International Women’s Day 2024

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we hosted a variety of initiatives across our global offices this month, including speaker sessions featuring accomplished women in STEM, charity events, as well as external partnerships to inspire conversations around gender equality.

In Sydney, we had an inspiring conversation with Aude Vignelles, CTO of the Australian Space Agency (ASA). Aude is a space and aeronautics system engineer, who started her career at the European Space Agency (ESA) in the Netherlands. She became a source of expertise for the test campaign of all scientific programmes run by ESA from their early phase, such as Rosetta. She has lived in Australia for the past 23 years, where she leads the National Space Capability, Technology and Programs branch at the ASA.

Aude Vignelles, Australian Space Agency’s Chief Technology Officer

During the session, Aude shared her impressive career journey in STEM and her passions that led her to the space industry. She also explored why it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day. In particular, she discussed the significant drop in females who end up pursing a career in STEM industries (refer to statistics below), as well as how we can help demystify STEM and build a more inclusive and accessible workplace for all genders.

The session was livestreamed to our APAC offices, enabling employees across the region to join and engage in the session.

Statistics from the Australian Department of Industry, Science and Resources

In London, we had the privilege of hosting Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, a Computer Scientist and co-founder of the social enterprise Stemettes. Dr. Imafidon, with her extensive background in promoting STEM careers among young women and non-binary individuals, shed light on the importance of early engagement through initiatives like the Stemette Certification Academy, which has played a pivotal role in making STEM more accessible.

Dr. Imafidon shared insights from her own remarkable career, offering strategies for overcoming societal and professional hurdles. Her approach to challenges as opportunities for problem-solving emphasised the importance of an agile mindset, continuous learning, and building supportive networks. The evening concluded with a Q&A session, offering Optiver employees a unique perspective on fostering an inclusive environment.

In Amsterdam, we hosted an interactive panel discussion with leaders from across Optiver’s London and Amsterdam offices under the theme “Breaking barriers and biases”. The event also welcomed Donna de Haan, a D&I consultant, and Jody Samuels Ike, Global Brand Director for Gordon’s Gin at Diageo and co-lead of Diageo’s employee resource group for Race, Ethnicity & Cultural Heritage, REACH.

The discussion, which was streamed live to our London and US offices, delved into the topic of women’s career development and the collective efforts needed to break down the barriers to their success. This engaging session offered Optiver employees the chance to interact with leaders, share their own workplace challenges, and discuss how to better support one another in their professional growth.

Amsterdam’s panel event on ‘Breaking barriers and biases’

In the US, this Women’s History Month was about amplifying the voices of women within the organisation. The Optiver US Women’s Network coordinated a “Leading with Impact” panel discussion, led by five female leaders who shared their experiences and advice navigating the challenges of male-dominated fields like technology and finance. Through their narratives of breaking barriers and fostering inclusive environments, the panelists offered invaluable insights under the guiding principle: “Be brave, not perfect.”

In addition to the panel discussion, the Women’s Network added a splash of creativity to the mix with a watercolor workshop. This event brought together women across the firm, painting a vibrant picture of unity and learning.

The US’s panel event on ‘Leading with Impact’

In APAC, we hosted a charity auction in our Shanghai office to support the New Sunshine Charity Foundation’s breast cancer initiative, raising funds and awareness for women’s health. Our Singapore office also hosted a charity morning market to support the Gladiolus Place, a sanctuary for young girls who have faced various forms of trauma and adversity. In addition, we packed necessity boxes, which were donated to the organisation, helping these young individuals rebuild their lives and work towards a brighter future.

Shanghai’s charity auction

Optiver’s Amsterdam office also hosted a charity pub quiz to raise funds for Timon House, a vital support house for single mothers and their children. The event also served as a call for action, encouraging employees to volunteer their time and contribute to improving the facilities at Timon House, offering a tangible way to make a difference in the community.

In Amsterdam, Optiver also partnered with Women in ETFs, Euronext, UN Global Compact Network Netherlands, and UN Women Nederland for International Women’s Day 2024. The event featured a full-day agenda with insightful talks, a bell-ringing ceremony to open the trading day, and discussions on the importance of mentoring and sponsoring programs for advancing gender equality. Additionally, two Optiver employees joined the event, engaging in these vital conversations and networking to support and empower women in finance.

For more detailed insights, refer to the UN Global Compact Network Netherlands’ recap: Change the system, not the women – recap International Women’s Day 2024.

UN Global Compact Netherlands partnership

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