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Why “Athena Professional”?

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Ever had to name a company?

As a founder it’s a challenge that has to be met.

The world is at once your oyster – any and all names are on the table – and it is also constrained by the fact that someone is more than likely to have got there before you and nabbed the domain name.

When I co-founded Athena Professional in 2013 my daughter was ten years old and had discovered goddesses. A good friend had given her a beautiful hardbacked colour picture book of all the goddesses. I loved that book too. The idea of feminine power expressed in any guise always interests me. The truth will out: women have always been leaders.

Themis, goddess of justice, had been snapped up long ago as a business name. Those of you who are older might also remember the “Athena” shops which sold posters on practically every high street back in the 1980s.

Their most famous shot was of a beautiful blonde woman tennis player, walking away from the camera, the corner of her dress hitched up as she scratches her naked bottom. Chances are, even if you weren’t born then, you know that gorgeously contradictory image of propriety and nudity. When I picked on Athena as our namesake, I decided we’d have to take that connection in our stride. It goes to the heart of the patriarchy’s obsession with sex, whatever the circumstances.

So why did we go with “Athena”? She is the Greek goddess of war and wisdom, known to the Romans as Minerva. She stood for strength, intellect and order. She was also known for her compassion for those who had fallen in war. Symbols of Athena appear on government buildings, courts and universities all over the world, including on the US Army Medal of Honor.

Our business values are summed up as: reason, courage, compassion.

It seemed a good fit.

What’s more, Athena has an interesting origin story.

Her father was Zeus, king of the gods, and her mother was Metis. After Metis became pregnant, Zeus learned that the child would be more powerful than him. Naturally, that caused him to eat Metis. This resulted in a headache which was only resolved when Athena emerged as an adult from his head.

What a fascinating tangle of power and creation!

There is something about this story which speaks to me.

The power of women will not be thwarted.

The power of women will emerge.

Whether it is the ferocious courage of the women in Iran who dare to show themselves, the tenacity of women who feed and care and work in testing circumstances all over the world, or the vision and drive of the visible few, the strength and beauty of one half of the population is always evident.

It would be naïve to think that women have an equal role in any workplace. Women are now permitted to work widely in many societies, but the structures and culture of the vast majority of organisations are informed by 2000 years of patriarchy.

As the critical mass of women grows, in law and medicine for example, we shall see how they influence and shape the future.

No matter what your gender, I feel hugely optimistic about how things may play out when everyone exercises reason, courage and compassion.

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