International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all over the world. I don’t know whether it’s hearing the speeches, reading about the campaign, or seeing an ‘allwomen@hotcourses’ email pop up in my inbox telling me how great I am, but this year, International Women’s Day seems more important than ever. As editor at Hotcourses, I have and will always question the gender stereotypes in education and STEM subjects in particular – something we strive to change in our content and interviews alike.
Yet on a day of celebration, I’ve decided to look back on some of the interviews and interviewees that have inspired me most – four ladies who are definitely worth their title of ‘Hotcourses Women of the Year’.
In a world of Instagram filters and perfectly photoshopped models, my chat with Linda Papadopoulos reminded me that there is far more to women than the face we choose to show the world. What started as an interview about her career as an academic psychologist became an eye opening discussion about the female body issues society often chooses to ignore.
Linda believes these issues are ‘down to the fact society has become more visual.’ With the rise of apps such as Instagram, young girls ‘engage with [their] appearance in ways that we never did before... [they] are actually being conditioned to focus on what [they] don’t like about [their] bodies – looking for mistakes to fix’. Ending our interview with the words ‘I love my lip-gloss and my highlights and I think that’s great, but I love my PhD a hell of a lot more’, Linda Papadopoulos is one Hotcourses expert who really made an impression.
Not many girls go from novice to Olympic champion in four years, but Helen Glover did just that. A true sporting hero and one of the faces of the London 2012 Olympics, Helen helped put British female rowing on the map, alongside her partner Heather Stanning. Now ranked as the second best female rower in the world, I was keen to find out more about what this meant to her. In a few words, it meant a lot; ‘women’s sport in general is going from strength to strength. The interest and participation levels are very exciting and this is definitely reflected in the rowing world. It means a lot to me that we can be part of the history of women’s sport.’
One of our more recent interviews on the site, when I sat down to talk to Julie Wood, the gender imbalance in civil engineering and STEM subjects as a whole was top of our to talk about list. As runner up in the Cosmopolitan ‘Women Achiever of the Year’ award, and finalist in last year’s Building magazine ‘Women of the Year’ award, Julie is just that – a rule breaker. More than happy to talk about her career in a predominantly ‘man’s world’, Julie spoke about the importance of encouraging more young women into civil engineering – ‘I think we need more high profile females in the public domain, and an improved education of the careers service about the vast opportunities there are for women.’
Last, but certainly not least, how could I not include Rebecca Adlington. A lady who needs no introduction, the four time Olympic medal winner was one of our most inspiring interviews to date. With her sights set on inspiring the next generation, Rebecca (just call me Becky) told me when it comes to success ‘you have to love what you do. Your heart has got to be in it as you need that drive and passion to put in all those hours of hard work, dedication and determination!’ Ending the interview on words to live by, Becky adds ‘always believe in yourself no matter what. Even when times are really tough, if you believe you can do it then you’ll find the strength to move forward and achieve your dreams.’
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that all the men and women I have interviewed for Hotcourses have been awe inspiring in their own way. But on International Women’s Day, whether you want to be a psychologist, an Olympian, an engineer or a swimmer, we’ve got the courses to help.
Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.