International Women’s Day: A Celebration of Trailblazing Women

Friday the 8th March is International Womens Day and the theme for 2019 is Balance for Better, a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world and particularly in the workplace. 

In celebration of the progress women have made around the world and in the name of levelling the playing field, we bring you five trailblazing women who have shattered traditional stereotypes in several male-dominated industries.

Here’s our top five:

Sam Bremner, Rugby League Player

Back when Sam Bremner was growing up (she’s 26 now) there weren’t any girls teams for rugby league. This proved to be a very jumpable hurdle for Bremner, who started her own team aged 19 after seeing an ad for a local women’s competition.

After 10 months of playing, Bremner was scouted by the NSW women’s coach to play for state, At first, Bremner declined, worrying that she wouldn’t live up to the position. “Ironically, my mum, who was hesitant to let me play as a kid, drove me to my first game,” she told Marie Claire. Now having played for Australia’s Harvey Norman Jillaroos for seven years, Bremner is considered one of the country’s best players.

The male-dominated game has changed a fair bit since Bremner was first starting out. This year, the NRL is introducing a women’s competition and Harvey Norman has launched Team Harvey Junior to encourage young girls in sport. For the first time, girls will be able to see women playing rugby league on television. “If 12-year-old me had that, I think my journey would have been different.”

Janaye Ingram, Tech Superstar

By day, Janaye Ingram is the director of national partnerships at Airbnb. By, um, the rest of her day, she is the secretary and logistical coordinator for the Women’s March, a pretty impressive feat, especially considering tech and activism might not be considered the most natural match.

Formerly a consultant in Washington and the national executive director of the Civil Rights organisation National Action Network, and now killing it in the tech world, Ingram knows what it’s like to be the only women in the room. “Being a Black woman in tech, oftentimes you’re the only one in the room, and with that comes a responsibility to ensure you’re not the only one for long,” she said in an interview with Refinery29. “You’re representing your race, you’re representing women...it’s a lot of responsibility.”

Chelsea Lauren, Red Carpet photographer

Much like the Hollywood top dogs, red carpet photography is still a relatively male-dominated space. In front of the camera, or behind it, women are facing the same issues: fighting to get their voices heard.

Chelsea Lauren first started as a red carpet photographer nearly a decade ago, as one of the only women photographers on the red carpet. She has since photographed stars including Gina Rodriguez, Heidi Klum, Michael B. Jordan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend Salma Hayek, Anna Kendrick, Dev Patel, Garrett Hedlund, and the list goes on. Today the scene is slightly more female-represented, but according to Lauren, remains at around 70% men.

Claire Smith, Baseball Writer

Claire Smith was the first female Major League Baseball beat writer and last year she became the first woman — and fourth Black writer — voted into the writer's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame as the first female recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for "meritorious contributions to baseball writing."

Thirty-five years ago, Smith began covering the New York Yankees for the Hartford Courant. She went on to work for the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer and is now a coordinating editor at ESPN.

In an interview with Refinery29, Smith described what it was like to enter the male-dominated field of sportswriting. "It was heady, it was really kind of scary, but it was also what I wanted to do... it was exactly where I wanted to be," she says.

Smith’s most talked about career moment is probably not being allowed in the locker room to interview players following Game 1 of the 1984 National League Championship Series, but she is determined to be remembered not for that, but for influencing the next generation of women in sports media.

"It makes me very proud to have these young ladies come up [to me] and say that [I influenced them]. I hope that down the road they’ll turn around and see a long line of folks who followed them as well, and it's not the end or the middle, just a long line of giving back," she told Refinery29.

 

Victoria Schein, Research Engineer at Ford

Victoria Schein has always been mad about cars, specifically designing them. At a young age, she would ‘draw cars, cut out pictures from magazines and make collages on [her] wall.’ So after her junior year at Smith College, it only seemed natural that she would try to get an internship at Ford Motor Company.

Now a research engineer in Product Development in Ford's College Graduate rotational program, Schein is making her mark in the industry and working to promote women in STEM initiatives. The 23-year-old already has nine patents to her name; her work has included a geotagging device that alerts drivers about anything dangerous in their path.

As a woman without a driving license, Schein is bringing a whole new perspective to the industry. "[Ford] doesn't have a lot of perspective from someone who's always a passenger or a pedestrian trying to get to work safely," she said in an interview. "When I'm thinking of solutions without a license, I'm thinking about how I can help anyone get where they need to go."

Here's to another year of smashing glass ceilings!