BLOG – Celebrating female role models for International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day gives us the opportunity to take a moment to appreciate the successes and challenges of women throughout history and across the world.
With this year’s theme ‘#BreakTheBias’, we’re encouraged to discover how bias, discrimination and stereotypes can lead to an uneven playing field for women.
One way in which we can challenge these biases is by acknowledging the accomplishments of females.
Stepping into the spotlight are three Leeds Rhinos Netball players, Rhea Dixon, Jade Clarke and Vicki Oyesola, who recognise the need to spread the word on gender inequality, and how to combat this.
Which woman do you admire the most?
Rhea, who plays in goal attack for the team, said: “Female athletes and successful women who have not had easy paths to success inspire me the most. The further I get in my career, the more I realise that everyone faces obstacles, however it takes a special kind of person to have enough belief in themselves to carry on working hard towards their goals.”
Vicki, co-captain of the team, added: “Serena Williams; she has had incredible success in her sport and has challenged stereotypes along the way.”
Jade plays centre and wing defence positions and also co-captains the team alongside Vicki. She mentioned: “Dame Kelly Holmes inspires me. I loved her book; she never gave up on her dream. After many setbacks, she won two gold medals and inspired the nation.”
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Rhea: “Celebrating the success of all women, whatever that success looks like to them. Whether it is in sport, business or personal – we are proud of the women who have gone before us, the women we are today, and pave the way for other women and girls in the future.”
Vicki: “It’s a chance to reflect on the power that women have to impact their environments and celebrate the achievements of women across all communities.”
Jade: “To me, the day is about celebrating all the amazing female role models we have. It’s important for me to remember all the wonderful women who helped me achieve my goals.”
How do you think we can break the bias in sport?
Rhea: “Keep fighting for equality and professionalism across women’s sports. We’re doing a great job in getting better resources and exposure, but there’s still a huge gap between men and women’s sports. We can break the bias by continuing to showcase the skill, strength, fitness, flair and everything else that female athletes work so hard for.”
Vicki: “Getting more people to watch women’s sports live on TV so they can understand and respect it.”
Jade: “We can help to break the bias by supporting women’s sport. In order to drive more interest, we must continue to raise the profile of talented sportswomen.”
What advice would you give to a woman wanting to pursue a career in sport?
Rhea: “Enjoy the hard work just as much as the success. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t.”
Vicki: “Sport is for everyone – don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.”
Jade: “Go for it! Grab every opportunity to practise as much as you can, find the best coaches to work with, be open to feedback and push yourself by playing against people at a higher standard to yourself.”
Why is it important for more young women to get involved in sports?
Rhea: “I have made some of my best friends and had some of my most cherished moments in sport. I’ve also learnt so many invaluable life lessons through playing.”
Vicki: “Not only can you make friends and keep fit, but it offers an environment where young women can escape and enjoy being active.”
Jade: “It’s such an amazing lifelong passion to be involved with. It’s great for health, making friends and having a support system.”
What are the benefits of pursuing a sport like netball?
Rhea: “There’s nothing like playing a team sport. It’s fantastic to be able to do what you love, while being supported on and off the court by people with the same drive and passion as you.”
Vicki: “Netball is unique as a female-dominated sport, and there’s a definite feel of belonging to a community.”
Jade: “Being part of a team and working towards a goal with like-minded people. It’s a sport for life and accessible to players of all levels and strengths.”
In a bid to raise the profile of positive female role models and to help develop underrepresented sports, Leeds City College is working in partnership with Leeds Rhinos Netball.