

Nina Mills

Marissa Hitchcock Town

Ann Morris

Ashley Ng

Melanie Stephenson Gray

Emma Stendhal

Krystal Boyea

Moira McCarthy

Andrea Limbourg

Melinda Seed

Corinna Cornejo

Elizabeth Snouffer

Kelly Kunik

Rachel Portelli

Antje Thiel

Natalie Wischer

Helen Murphy

Patricia Santos

Pei Yan Heng

Daniele Hargenrader

Lydia Parkhurst

Karen Addington

Melissa Holloway

Lesley Jordan

Taryn Black

Ilka Gdanietz

That’s a pretty long list and it barely scratches the surface. But it serves more than the purpose of just signalling some of the women whose paths I’ve crossed in recent times, or whose work has inspired me in some way. It is a list to show just how easy it is to find women who are experts in diabetes in one way or another. It shows how women can just as easily be singled out to stand on a stage, sit on a panel, be interviewed in front of a camera to talk about diabetes.

Because that’s not always happening as equally as we would like.

Last year, at the IDF, the Women and Diabetes stream was led by a man (as it had been at the previous IDF Congress); there is only one woman on the advisory panel for ATTD; gender balance when it comes to speakers at diabetes events is generally not even close to equal; panels are often dominated by men.

All the women I have mentioned have, in some way, been trailblazers. I know many of them quite well, and I have seen and heard the challenges they face, the looks given around them when they speak and write, and the words that are used to describe them when their challenges hit a nerve. There is no one way that we choose to do our advocacy or our work. But our personality – how loud or quietly we do it – shouldn’t be a measure of anything.

Recently, a couple of people have referred to me as ‘strident’. My views and opinions have also been described that way. For the record, I didn’t ask for an assessment of my personality or my opinions; these were offered up to me (by men) who thought that my confidence and directness – and stridency – was part of the reason that I’ve been having a slightly tough time in some parts of the diabetes world lately.

Strident is a word that mostly seems to be directed towards women who will not go quietly, who stand up and challenge the status quo, who are seen to rock the boat, who want to be heard, who have opinions and are not afraid to share them. Sometimes, our anger and frustration comes to the fore and that is seen as us being unable to control our emotions. We’re not always called out overtly; sometimes instead there is reference to the preference for ‘moderate voices’. Moderate voices and opinions are okay. Strident ones? Not so much.

But you know what? I’m owning it. In much the same way that I have embraced the term ‘deliberately non-compliant’, I am now taking on board the term strident. You bet I’m a strident woman and I am proud to say that. And I’m proud to stand alongside dynamic, passionate, smart, controversial, sassy women who will not, and do not go quietly. Strident women – I know them and I am one of them. I am in outstanding company.

Previous IWD posts

IWD Interweb Jumble (2019)

The Women (2018)

Hear Me Roar (2017)

The F Word (2016)