Real stories from real women #IWD2022
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) is #BreakTheBias.
There is a detailed report on Women in the Workplace that LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company issues each year. It’s based on research from 423 companies in the United States & Canada. Participants are from the private, public, and social sectors. And over 65,000 employees from 88 companies were surveyed.
The report describes the states of women in corporate America. How the representation of women has improved, but progress is uneven, and women are burned out. How women are rising as stronger leaders, but their work is going unrewarded and is underrecognized.
Here are some of the findings:
Women leaders are putting in work that drives better outcomes for all employees
Women are twice as likely to spend time on DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) that falls outside their formal job responsibilities, and more likely than men to take on allyship roles such as mentoring women of color and actively confronting discrimination.
This work is driving better outcomes for all employees. When manager spend time on supporting employee well being, employees are happier with their job, less burned out and less likely to consider leaving the company.
Despite this, women in leadership are more likely to face microaggressions at work.
And unfortunately, while all women are more likely than men to face the above microaggressions that undermine them professionally, many women of color experience them at an even higher rate.
So, what are companies doing about it?
The report reveals that top-performing companies are more likely to hold senior leaders accountable for diversity goals and to provide financial incentives for progress.
The best way to create inclusive company culture for all women, was senior level sponsorship and high employee engagement. Companies are investing in reducing bias in hiring, training all employees (at all levels) to increase awareness, and sharing data on the experience of women in their organization.
Real stories from women we know.
At AXSource, we asked real women from different walks of life to share their experience with bias. I encourage you to take a good read and remember, that this is now. The issues are real and here. And they deserve our attention, acknowledgement, and best effort for improvement.
- As a mother, wife, daughter-in-law, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, or friend trying to socialize and have fun in my free time, there is a tendency for the men to pass along their dirty dinner dishes to me to take them to the kitchen. Respectfully, I have risen to be more than equal to my accomplished male counterparts in my life still to deserve this treatment. Why? I don’t give my dirty dishes to them. Is it that men do not want to feel “humiliated” taking dishes to the sink? Is it simple a task? Is it menial? Is it reserved for women? Let’s #BreakTheBias and not treat your loved ones like this.
- Back in the early 1980’s, no women worked at the Beer Stores in Ontario. I was only 20 at the time. My neighbor down the street asked me if I wanted a job working at the beer store. I asked him why he was asking me to work for him. He said all beer stores had to hire a woman and since he knew me, he thought I would be a good worker for him. So, I took the job. I was one of the first women hired in Hamilton to work at the beer store! Working at the beer store was a tough and hard job to do. There was heavy lifting involved, I had to use a pallet jack to move pallets of beer to the fridge or pallets of empty beer bottles to the back warehouse, etc. I didn’t mind doing the job since I was young and able to do the work. I learned how to balance the cash register and learned how to deal with difficult customers. I even carried out cases of beer for the elderly men. Customers would walk into the beer store and question why are women now working at the beer store? They would say, “it’s a man’s job.” Well, I did a good job working there and was often called from other beer stores to work shifts for them when they were short staffed. It was an experience. And today, it is very common to see women working at Beer Stores everywhere!
- I have been very fortunate throughout my career since I haven’t had to face gender-bias very often, and certainly not in recent years. My approach has always been to deal professionally with the people I work with and leave personality issues out of it. Does this mean I roll over easily when dealing with difficult professional situations? No, absolutely not! I pick my battles carefully, but refuse to compromise my ethics, and use the experiences and knowledge gained throughout my career to help those I work with. As for my own personal beliefs, I hold them close to me and don’t discuss them with professional associates. If necessary, I can listen to and respond to people complaining, but only to ensure that our professional relationship remains intact.
- At a previous job, I was the only one woman in our team who drove a car/scooter. My colleagues used to always tease about women driving to demotivate me, always chitchatting on women driving cars and accidents. I used to keep quiet and not pay any attention to such comments. I’m very helpful in nature and would often carpool and take colleagues home if we were on same route. One day, there was a situation here in Mumbai, India – trains weren’t working and everyone was in a panic since bus routes were long and taxis were delayed due to heavy traffic. One gentleman, who was always purposely teasing and passing comments, came to me for a drive in my car. When he saw me driving confidently, obeying traffic rules and using swift driving skills, it seemed he did not know what to say or what not to say. He simply stated, “you are great, there are very few exceptions for female drivers”. I responded by saying this is not for exceptional cases, very little motivation is needed for each woman to realize their capabilities, they just need a few words of encouragement. At that time, I remember the words of Sir William’s Golding: “I think Women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men, they are far superior and always have been”.
- At a previous company, I once received an email where a male colleague referred to me as ‘honey’. I was furious but I didn’t know what to do. If I addressed it, would he say I was making a big deal out of nothing? If I don’t, would I have to sit with my anger? Girls spend so much time in their heads wondering about the best option for them. The option with the least retaliation, the option that can’t get turned back onto them being the ‘bad guy,’ the option that won’t hurt their career or perception of them. It’s a waste of energy! We should feel free to assert ourselves and our self-respect.
- I come from a country where females are worshipped; however, at the same time she is the one suffering the most. On this IWD, I would like to share a story of an iron lady in my life: my mother, my real life “SHERO” is the one who changed my life for better by not giving in to societal pressures. We were two daughters born to this strong lady and right from our birth she had to face society for giving us our basic rights. When we were of schooling age, our relatives started pressuring my mother both emotionally and financially by saying “Why do you want to waste hard earned money for girls when they are going to get married and go anyways?”. Everyone tried to advocate all the possible reasons to get us admission in vernacular school. However, my rock-solid mother was determined. She was ready for any kind of challenges that come her way. We finally got admission in an English medium school. Since then, for the next 10 years my mother strived hard to teach us the language without tuition and managed to get us through professional degrees. Ironically, in our family, from all 10 cousins from the paternal side, my sister and I and one of our cousins are the only ones who earned professional degrees. Upon getting professionally qualified, the same relatives said that it is good to have professional degrees, but never try to compete with a man financially, especially your spouse. These things do not matter to us now. My mother always believed that working hard can change anyone’s fate. She also strongly emphasized to everyone to teach girls to be financially independent and confident in taking decisions. This IWD, I salute the anchor of my life, my mother, who paved the way for my success.
- We as women are always taught to be excellent in domestic affairs. However, in today’s world, we are equally expected to earn as well to lead a slightly better than average life. I was doing well professionally and earning a good amount with respect to what is expected of girls. To be more specific, I was earning at par with many boys of my age. However, like most ambitious girls these days, I lacked the skill of being an expert in domestic chores. I never thought that this self-pride of being a support to my future husband could ever be a problem to the society. As always, to make things look terrible we always have our near and dear ones. When I was looking for prospective grooms, there were times when the proposal did not work. A few of my concerned relatives would blame my mother, they said it was because of her that I was not getting good proposals. They even taunted that my mother never taught us to be good at household chores. Being rebels since childhood, my sister and I would confront the relatives that the decision to get married does not lie solely with the groom. As a prospective bride, I have the right to choose, and I would prefer marrying a person who understands the importance of sharing all the responsibilities equally. We were taught the life skills for survival; however, we were never pushed to be an expert into something we were not keen on doing. My mother has always advocated that a man should know as many life skills as a woman should know about earning money. One cannot expect a woman to be an all-rounder and every woman should follow her dreams without any guilt. Today, I owe my success to the strong foundation and mindset, I have grown up with!
Whether or not you experience these issues, it’s important to take a step back and reflect on how we address them as a community. At work, at home, and in our personal lives. Trust me when I say, women are thinking about these experiences and what to do about them all the time.
Women are advocating for themselves and others, or quietly fighting in their own way. It is incredible that we are over 135.6 years away from closing the gender gap worldwide. This number goes up or down depending on where you look. The gender gap in Political Empowerment? 145.5 years. The gender gap in Economic Participation and Opportunity? 267.6 years to close2. But then again, if you take a look at real-life stories is it really so surprising?
Today, on #IWD we encourage everyone to listen and learn about the bias women face.
If you’re not aware or do not understand, education yourself.
If you want to help but don’t know how, ask someone.
If you see gender bias in action at work or at home, say something.
At AXSource, we are proud to celebrate #IWD2022 and share what we’ve heard from the women in our community. We will do whatever we can to #BreakTheBias and encourage you all to do the same.
Happy International Women’s Day!
- Women in the Workplace 2021 Report by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company
- World Economic Form, Global Gender Gap Report, 2021