For some, women are celebrated every day; we celebrate our mothers, our sisters, our daughters and our partners but far too often when a woman doesn't occupy a central position in our lives it becomes easier to act as less than an ally, less than a friend & to treat women as less than equal.
This is why it's important to take a moment on International women's day to make sure we are doing everything we can to act in service of not just our loved ones but every woman across the world.
Recent studies show just 25% of the Tech workforce are women and just 3% are Black women. Why are the levels of representation so low? How can increasing the visibility of this demographic inspire more women to get into the Tech space? We wanted to take this opportunity to explain how we as colleagues can support women in the work environment, and more specifically the Tech space.
How can I be a better ally to women in the workplace?
Becoming an ally to women in the workplace is key to undoing centuries of oppression and unequal opportunities. Let’s challenge some of the common stereotypes:
1. According to a McKinsey report ‘While all women are more likely than men to face microaggressions that undermine them professionally—such as being interrupted and having their judgment questioned—women of color often experience these microaggressions at a higher rate.’ The reality is some women are overlooked unfairly and in order to make sure her ideas are heard she must be assertive, this is not aggression!
2. Watch your language! Some expressions that we use everyday come from an era where it was seen as the norm for women to be less than equal, you must understand this and adapt your speech especially whilst in the workplace. A female friend telling you they don’t mind inappropriate language does not give you a pass!
3. Complimenting a work colleague's personal appearance, may be a good way to build a connection, but it could actually be blurring the lines between professional and personal relationships. Some may be ok with ‘you look nice today’ although more specific comments like ‘i like your jeans’, are generally inappropriate. How you say it and the tone are important, whether or not you have built a relationship or rapport can be the difference between offence being taken or not. However you look at it, the reality is complimenting a female friend on their personal appearance can invite other people to do the same and so we must lead by example.
4. Although a woman’s menstruation cycle can lead to symptoms such as exhaustion, fatigue, uncomfortability etc. This is a private matter medical matter and unless shared with you there really is no reason to bring it up or comment. PERIOD!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but doing your part, starts with DOING something atleast.
Happy international women’s day people!