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International Women's Day 2021

International Women's Day

The theme of #IWD2021 focuses on #ChooseToChallenge, celebrating women's achievements, raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality, all of which these women below have done and continue to do.

Rejane Dal Bello

Kerrie: I’m celebrating Rejane Dal Bello

Why? Rejane Dal Bello is a globally renowned graphic designer, illustrator and visual branding consultant with a career of more than 20 years spanning four countries. I was first introduced to Rejane when I went to hear her speak at Ulster University a few years ago and was so inspired by her activism as a designer and a person. Her mission is to create meaningful work that can have a positive impact on society. Rejane is not afraid to tear up the rule book and be more experimental and her work evokes a strong emotional response. In her book ‘Citizen First, Designer Second’ she reminds us that “We look at images everyday. So as designers, we are not just in the business of creating pretty pictures. We are expanding people’s abilities to see the world in new ways, beyond what is simply in front of their eyes”. This is seen in the work she did for the Dutch Alzheimer Foundation where her own social conscience, empathy and courage allowed her to create something truly unique that deals with a very difficult and sensitive topic. It is one of my favourite pieces of design, it's so powerful and memorable. Check her out at

Whitney Wolfe Herd 

Laura: I’m celebrating Whitney Wolfe Herd 

Why? Whitney Wolfe Herd has been front and centre of the news cycle recently for taking start-up turned internet dating giant “Bumble" to the stock market. At 31, she is the youngest female CEO to take her company public and she celebrated the milestone surrounded by her team and family. Bumble made it's debut with an opening price of $76 per share, overshooting their target price of $43 per share and cementing Wolfe Herd's stake of $1.6 billion. 

Whitney’s success is a timeline charted by milestones which include launching her first business when she was 19 and co-founding Tinder at 22 before the conception of Bumble in 2014. Following the buzz (pardon the pun) around Bumble’s floatation, several reporters have commented that they regret judgments made about a young and optimistic upstart they assumed would achieve mediocre success in a saturated market. 

Whitney is my International Women’s day icon because she believed in her own ability to succeed and never let up the pace of her ambition. She leads with instinct, resolve and uncompromising kindness, both towards herself and her staff. 

Quote from Whitney: “If your gut tells you that you are doing a good job, you are doing a good job.”

Paula Scher

Katri: I’m celebrating Paula Scher

Why? Paula is one the most influential graphic designers of all time. She is the master of typography, who is behind some of the most recognisable global brands.Since joining Pentagram New York office in 1991, Paula has created iconic identity systems, brands, environmental graphics and much more for clients such as The Public Theatre, Microsoft, Museum of Modern Art and Bloomberg - to name a few.Paula weaves fine art and influences from pop culture into her work, making it instantly recognisable and impactful. She has paved the way for women in the design industry, and she truly is an icon. Her work continues to influence and inform designers of all level in a very tangible way. 

She has been, and will always be, my ultimate designer crush!

Quotes from Paula: “Words have meaning, type has spirit.” 

“I don't think of design as a job. I think of it as - and I hate to use this term for it - more of a calling. If you're just doing it because it's a nice job and you want to go home and do something else, then don't do it, because nobody needs what you're going to make.” 

“It's through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.” 

Olga Tokarczuk

Marcin: I’m celebrating Olga Tokarczuk

Why? Olga is a Polish writer, essayist, and activist. In 2019 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her novel ‘Flights’ won the Man Booker International Prize in 2018. In her books, essays, and public lectures she often raises questions about women's rights, respect for diversity, and approach to nature in modern, consumerist society. She doesn’t lead any company or organisation however, she is a very important voice in heated ideological discussions in her native country and inspires many to express their views and defend their rights.

Quote from Olga: "I write books to present new perspectives, to make people realize that what they think is obvious is not so obvious, that you can look at a trivial situation from a different angle and suddenly reveal other meanings and levels."

Tracy Edwards MBE

Joanne: I’m celebrating Tracy Edwards MBE

Why? Tracy Edwards won international fame in 1989 as the 24 year old skipper of the first all female crew to sail around the world in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race. The boat, Maiden, won two legs and came second overall in her class. Edwards, a kind of nautical entrepreneur and CEO, oversaw a crew of 12, helping them to overcome such challenges as 32,000 miles of open sea, life-threatening 50-foot waves, fund-raising nightmares and a near-mutiny. Not to mention the barrage of personal and media attacks the crew endured as they attempted to stake a claim in the “man’s world” of competitive sailing.

Tracy is now a motivational speaker, author and charity founder. She is the very epitome of internal strength and focus and facing your fears on so many levels. 

Quotes from Tracy: “When men said it couldn’t be done, this all-women crew of sailors said, watch us.” 

“The ocean’s always trying to kill you. It doesn’t take a break."

Flight Lieutenant Ellen Ripley

Mark: I’m celebrating Flight Lieutenant Ellen Ripley

Why? She was the first and is still the best female action hero.

Special skills: Assembling and using various weapons, PowerLoader licence, rocks a baldie (the 3rd film), reincarnation (the 4th film), general badassery.

Quote from Flight Lieutenant Ellen Ripley: "This Is Ripley, Last Survivor Of The Nostromo, Signing Off” 

Corrie Ten Boom

Corey: I’m celebrating Corrie Ten Boom

Why? During World War II she and her family harboured hundreds of Jews to protect them from arrest by Nazi authorities. After being betrayed by a fellow Dutch citizen, Corrie and her entire family were imprisoned, thankfully she survived. Corrie displayed an incredible capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness when she set up a rehabilitation centre for concentration camp survivors and ex Nazi soldiers. She also set up a Christian ministry that took her to more than 60 countries around the world to share the good news of the bible. She wrote a book about her life called ’The Hiding Place’ it is a bestseller as well as a fascinating and humbling read.

Quote from Corrie: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God”.

Kathryn Bigelow 

Adam: I’m celebrating Kathryn Bigelow 

Why? Kathryn is the director of films such as The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty and Point Break. In a male-dominated Holywood, she has managed to break the mould and is an inspiration for both male and aspiring female directors alike. Kathryn manages to bring a human element to a genre that would usually struggle to balance action and drama, films like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty being perfect examples. She is the first (and, yet, only) woman to win either an Oscar or a BAFTA for Best Director. 

Quote from Kathryn:“If there’s specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can’t change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies.”

Angela Ahrendts

Maeve: I’m celebrating Angela Ahrendts

Why? Angela is former SVP Apple retail, CEO Burberry. Before she was at the helm of Apple's retail division, Ahrendts turned once-stale British trench coat brand Burberry into a global fashion force. She sits on the boards of Ralph Lauren, Airbnb and advertising giant WPP and is one of the world’s most high-profile business executives!

Quotes from Angela“I grew up in a physical world, and I speak English. The next generation is growing up in a digital world, and they speak social.”

“You have to create a consistent brand experience however and wherever a customer touches your brand, online or offline. The lines are forever blurred.”

Nicola Beauman

Kathryn: I’m celebrating Nicola Beauman

Why? Nicola Beauman is the founder of female fiction publisher and bookstore Persephone Books. In 1998 Beauman made it her mission to give a voice long-forgotten female writers whose thrilling works were originally lost to the circumstances of the time and their gender. Her humble beginnings began with a mail-order service, publishing a handful of "lost" or out-of-print books every year. After a few years Beauman set up her Persephone Books store, a physical shop nestled in the heart of London’s West End dedicated to this cause - it is almost entirely dedicated to overlooked works by female writers of the mid-20th century. Over 20 years later, her business is a forerunner in the field of women’s fiction. 

Published by Persephone in 2000, “Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day,” a 1938 novel by Winifred Watson became an unexpected hit for the company, was made into a movie starring Frances McDormand as Miss Pettigrew and brought the business international attention. With somewhat of a cult following, Persephone Books has garnered global attention by an eager literary audience with an appetite to discover these hidden gems. 

Nicola Beauman is my International Women’s Day icon because she has used her quiet but far-reaching success to empower the creative voices of women who otherwise would have been lost to time.

Quotes from Nicola: "It seemed so strange that an enormous body of fiction should influence and delight a whole generation and then be ignored or dismissed,”

"It soon became clear that those novels which school, university and critical dogma had chosen to ignore were, to me, infinitely greater and more memorable than those which had for so long and so regularly appeared on reading lists."

Brenda Chapman

Elsa: I’m celebrating Brenda Chapman

Why? Story telling through her art is has been Brenda’s lifelong passion. Brenda drew from a young age and always knew that she wanted a career that would allow her to continue drawing. Taking art classes where she could, after which she went to an art school with an animation programme. She graduated with a bachelor in Fine Arts, landing a job at Disney with her short films. Brenda worked on many Disney classics, including 'Roger Rabbit', 'The Little Mermaid’,’Beauty and the Beast'. Later she worked as the head of story for 'Lion King'. Brenda then left Disney to help launch a new company: DreamWorks Animation Studios where she co-directed the 1998 film: 'Prince of Egypt'. She became the first woman to direct an animated feature film for a major Hollywood studio. In 2003, Brenda joined Pixar Animation Studios as a senior story artist to work on ‘Cars’. She worked up the ladder till she directed her own film, ‘Brave’ which feature Pixar’s first female protagonist. Brenda then continued on to consult and develop films for several studios including Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Universal, Sony, Lucasfilm and Fox. Brenda and her husband are attempting to start their own production company and are involved with several ongoing films and productions. 

Quotes from Brenda: “I feel lucky everyday to have been given the chance to have a career in which I can express myself through my art- and share that passion and knowledge with others."

Nora Twomey

Ciaran: I’m celebrating Nora Twomey

Why? I had the pleasure of seeing Nora talking at Offset Festival in Dublin two years ago and was very inspired by her work and achievements. She is partner and creative director of Cartoon Saloon an Irish animation studio based in Kilkenny. She has worked on a number of animated features including The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea, The breadwinner and Wolfwalkers to name a few. Cartoon Saloon has received Academy Award, Golden Globe, Bafta and Emmy nominations, which is no surprise as the work is beautiful and the stories are incredible. 

Margaret Calvert 

Andy: I’m celebrating Margaret Calvert 

Why? I have a passion for information design since studying Margaret Calverts work at University on standardising the UK’s road network signage back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Her design principles on simplicity and continuity have stuck with me and still influence my design work today. Margaret Calvert is still designing today and has been head of design at The Royal College of Art and was made partner at Kinneir Calvert Associates where she did her iconic work on road signage.

Further reading

Whitenoise team celebrates World Book Day! 04-03-2021

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