By Marie Gardiner – Being a woman in business, being a woman doing something ‘different,’ or heck, sometimes just being a woman, can be a step off a high ledge into the unknown. But what if you knew there was someone to catch you?
Websites and organisations aimed at women can sometimes slip into something dated and reductive. Lou Omer from The Guardian described them as ‘pink ghettoes for the opinions we’re permitted to have.’ Dialogue around historic trailblazers and serious issues has long been reserved for men, and although we have often banged upon the door, we still find ourselves lacking a seat at the table.
Many people aren’t necessarily seeking out specific stories of women, but even those of us who are can struggle to find them in the mainstream media unless we’re looking exclusively for articles about parenting struggles, or the latest diet and exercise regime. Cutting through the endless white-noise of mediocrity are a few, rare gems. One of these is Women You Should Know.
I became aware of WYSK some years ago, and would regularly drop in to read the interesting and inspirational stories published on their website. Last year, I had become frustrated with the casual sexism in photography and decided to write an article about it called Women And Photography: Why You Should Give A Damn. I was approached by WYSK who subsequently published it on their site. Previously, the reaction to my article, around the largely male-dominated photography forums and websites, was overwhelmingly negative and dismissive. I’d expected it, this wasn’t my first rodeo.
I wondered what the reaction would be when presented to the WYSK audience of almost half a million – a large percentage of whom were women. I braced myself for another onslaught. The notification icons appeared on my phone: tweets, comments, emails. They were mostly from women, thanking me for my piece, saying they’d had a similar experience, inviting me to hidden women-only groups on social media sites, and generally just wanting to connect.
The existence, growth, and survival of organisations like Women You Should Know, is essential. By supporting us, by making us aware of each other’s existence, Jen Jones, Cynthia Hornig and the WYSK team raise us up, but perhaps most importantly, give us the ability to raise ourselves and lift our heads above the parapet.
In building these communities, we are no longer asking for a seat at the table, we’ve created our own, and the door is open.
About The Author
Marie Gardiner is a photographer and writer based in the north east of England. After completing her degree in Film & Media, she worked in media for several years as a broadcaster and web manager. Mostly, she writes educational photography articles and courses for a number of well-established, international companies but she also takes on bespoke commissions for articles and blog posts.
Marie’s first book, Sunderland, Industrial Giant: Recollections of Working Life, was published in November 2017 by The History Press and centers on the area in which she was born and grew up.