The women of Harvard

Ellie Thompson

09 Mar 2020

When it comes to who I admire and draw inspiration from I have always been someone who has looked to the women in my own life as opposed to famous, renowned women because they feel too remote and honestly too intimidating for me to apply my own challenges and experiences to. My inspirations have been the women who brought me up and who taught me I could be anything I wanted because they themselves forged their own way in the world; the friends who despite getting knocked down, keep picking themselves up with a smile on their faces; and the women who have been my career role models and coaches and who have given me nothing but encouragement and room to grow. So when I stopped to think about who I admire right now, at this point in my career, I came very quickly to the conclusion that it is the women I work with every day – the women of Harvard. Every one of the 43 women I work alongside at Harvard, without exception, is inspiring, creative, talented and strong. I have learnt so much from so many of them. And when I am lucky enough to get to know more about what motivates and drives these women, my admiration grows tenfold. Without exception, we have all faced (and still do) our own individual challenges, demons and fears – whether in our careers or personal lives – and yet what results, and what I see evidence of every day is positivity, strength and drive. There are so many occasions in the office when I have stood back in awe of what someone is capable of doing, of overcoming and what they have achieved and that both humbles and inspires me. But what I admire even more than the individual awesomeness of the women at Harvard is the collective force that we are. The fact that every single day I see examples of women supporting, championing and leaning on their female colleagues. The sometimes small acts of encouragement and celebration that build another woman up. And I feel incredibly lucky to work in an environment and with women where that is the norm. International Women’s Day asked everyone this year to think about what they would do to forge a gender equal world. My personal belief is that this starts with, and will only ever truly happen, when women see each other equally – when women lift other women up and actively empower and enable each other. This is what I see happen all the time at work and it is why I admire the women of Harvard so much. And in response to the call to action from IWD2020, let’s commit to doing it even more. Let’s be even more open and share our experiences and our challenges so we can learn from each other; let’s always celebrate and shout-out the amazing work we all do; let’s challenge and call bullshit on inequality when we see it;  And let’s lean on each other for the support and solutions we are looking for when we need them.