In the UK, imagery and language about women in work tend to focus on the experience of just a few – typically, white women working in corporate roles – whilst reinforcing unrealistic expectations of what it is to be a woman who works.
The reality is that women are not one homogenous group. Women do not all share the same experiences and challenges. They do not all have the same perceptions, simply because they are women. Our experiences at work are influenced by multiple aspects of our identity, such as race, age, sexual orientation, class, gender identity, disability, income, culture, religion, and health. Our sex or gender may be the same, but our identities, our successes and our struggles are different.
Through this project we want to bring to life the concept of intersectionality. This is a way of understanding the intersection where different parts of our identity meet and how this can result in different, unique experiences – both good and bad. Intersectionality means that a black woman’s experience of the workplace may be different to that of a white woman. A middle class woman may face inequality, but it may differ from that of a working class woman. A disabled woman’s experience of exclusion may not be the same as that of a woman who is not disabled.
If we are to achieve equality between men and women in positions of power and influence and across society as a whole, it is crucial to understand the barriers to equality that all women face. Unfortunately, the experiences of many women remain unheard. Through our Same But Different project we want to change that.
This exhibition uses stunning imagery alongside narratives to share the stories of those women whose voices are often least heard, challenging the ways in which working women are portrayed in the UK today. This is an ongoing digital project that provides a platform for all women to tell their unique stories. Alongside the stories of the women featured in the portrait series, Business in the Community will continue to gather stories from women everywhere, about their identity and what it really means to be a woman who works.
It is time for women everywhere to make their voices heard.
The Same But Different project is made possible with headline sponsorship from Bupa, and supporting sponsorship from Shell.