Why as a Woman, I will not be celebrating International Women’s Day

When I was 16 years old, we started career guidance sessions at school. Admittedly I found it rather strange that our careers guidance counsellor was a nun. As it turned out this was a good thing. In my first session she asked me what I wanted to be so she could help me define my career path. When I said I wanted to be an Architect she looked at me with dismay and said “No, No, that’s not a nice job for a girl what other things interest you?” I said nothing and so she handed me some brochures on teaching and nursing telling me I could look into these careers. I left her office put the pamphlets in the bin and thought “Well, she is a nun so I can’t take her advice seriously as I guess she isn’t really aware of other career possibilities”.

At University the male to female ratio on my course was probably close to 10:1 I didn’t see this as odd, I had friends on other courses that were the reverse . For me it was about people choosing to study what the wanted. It just so happened that more men studied architecture and more women studied other things, I felt that was up to the individual. I was never treated differently to others on my course just because I was female and I never thought that I was any different to any of the other architecture students (there were some that would disagree and say I was very different but this was not gender based).

The first time I went to a construction site as a newly qualified architect I got wolf whistled at and told the entrance to the office building was next door. Maybe I’m thick skinned but I just laughed and said “I’m the architect, here to supervise your work, so I’d be nice if I were you” and it was the start of a great working relationship with the all-male construction team. I have had many less friendly experiences as a woman in construction. Have I suffered discrimination, were there people that questioned my ability just because I was a woman? Of course there were, and much worse too,  I have many unpleasant tales I could tell. However I like to think I overcame all of these situations with knowledge and hard work. I earned peoples respect, and now along with my female business partner we run a successful business in the construction industry in Singapore.

Do I feel the need to celebrate that I’m a woman, absolutely, I love being a woman so what is not to celebrate. But we live in a multigender world where everyone’s individuality should be celebrated regardless of gender. The same people who champion “equality” will be celebrating International women’s day. However, I will not, because celebrating one gender and not others is certainly not equitable. It is worse, It is divisive it sets us apart as though we need some sort of special treatment. It creates a sense of entitlement for one gender and puts them above or apart from the others.

These kind of divisive gender distinctions and celebrations do not create a unified and inclusive society they simply move the gender bias around. Where once it was me and maybe other girls being told we couldn’t be architects now many studies are showing that white boys from poorer backgrounds are becoming increasingly disadvantaged with far fewer boys from poorer backgrounds going on to university than girls from similar backgrounds.

Its time we put an end to this crusade of deepening the gender divides and moving the problem of gender bias around in the name of promoting equality. Lets call it out for what it is because it really isn’t about equality it is about elevating the status of one gender above all others. So, let’s stop this nonsense and instead celebrate humanity and the uniqueness of each individual, let each individual celebrate their gender as part of who they are. If you want to celebrate International women’s day do so knowing that you are discriminating against all the other genders that do not have an international day to celebrate their gender.