Challenging the status quo – to identify new and better ways of doing things that add value to yourself, groups, organizations, etc.
I have always been the first person to challenge something when it is wrong. At an early age I started to recognize that I would be treated differently solely because I was female. At first, it was just having to have my room clean, and helping in the kitchen when my brothers did not. When I got older, I noticed that the boys had a later curfew and more freedom to do what they wanted. I was told not to sit a certain way, told not to behave a certain way, and to not use certain language because it wasn’t ‘ladylike.’
Don’t get me wrong, I had fantastic parents, and a great childhood. However, as I get older, I realize those types of ‘unwritten rules’ for women run rampant among our society, and they take a toll on our confidence and our voice. I also recognize that those rules do not stop when we turn 18, they continue to progress into our adult lives and into the workplace. I think many of us have experienced being interrupted, talked over, and questioned in our judgement. This realization led me to study Sociology in college to learn more about the way society conditions us to believe in the things we do. It was there that I learned the true scope of gender discrimination and bias. This information only fueled my passion for amplifying marginalized voices like those of women, and especially women of color.
I have been fortunate enough to work for two tech companies, including Spreetail, that highlight the importance of gender representation and gender bias. I was out of work for nine months due to Covid before I found Spreetail. To know that I am now working for a company who genuinely cares enough to take a stance on the circumstances and events that continue to take place in our society is inspiring. To be a woman in tech itself, is a way of challenging the status quo.
Our Inclusion Network PWR (Professional Women Rising) focuses on the experiences of those who identify as women. Our mission is to empower each other through the creation of a supportive community, dedication to equality and equity, and overall advocacy on behalf of women in the workplace.
This year for International Women’s Day we intend to continue to challenge the status quo. Making bigger deals, building strong relationships, and producing innovative ideas to make our presence known. We have teamed up with the larger community at Spreetail and joined the #ChooseToChallenge movement - an initiative to call out gender bias and inequality. Those involved were asked to take a picture with their hands held high to show they are up to the challenge.
It has been 57 years since Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited sex discrimination in employment. Women now actually make up more of the U.S. workforce than men do. However, women comprise only 9% of global corporate boards. A mere 13% of Fortune 500 companies have female CEO’s, and the wage gap shows that women continue to make 10-20% less than men in comparable positions.
When we talk about progress, we must also discuss the journey we are still on. I look at these stats and it is evident to me that there is still plenty of work to be done. I hope that by creating these inclusion networks, diversity training, and education, we are inching one step closer to truly becoming equal.