Today is International Women’s Day 2021 and whilst a lot has been done to even up things between the sexes, there is still so much more that should be done. That’s why the International Women’s Day 2021 theme is #ChooseToChallenge.
“A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.
We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.
From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge”
– International Women’s Day 2021
Interesting fact, did you know that it was only in 1990 that a woman’s income ceased to be taxed as if it belonged to her husband? Going back to the Income Tax Act of 1918, women were treated alongside infants and the mentally insane and their income was their husbands. It took until 1950 for that reference to be removed but it wasn’t until the 1988 budget that the then The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, announced that married women would at last have the same privacy and independence in their tax affairs as everyone else.
“I have decided to introduce, at the earliest practicable date, April 1990, a completely new system of independent taxation. Under this new system, a husband and wife will be taxed independently, on income of all kinds. All taxpayers, male or female, married or single, will be entitled to the same personal allowance, which will be available against all income, whether from earnings, pensions or savings.”
– Nigel Lawson, Chancellor, 1988 budget statement transcription
(Random fun fact: 1988 was the last budget not to be televised)
Ecommerce has perhaps fared a little better than the rest of the world in terms of equality. In 1998 Meg Whitman became the first CEO of eBay and ruled the company as President and CEO until 2008. The UK has seen two woman run eBay – Clare Gilmartin (Currently CEO at Trainline) ran eBay UK from 2010 to 2014 and Tanya Lawler took the helm from 2012 to 2016.
Amazon on the other hand are only on their second CEO and seeing as the founder Jeff Bezos was CEO for 25 years there hasn’t been much chance for women to jump in… maybe their third CEO will be a woman?
The real thing about ecommerce however isn’t the leaders but the opportunity. When I purchase on the Internet I mostly have no idea if I’m buying from a woman or a man, a straight person or gay or other, or a national or an immigrant. It really doesn’t matter.
What does matter however is that although the Internet doesn’t discriminate, the underlying infrastructure often does. With a tax system that didn’t even recognise that didn’t even recognise a woman’s income until 30 years ago and still many remaining inequalities (e.g. Child benefit paid usually paid to a mother can still be clawed back from her husband’s income if he’s a high earner!), women in ecommerce are still succeeding despite the challenges, not just because of the opportunity.
I’ve personally met many amazing women who have set up and scaled their own marketplace businesses and today, International Women’s Day 2021, is a time to celebrate each and every one of them (waves to Vicki, Rachel, Shazina, Melissa, Jade, Jane, Kelly, Corrine, Alix and the countless other women running fantastic businesses).