Over the years I have found myself being more and more faced with the reality that
I am a woman.
It’s not that I just woke up one day and realised that this is the case. But the more I progress in my career, the more I watch my friends who are mothers make rapid changes to accommodate their new title of motherhood and the more I am out numbered in meetings with my superiors, the more I realise that I am in fact a woman.
Being a woman is something I take great pride in. Something I would never change. But increasingly I see the barriers before me simply because I am a woman. For many, in today’s society, being a woman is hard. For a while I thought people who thought like this were just dramatic. But the more I am confronted with the hard facts that I get paid less than my male counterparts, get ignored in meetings and in some cases get spoken over, the more I understand why for some, being a woman can be daunting.
I have watched myself be overlooked and shut down mid sentence simply because a voice with a deeper base than my own has something “important” to say. I have attended panel discussions and repeatedly the men possess 70% of the conversation. For the 30% that the women are given the opportunity to speak, the men (not all) tend to engage in a separate discourse or have minimal engagement.
Growing up predominately around men, I can hand on heart say that this is not something that I experienced until I got to the workplace. And so even when the above was happening, I would dismiss it as an isolated event because all my life, my gender never limited me. But then. the trend became something I could no longer ignore.
Without realising it, these things I witnessed began to have an impact on how I behaved in particular settings. I went from challenging ideas and voicing my knowledge on an area, to waiting for my turn. A turn that in some cases never came. Since when did I need permission to have a voice? My confidence began to take a knock and the second guessing myself began.
I finally get it. I get why in 2018 companies are forced to look at pay gaps. Why we celebrate international women’s day by putting together motivating and confidence boosting events. We do it because women still have to fight. And even the most confident of us, doubt our abilities resulting in us accepting the boxes we have been placed in instead of owning who and what we know we are.
As a person who works in the area of diversity and inclusion and has done for years, I am still so shocked by the differential treatment of different groups within the workplace and in society. But based on how I am as an individual, I never thought that I too can be affected by the issue of gender. With this new found concern, I began to challenge myself to believe in my sauce and my source. Below are a few tips that have helped me along the way:
- no matter how many times you get cut off, say it.
- Change your perspective from no one values my opinion to everyone wants to get there point across. A lot of the time we think men are over powering but some times what it really is, is them voicing their opinions over someone who has also cut them off.
- unapologetically stand by your worth. If you were not suppose to be in the room, you wouldn’t be there!
- know your rights. It is against the law to discriminate and it is also against God’s word for you to be passive! If you believe you are being treated unfairly, stand up and speak out.
- If HR or line management would rather keep you hush than protect your wellbeing, then that organisation is probably not for you. But while you are there, take care of yourself and do good with a smile on your face.
It has been a few months now and I can honestly say, that although the challenge still exist, I no longer allow it to limit me. My advise to you is to remember that no matter what, you have what it takes to achieve greatness. Your gender is not a limitation.
Until next time x