#ChooseToChallenge100 campaign reaches over 70,000 individuals for Women’s History Month

IWD #ChooseToChallenge100, Speakers (2)

This year for International Women’s Day, we launched our #ChooseToChallenge100 campaign, asking 100 women and the public to share their stories as to how and why they choose to challenge for gender equality. 

Since the start of March, we’ve shared the stories of over 150 amazing women, from CEOs, to Founders, to Campaigners and Politicians! Through our social media channels and via shares from our supporters, we have been able to share these messages of challenge with over 70,000 individuals. Through the campaign, we have elevated the voices of so many incredible women who choose to challenge every day to see us treated fairly in regards to racial discrimination, bias, stereotypes, domestic violence, ageism, sexism, women’s health and the portrayal of women in the media.

Our campaign includes stories of challenge from June Sarpong OBE, TV Presenter, Diversity Expert & Award-Winning Author; Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President, techUK; Professor Sue Black OBE, Professor of Computer Science & Technology Evangelist; Amali de Alwis MBE, UK Managing Director, Microsoft for Startups; June Angelides MBE, Early Stage Investor, Entrepreneur, Speaker and Advocate for the Rights of Working Mothers; Debbie Forster MBE, CEO, Tech Talent Charter; Mivy James, Digital Transformation Director, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence; and Sheree Atcheson, Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader.

ChooseToChallenge100 Collage

The entire team at WeAreTheCity would like to thank everyone of the amazing women who took part in the campaign, and you, for watching and sharing these messages across your social media channels and within your organisations. You helped to amplify and raise awareness of so many issues women face on a daily basis, we are truly grateful for your comments, shares and support.

For us, the journey continues as every day is International Women’s Day – 24/7, 365 days a year. We will not stop challenging and using our platform and voice to support those who campaign for equality every day. To all of you, please keep up your own challenges, whatever they may be. It is only by our collective efforts and the support of our male allies that we will one day live in a world that we all wish to see.

Watch some of our amazing women below:

June Sarpong OBE | TV Presenter, Diversity Expert & Award-Winning Author
Andrea McLean | Broadcaster, Author & Co-Founder, This Girl Is On Fire
Jacqueline de Rojas CBE | President, techUK
Professor Sue Black OBE | Professor of Computer Science & Technology Evangelist
Debbie Forster MBE | CEO, Tech Talent Charter
June Angelides MBE | Early Stage Investor, Entrepreneur, Speaker & Advocate for the Rights of Working Mothers
Sheree Atcheson | Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader
Amali de Alwis MBE | UK Managing Director, Microsoft for Startups

Galentine's Day, group of happy, diverse womenGalentine's Day, group of happy, diverse women

CDW UK Celebrates International Women’s Day and #ChoosetoChallenge

Article by Grace Mee - Vice President of Operations and Business Transformation

Galentine's Day, group of happy, diverse womenGalentine's Day, group of happy, diverse womenAs with any day dedicated to diversity, equality and inclusion, International Women’s Day is incredibly valuable. Of course, it’s a celebration of women and everything they do, but the day also creates space for discussion, thought generation and awareness.

The energy created by a moment like International Women’s Day is infectious and inspiring and should be felt across the whole year. I want all our coworkers to know the value of their voice, their perspectives, and their experiences to our success.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme, #ChooseToChallenge, resonates with me when I look back at my career so far. I learned early on that not speaking up only slowed me down and that not offering an opinion, only to silently disagree with the final decision being made – was counter-productive.

I made a conscious decision to challenge myself in making sure my voice was heard and I realised that – as often the only woman in a room of men – I almost always had a different perspective or angle that helped as we made business decisions.

Over time, I’ve settled on four key rules to guide my career and – as everyone who works with me knows – I’ll share them with anyone who will listen:

  • Failure is necessary
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • If you’ve got something to say, say it
  • Being different is an advantage

For me, these are great rules to live by for a career in tech, an industry that I’ve always found incredibly fulfilling to work in. With its rapid pace of change, there’s always a way to regenerate, innovate and move forward – and that keeps it exciting. At CDW UK, we know it’s our desire to continuously improve that sets us apart.

I think this spirit comes through below, where I’m proud to share a sample of our coworkers’ thoughts on what International Women’s Day and #ChooseToChallenge means to them. These responses make me feel truly inspired by our Community and excited by the possibilities of what we can achieve together.

Choose to Challenge

“#ChooseToChallenge means getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’m all too aware that when things feel slightly uneasy you can misplace those feelings with believing you’re taking the wrong path or approach. However, I can now look back and recognise those moments for what they were. I now choose to challenge myself in those moments and in so doing so, I’ve been able to elevate my thoughts to a higher level, go through development changes and grow in my beliefs.”

Jessica Whellams – Head of CDW Community

“Challenge and collaboration promote innovation and inclusivity. #ChooseToChallenge means not settling for ‘it’s always been that way.’ It’s standing up and showing up. It’s about developing courage. Seeing women succeed in business encourages and empowers girls and women to pursue their careers.”

Fay Dixon – L&D Business Partner

“I believe we excel when we leave our comfort zones and for that reason #ChooseToChallenge for me is about pushing yourself, adapting, learning and being ready for change.”

Iman Mohamed - Sales Administrator, Sales Operations

“There is a famous saying that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. I believe that change must come from within, and people in the tech sector need to speak up and take steps to make our industry more diverse and inclusive. Where inequality exists, it must be challenged.”

Susan Cotton – Head of Brand Marketing

“For me #ChooseToChallenge means ‘The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.’”

Guy Smith – Head of Technology Solutions

Celebrate role models

“Girls in education need to be inspired to take STEM subjects. One way to do this is by showing them strong female role models in the industry so they can feel confident that a career in technology can be for them. CDW promotes mentorship programmes which I am lucky to have benefitted from by having an inspiring female leader who is supporting me to progress and develop in my role.”

Hayley Doyle – Customer Advocacy & Communications Manager

“More women in business and doing well creates a virtuous circle to promote even more diversity, providing role models and inspiration. From a purely personal perspective I’d love to see more role models for my daughters in both tech and finance. Everyone has a role to play in advocating diversity, this is an active choice we all make every day.”

Malcolm Pape – VP & UK CFO

Build supportive communities

Represent everyone

“In an industry that has been historically male-dominated, it is crucial that representation is reflective of the general population. This includes gender diversity, as well as cultural, racial, age, religious, ability, and orientation diversity – as an industry, we can achieve so much more if we are comprised of individuals from a variety of backgrounds.”

Flannery Devine Gibbons – Category Lead, Cloud

“Due to being considered a Generation Z baby, growing up I was always taught ‘You can be anything you want to be’. This was told to all regardless of gender, if you set your mind to something you can do it. I believe this is the best advice I was given as it always taught me to not look at anyone as any different to me, whether that be gender or ethnicity, if you put your mind to something you can achieve it and that applies to ALL.”

Lucy Ager – Internal Project Administrator

Grace MeeAbout the author

Grace is Vice President, Operations and Business Transformation UK & International and uses her 20 years' experience to lead CDW's supply and sales operations, professional and managed services, compliance, coworker services and community departments. Grace maintains a strong focus on client experience and business productivity, specialising in executive leadership strategy, business transformation, acquisition integration and people strategies.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.  

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube


group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

'Choose To Challenge'

group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

Article by Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director, Converge

Whilst our minds are busy with concepts like furlough and home schooling, it’s still important that we take a moment to celebrate women around the world, their achievements, raise awareness about gender equality, and challenge the status quo. 

At Converge, challenging is all we do. In fact, many still call us ‘Converge Challenge’, our original name when we launched back in 2011. We’ve tried to migrate to our new name, Converge, but with limited success.

Back then, we set to challenge Scottish Universities and their rate of research and idea commercialisation. In the last 10 years, the sector has massively improved its commercial outputs and can now count on a much more entrepreneurial mind-set amongst its staff and students. Scotland now rates fairly high in the University Spin-out ranking, as reported in the latest Beurhust’s Spotlight on Spin-outs.

It is not yet time to rest on our laurels though. Albeit many Universities have now become engines of innovation and company creation, making huge contributions to the economy, the process is far from perfect.

Too few female founders still come to the fore, in fact according to that very same report, in the UK only 20% of University spin-outs count at least one female founder and only 13% of total equity raised by spin-outs is secured by female founded spin-outs.

Too many talented women are put off or knocked down by the culture that surrounds investment, business growth and the idea that if you want to be an entrepreneur then you cannot be anything else and you should dedicate every waking moment to it. We know the reality is rather different, however. You can choose to be an entrepreneur, and also a mother, a father, a caring son or daughter and even have another job to sustain your family whilst your business takes off. There isn’t just one way to be entrepreneurial and we need to challenge this stereotype.

Over the last 10 years, we have substantially increased the number of female participants into our company creation programme, reaching 50:50 balance in 2019.

Last year, all top prizes were awarded to female-led or co-led businesses. This was achieved in tandem with announcing a special prize for the most promising female entrepreneur, the Rose Award (sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland and supported by their CEO, Alison Rose). And we are not the only ones, far from it.

Companies around the world have made public statements about their gender policies, disclosed gender pay gaps and adapted their investment processes to guarantee a fare share of the funding is distributed to female-founded businesses.

The current pandemic unfortunately might take us back more than 10 years.

Women have been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 crisis, having had to go back to be the main children’s or elderlies’ carers. Economic sectors led by women have been decimated by the economic crisis. All the progress we were making risks being wiped off in just 12 months.

We cannot allow this to happen.

So, this year, I choose to challenge our behaviour, our perception, our ability to accept that women’s equality is a fair price to pay in this crisis.

I choose to challenge myself and my own conscious and unconscious bias, and to challenge others’ judgment criteria.

I choose to be the one who always brings up the question of Diversity & Inclusion, even at the risk of sounding like a broken record.

Converge is lucky to be part of the journey of so many inspirational female founders from different walks of life: from bench scientists to creative talents, our environment is a constant source of inspiration and marvel.

As we continue our efforts in the commercialisation arena and work together to contribute to the economic recovery, we should not forget our guiding principles of equality, fairness and inclusion.

About the author

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director, ConvergeClaudia Cavalluzzo is Director of Converge, Scotland’s largest academic company creation and pioneering entrepreneurship development and enterprise programme for staff, students and recent graduates from Scotland’s Higher Education Institutions


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.  

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube


woman wearing a white lab coat working on an engineering project, International Women in Engineering Day

It's a woman's world: How to celebrate International Women's Day in 2021

woman wearing a white lab coat working on an engineering project, International Women in Engineering DayIt’s no secret that women have been pioneers in innovation for centuries.

From Wifi to windscreen wipers, women have helped pave the way across all industries and sectors including sustainability, technology, medicine and engineering. It’s also no secret that these women faced prejudice, ridicule and even persecution for their innovations in what was, and to some extent still is, perceived to be a ‘man’s world’. This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is choose to challenge. Challenge gender bias. Challenge inequality. Challenge anyone who says ‘it’s a man’s world’. We can each choose to challenge the issues that women face, celebrate their achievements and create a more inclusive world in the process.

International Women’s Day is a cause for celebration very close to Hire Space’s heart - we have so many strong women on our team! Usually, we would be celebrating in the office, recognising each other’s successes and generally celebrating the massive accomplishments women are making in the world every single day. However, this year will look a little different. The coronavirus pandemic has reduced our opportunities for social interactions, leaving many of us feeling isolated and lacking the sense of community they once had. This can leave us feeling deflated when wanting to celebrate causes and movements that are so driven by community solidarity.

A tech company at heart, Hire Space truly believes that if harnessed in the correct way, technology can be used to create outstanding virtual experiences that bring something new to the table. Sure, we can’t replicate the serendipity of in-person events over a computer screen, but we believe that we can still utilise some of the incredible technology we have at our fingertips in order to recognise and celebrate our achievements.

So with that in mind, to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day on 8th March, Hire Space is offering a collaborative, interactive virtual experience to inform and educate your team on the history of this important date. This is the perfect opportunity to bring your employees together, regardless of gender, to mark this date by celebrating the wonderful women in our lives. The event includes a talk and Q&A with an inspiring speaker and change-maker in gender equality, as well as interactive workshops and a chance to discuss and debate in small groups.

This offers the perfect environment to encourage your team to ask questions, raise any issues and become more educated on gender equality so that you can bring positive change to your organisation and build on team solidarity. You can even treat your employees to food and drink delivery if you want to make it extra special; the experience is completely customisable to suit any team.

If you’re interested in finding out more or want to start planning your virtual International Women’s Day celebration, book a free consultation to get started.

I hope that whatever form it takes, you’ll celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day and that you, too, will choose to challenge.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube


International Women’s Day, Vanessa Vallely & Danny Wicks event featured

08/03/2021: International Women’s Day #choosetochallenge - What’s yours? | Danny Wicks & Vanessa Vallely OBE

International Women’s Day, Vanessa Vallely & Danny Wicks event

Join Vanessa Vallely OBE and Danny Wicks for International Women’s Day.

We will cover the barriers for women in the workplace, male allies, pay gap, women on boards & the importance of women’s networks. #choosetochallenge

REGISTER HERE

About Danny:

Danny WicksDanny spent the vast majority of his career as a mergers & acquisitions and business restructuring specialist.

In recent years, Danny has been pivotal in the restructuring of the UK’s largest bank and also leading the strategic change for one of the UK’s largest property companies.

He is a qualified Executive Coach and with his tenacious approach he specialises in guiding leaders at pace through the strategic change of their business.

Danny has a passion to get the best out of people and enable them to reach their own personal and professional goals.

About Vanessa:

Vanessa is one of the UK’s most well-networked women and has provided keynotes on on a variety of career related topics for over 500 companies worldwide. Vanessa is also one of the UK’s most prominent figures in gender equality and often provides guidance and consultancy to both government and corporate organisations who are seeking to attract, develop and retain their female talent. Vanessa was awarded her OBE in June 2018 for her services to women and the economy.

At the height of her successful 25 year career in the financial services, Vanessa launched the award winning WeAreTheCity.com in 2008 as a vehicle to help women progress in their careers. WeAreTheCity.com now has over 120,000 members and provides resources/conferences/awards/jobs to women across the UK. Vanessa is the also the -founder of UK wide diversity forum Gender Networks. Gender Networks (formerly The Network of Networks) brings together diversity leaders from 85 cross sector firms to share best practice on a quarterly basis.

Vanessa is also the author of the book “Heels of Steel: Surviving and Thriving in the Corporate World” which tracks her career and shares 13 chapters of tips to succeed in the workplace.

Over the past ten years, she has been named Women in Banking & Finance’s Champion for Women, Financial News Top 100 Rising Star, The International Alliance for Women Top 100 Women globally & Brummells Top 30 London Entrepreneurs. In 2015 Vanessa was in GQ UK’s Top 100 Connected Women and the Evening Standard’s 1000 Most Influential Londoners. Vanessa is a regular guest on TV and radio and also sits on the Government Digital Services advisory board.

Vanessa is also the Pearly Queen of The City of London, a tradition that has been in her family for over 100 years. She is an avid charity worker and sits on the board for for Cancer Research UK as one of its Women of Influence. Vanessa also sits on the Cententary Action Group founded by Dr Helen Pankhurst.

Keynotes and workshops include The Power of Profile, The Power of Mentoring, Speed Networking, Speed Mentoring, plus her Excel your Career workshop. Vanessa is also available as a panelist, facilitator and leadership development programme host. All talks can be tailored towards specific audiences.


Looking for more events or networking opportunities? WeAreTechWomen has a dedicated events calendar with thousands of different events to help broaden your network and learn new skills. We have also launched WeAreVirtual - a series of free webinars to help expand your learning online. 

Don’t forget, you can also sign up to our bi-weekly newsletter to keep up-to-date with our upcoming events and webinars. 


#ChooseToChallenge100: Meet our 100 incredible women choosing to challenge gender bias & inequality this International Women's Day

IWD #ChooseToChallenge100, Speakers (2)

Meet WeAreTheCity & WeAreTechWomen’s 100 incredible women, choosing to challenge gender bias and inequality this International Women’s Day.

This year will see the celebration of the 110th International Women’s Day.

IWD was first celebrated as an official international day on 19 March 1911. Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland were among the first countries outside of the US to mark the day. In 1975, during the International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women’s Day. Since 1996, International Women’s Day has focused on annual themes that enables supporters to unite for gender equality. This year’s theme is Choose to Challenge.

As part of our #ChooseToChallenge100 campaign, WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen asked 100 women to share their stories as to how and why they choose to challenge. Our campaign includes stories of challenge from CEO’s, Founders, Campaigners, Politicians, Charities and thought leaders, including June Sarpong OBE, TV Presenter, Diversity Expert & Award-Winning Author; Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President, techUK; Professor Sue Black OBE, Professor of Computer Science & Technology Evangelist; Andrea McLean, Broadcaster, Author and Co-Founder, This Girl Is on Fire; Amali de Alwis MBE, UK Managing Director, Microsoft for Startups; June Angelides MBE, Early Stage Investor, Entrepreneur, Speaker and Advocate for the Rights of Working Mothers; Debbie Forster MBE, CEO, Tech Talent Charter; Mivy James, Digital Transformation Director, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence; and Sheree Atcheson, Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. Never has there been a more important year for us to choose to challenge. The impact of Covid has been incredibly hard on women, bearing the brunt of extra childcare, losing jobs in greater numbers than men, being on the short end of governments support, especially for new mothers. The list goes on!

We also saw all gender pay gap reporting suspended in 2020, which was one of the only measurements of success that we had. A recent article in The Guardian cites that the impact of the pandemic could mean that we are at risk of putting 50 years of progress into reverse. Our voices need to be heard, and what better day to start to raise our collective voices than International Women’s Day.


Each day we will share the stories of three incredible women on our social media channels, culminating in one every hour on the 8th March.

We will also feature a number of these incredible women at our IWD event on 5th March – You can book your place here.

Watch some of our amazing women below:

June Sarpong OBE | TV Presenter, Diversity Expert & Award-Winning Author
Andrea McLean | Broadcaster, Author & Co-Founder, This Girl Is On Fire
Jacqueline de Rojas CBE | President, techUK
Professor Sue Black OBE | Professor of Computer Science & Technology Evangelist
Debbie Forster MBE | CEO, Tech Talent Charter
June Angelides MBE | Early Stage Investor, Entrepreneur, Speaker & Advocate for the Rights of Working Mothers
Sheree Atcheson | Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader
Amali de Alwis MBE | UK Managing Director, Microsoft for Startups

GET INVOLVED

We want to add your voices to this campaign so we can all be heard, everyone has a story to tell!

If you want to get involved in this campaign, you can record your own 1-2 minute IWD video and share with us on social media. Just tag us in on Twitter @watc_updates or @watc_wearetech or on Insta @Watc_HQ or tag us in on LinkedIn @WeAretheCity using hashtags #ChooseToChallenge100 #ChooseToChallenge

We can all choose to challenge, not just for IWD, but every day – Join the movement and help us to amplify the voices of women who choose to challenge.

We have also created an entire page on our websites dedicated to IWD. If you are looking for events, campaigns and celebrations to get involved in, please visit here. We are also happy to add your public events and articles to this page, just email details to [email protected]


#ChooseToChallenge100: WeAreTechWomen celebrate International Women’s Day by amplifying the voices of 100 incredible women

IWD #ChooseToChallenge100, Speakers (2)

This year on March 8, we will celebrate the 110th International women’s day. 

IWD was first celebrated as an official international day on 19 March 1911. Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland were among the first countries outside of the US to mark the day. In 1975, during the International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women’s Day. Since 1996, International Women’s Day has focused on annual themes that enables supporters to unite for gender equality. This year’s theme is Choose to Challenge.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. Never has there been a more important year for us to choose to challenge. The impact of Covid has been incredibly hard on women, bearing the brunt of extra childcare, losing jobs in greater numbers than men, being on the short end of governments support, especially for new mothers. The list goes on!

We also saw all gender pay gap reporting suspended in 2020, which was one of the only measurements of success that we had. A recent article in The Guardian cites that the impact of the pandemic could mean that we are at risk of putting 50 years of progress into reverse. Our voices need to be heard, and what better day to start to raise our collective voices than International Women’s Day.

To celebrate this incredible day, WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen have asked 100 women to share their stories as to how and why they choose to challenge. Our campaign includes stories of challenge from CEO’s, Founders, Campaigners, Politicians, Charities and thought leaders.

Hear more about our campaign from Vanessa Vallely OBE, MD, WeAreTheCity & WeAreTechWomen

Helen-Pankhurst-Writer-Womens-Rights-Activist-and-International-Development-Advisor-for-CARE-International
Helen Pankhurst CBE | Women's Rights Campaigner, Senior Advisor, Care International
Dr Shola Mos Shogbamimu | Lawyer, Activist, Founder of Women in Leadership Publication, Social Entrepreneur & Author
jess-phillips-featured.jpeg
Jess Phillips | Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley
Rosie Nixon
Rosie Nixon | Editor in Chief, HELLO! magazine
June Angelides
June Angelides CBE | Early Stage Investor, Entrepreneur, Speaker & Advocate for the Rights of Working Mothers
Deborah James
Deborah James | Campaigner, Broadcaster, Writer & Podcaster

Each day we will share the stories of three incredible women on our social media channels and websites, culminating in one every hour on the 8th March.

We will also feature a number of these incredible women at our IWD event on 5th March – You can book your place here.

Watch a sneak peek to two of our amazing women below:

June Angelides CBE | Early Stage Investor, Entrepreneur, Speaker & Advocate for the Rights of Working Mothers
Charly Young | CEO & Co-founder, The Girls' Network

GET INVOLVED

We want to add your voices to this campaign so we can all be heard, everyone has a story to tell!

If you want to get involved in this campaign, you can record your own 1-2 minute IWD video and share with us on social media. Just tag us in from 01 March on Twitter @watc_updates or @watc_wearetech or on Insta @Watc_HQ or tag us in on LinkedIn @WeAretheCity using hashtags #ChooseToChallenge100 #ChooseToChallenge

We can all choose to challenge, not just for IWD, but every day – Join the movement and help us to amplify the voices of women who choose to challenge.

We have also created an entire page on our websites dedicated to IWD. If you are looking for events, campaigns and celebrations to get involved in, please visit here. We are also happy to add your public events and articles to this page, just email details to [email protected]