Disruptors 3: Women Challenging The Status Quo

“I am a disruptor because I am not afraid of failing. The world tells us that we need to have a plan and be sure that we know exactly how we will achieve particular goals but I don’t think this is true. I think we can be brave enough to trust our instincts and follow where our hearts lead us without necessarily knowing whether it will work out. That is part of the beauty of life. ”

Catherine Joy White

The third issue of our magazine-book series Disruptors: Women Challenging The Status Quo launches on International Women’s Day – March 8th 2024. In its pages, we feature over 60 women, each a disruptor defining what that means on her own terms.

This issue features women such as Emma Dabiri, Dr Charlotte Proudman, Anna Bateson, Justine Simons OBE, Annika Allen, Vanessa Vallely OBE, Sarah De Lagarde, Dame Stephanie Shirley, Margaret Miles-Bramwell OBE, Morven Christie, Emma Wills, Emmie Faust, Mandy Sanghera, Leah Brown FRSA, Delyth Thomas, Yvonne Harrison, Patsy Stevenson, Munira Wilson MP and many more brilliant women.

“I had to work for free and juggle two paying jobs to cover my bills when starting.  Even when I did manage to secure a role, I would often be one of very few women, and usually the only Black person and the only one with a regional accent. I had to learn to embrace that feeling of responsibility to be in rooms where no one looks like me and fully show up as my authentic self, which was tough.”

Annika Allen, Head of DEI All3Media.

This issue dives into the intimate tales of victory, personal and professional achievements, and societal shifts. It casts a spotlight on trailblazers from varied realms—leaders catalysing change, unsung heroines, and fearless innovators.

“My life wasn’t destined to be remarkable, and I didn’t always go by the name ‘Steve’ Shirley. I began as Vera Buchthal, the younger daughter of a professional family in Germany. However, the onset of the Third Reich saw my Jewish father dismissed from his job shortly after my birth, marking the start of challenging times.”  

Dame Stephanie Shirley

“Being a disruptor has been innate within me since an early age. I challenged the status quo, questioned norms, and resisted being labelled as dyslexic or ADHD, often unjustly labelled as ‘stupid’. Instead of succumbing to these notions, I pushed myself even more to improve, gaining knowledge and expertise not just in theory but also in practical application, prioritising the well-being of my patients, friends, and family.” – Emma Wills

Every narrative within “Disruptors” is a potent proclamation from women of various backgrounds and industries. They are united by their audacity to face and redefine the conventional, effecting change that reverberates in communities and extends further.

Historically, women’s stories have been overshadowed, with a mere 0.5% of recorded history dedicated to their narratives. Our series, and Violet Simon at large, are on a mission to rectify this imbalance.

I have learned to view any obstacles in life as an opportunity to learn and to embrace new experiences even when that is being fired or made redundant (which has happened to me three times) or realising you have made a terrible choice in your career (joining a culture that is entirely at odds with your most fundamental values). – Anna Bateson, CEO Guardian Media Group.

Addressing a spectrum of issues from feminism to neurodiversity, this issue also continues to champion the term ‘disruptor’—often perceived negatively—to underscore its necessity. Disruptions precede changes; they are the seeds of societal transformation.

“Despite facing obstacles such as being the only female, a person of colour, and often the youngest at board tables, I persevered. Others underestimated my expertise due to a lack of conforming to the typical corporate look or my distinctive accent. Now, my current challenge lies in managing my work-life balance at 50 and expecting a baby while leading a practice with high expectations.” – Gail Goring.

“I have been told that my dreams and ambitions should take a back seat because society believes I am moving too fast and doing too much. I have been advised to slow down, as becoming too powerful as a woman would make me less appealing for marriage. These outdated notions need to stop so that women can soar higher and not be limited based on gender.” – Maudlyn Akosua Awuku.

Each story is woven with resources and profound insights, crafted not only to leave a lasting impression but also to drive the discourse on women’s issues forward, amplifying female voices and asserting their rightful space in society.

“I navigated college despite facing immense challenges and the constant death threat from a relative. I experienced homelessness with my child but persevered to secure shelter for us. Medical diagnoses compounded my hardships—fibroids deemed incurable and a prognosis that I could never conceive again, coupled with developing an eating disorder. Despite these adversities, I pursued higher education, studying health and social care at university and relocating to a different city.”

Naomie Praise Kabasele

Get your copy of “Disruptors: Women Challenging the Status Quo.” Join us in a celebration of the indomitable spirit of women who are not afraid to shake the very foundations of our world.

Get a copy of Disruptors Issue 3 here.

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