This March 8, 2017 marks International Women’s Day. A day that helps to remind us of the existing gender gap and how much work is ahead if we really want to build a world full of inclusion experiences and leverage different perspectives.
This year’s motto is #beboldforchange. While all of us may hold their own definition of what a bold action for gender parity looks like, I had a look at the definition of “bold” from the dictionary:
“(of a person, action, or idea) showing willingness to take risks; confident, and courageous.”
Synonyms: daring, brave, valiant, unafraid, dauntless
Taking a bold action may seem like an easy thing to ask for, but it can affect deeply rooted values. I was not always daring or confident enough to push through when opposition hit. But I realized that I could not reach my ambitious goals by playing into the stereotype of a “nice girl” that wants to please everybody. It was a shift of mindset I had when moving abroad, far away from the rules, traditions and norms that I had grown up with. After the moments of deep culture shock faded, I began to understand that I had given myself the immense opportunity to explore the anonymous reaction of strangers to a more confident, courageous Me. I realized that if I couldn’t be everything to all people, I could just be me. Fully. Unapologetically.
But I still have my moments and pockets of doubt and lacking courage. This year’s IWD motto therefore also made me think of past situations where I should have been bolder, and less afraid to speak up on behalf of a woman or myself. Three examples came to mind:
- At a recent networking event of the energy industry, I was one of few women in attendance. While I was involved in an interesting and animated discussion with a fellow (male) attendee, another guests walked towards us. He reached his hand across to my conversation partner and started to introduce himself and ask a few questions, completely oblivious of my sheer existence. – Next time, I won’t be too baffled to have a response to offer.
- In one of the jobs I had starting out, there was an opening in the team after someone had quit their job. My manager pulled me aside and told me that – if I hadn’t been pregnant- I would have been the one to fill the managerial position. – Not sure if he meant it as a compliment, but I surely would have a better response now, than I had back then.
- At an exam, a female student explained the bias she faced in a male dominated industry internship. The co-examiner called her out for pulling “the gender card”. – I should have been bolder in my support for her.
To inspire you (and me) to be bolder in our career and personal life choices, I’ve collected sound bites from some of my female superheroes of the past and present (yes, you may share them if you want ;).
As an ally and supporter of inclusion, my favorite quote comes from the inspiring Maya Angelou, who reminds us that all the talk in the world won’t help the fact that it is the feeling we create within people that makes the difference.
Intrigued and want to read more?
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