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Days of note, Diversity  |  08 March 2019

International Women’s Day 2019.

Susie Wolff, Racing Driver
Maya Angelou, Writer, Civil Rights Activist, Singer
Caroline Lucas, Member of Parliament
Kris Hallenga, Founder of breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel & Motivational speaker
Jane Austen, Author
Dame Jane Goodall, Primatologist & Anthropologist
Elizabeth Diller, Architect
Frida Kahlo, Artist

75% of our team at Kiss House HQ is female & just under 50% of the wider team — quite unusual in the construction industry!

Today we’re all (women & men alike) celebrating International Women’s Day & some of the team have nominated a woman they find inspirational. We found the theme for this year: “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change” particularly relevant to us.

It focuses on promoting gender equality and empowering women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. As we’ve highlighted previously women are massively under-represented in architecture & construction!

We wanted to recognise the challenges that women have faced over the centuries and celebrate the achievements that have helped to bridge the gender gap.

We’ve compiled a list of inspirational women from a diverse range of backgrounds, from history & the present day. Each nominee has also explained why they made their choice.

Susie Wolff, Racing Driver

nominated by Ruby Narborough

I met Susie Wolff about 4 years ago at Silverstone and we chatted about the importance of female role models for young girls.

I still think we have a long way to go in educating girls about what they can aspire to and this is particularly relevant in male dominated industries.

For me, Susie was a shining beacon in a sport that is still so male dominated and she’s freaking awesomely fast!

Maya Angelou, Writer, Civil Rights Activist, Singer

nominated by Aalia Bhatti

Maya Angelou is one of my heroes. I was so inspired by her after reading ‘I know why the caged bird sings.’

She has overcome adversity in so many forms. She is not afraid to speak out when something is wrong, even when it is dangerous to do so. She was discriminated against because of her colour and gender yet she never gave up.

She found inspiration in the words of her beloved grandmother & lived by & often repeated her advice, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

She is a great role model for everyone. She had achieved so much and truly inspires me.

Caroline Lucas, Member of Parliament

nominated by Adrian James

Aboard the ship of fools that is our parliament she is a beacon both of sanity and of vision.

Her cause is utterly necessary, she presents it lucidly and brilliantly but also keeps it grounded and pragmatic.

She is a model of how good an elected representative can and should be, when all the rest induce only hand-wringing despair!

Kris Hallenga, Founder of breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel & Motivational speaker

nominated by Mike Jacob

I heard Kris Hallenga speak at last year’s Do Lectures. She did the whole lemons into lemonade thing in a very (very) pure, authentic and inspirational way.

“Childhood cancer” was the 2 word entirety of Stephen Fry’s argument against the existence of a benevolent creator.

Kris provides evidence that human spirit can overcome pretty much anything, however so inflicted and that the power of this enlightened approach shows us all the way.

Powerful simplicity in the face of adversity… a shut up get on with it to the micro-obsessed among us…  incredibly inspiring!

Jane Austen, Author

nominated by Hilary Wilson

I love Jane Austen’s novels! Her satirical observations are packed with detail about the lives of late 18th century landed gentry, such as how women of the time navigated their way to finding the right (or wrong) husband.

Written at a time when women were generally expected to be wives and mothers only, Austen’s witty social commentaries are a source of constant joy to me.

I am forever grateful to her for giving these stories to the world.

Dame Jane Goodall, Primatologist & Anthropologist

also nominated by Hilary Wilson — who just couldn’t decide between these two worthy nominees!

Dr. Jane Goodall helped blaze the trail for women in science and conservation. At 84 she continues to travel the globe encouraging people to take positive action on wildlife conservation issues.

I am passionate about conserving our natural world and was inspired at a young age by Dr Jane’s work and teachings.

One of my favourite quotes is,

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Elizabeth Diller, Architect

nominated by Ben Davies

Historically, with her partner Ricardo Scofidio — she was blurs the boundaries (literally and metaphorically) between art and architecture. Projects like Jump Cuts fascinated me at architecture school as they hinted at an augmented digital future (which is now here, nearly).

Projects like Blur Building, played with atmosphere within and outside buildings.  And more recently she was behind the super successful High Line in New York.

Right now she’s about to bring an incredible new cultural building ‘The Shed’ to New York, and has just had the go ahead for a project at the London School of Music, so we’ll see her practice’s work over there soon.

So, why her?  She is a visionary, successful designer in what is historically a very male world.

She’s interested in the power of culture to positively affect society and cities — she “did a deal with the devil” to get so much cultural space within a commercially driven development in New York!

Frida Kahlo, Artist

nominated by Carli Jordan

Frida was a great inspiration to me when I was at art school & her story & spirit always resonated with me. I was reminded of how much recently when I visited Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up at the V&A. It was a beautiful exhibition that sold out, was extended & sold out again attracting people wishing to play homage from all over the world!

I was struck once more by the power & spirit of this diminutive woman with a ferocious intellect, who had the courage of her convictions, a deep sense of self / identity and a uniquely indomitable style.

I’m sure every Frida fan has their own take on her appeal but for me it comes down to her ability to turn pain & adversity into strength to lead a purposeful, value led life.

Here ends our tribute to some of our favourite women on International Women’s Day. We want to send big love to them & all of the amazing women of the world.

Kiss®, Kiss House® and the Kiss House makers mark are registered Trademarks of Kiss House Ltd.

Photo credits:
Susie Wolff, Ruby Narbrough
Maya Angelou, Time
Caroline Lucas, The Independent
Kris Hallenga, Today News
Dame Jane Goodhall, US Magazine
Liz Diller, Financial Times
Frida Kahlo,

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