Over 100 years later, #IWD2023 embraces equality and the translation industry is an excellent example of how an industry has evolved to become more inclusive and, here at least in the UK, it is largely female led, giving women equal opportunities to grow and succeed.
Hannah Stacey, Head of Operations at Surrey Translation Bureau (STB), observes:
“I love that our industry is so naturally diverse: as linguists, we embrace different languages, cultures and backgrounds, so I’ve never felt that my voice was less valid or that I’ve had to work harder to be successful. It’s how every industry should be.”
A brief history of women in translation
Pre 20th century, there were stark imbalances in the opportunities and rights to work for men and women, and the translation sector was no different. According to the book, Translators through History:
“While translation was seen as one of the few socially sanctioned ways of writing open to women during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, (…) women were restricted to the translation of religious texts [and] when the work of a woman translator was published, it was often anonymous.”
Even with the restrictions and lack of opportunities, a few inspirational female translators have stood out over the years, who worked on complex genres, such as classical and technical texts that only men were translating in their times. These outstanding linguists of the past included: