Hi! How have you all been? It’s been A WHILE! Jane back here again and I can’t believe it’s already November which means… the holidays are right around the corner and 2018 is damn near almost over!!!
As the year slowly comes to an end and we make plans to catch up with our friends (both new and old), and our family (both given and chosen) over some spiced holiday cider (a personal favorite I finally learned 2 years ago) or copious amounts of wine (another obvious favorite of mine)… one conversation seems to always renew, recirculate and regenerate itself no matter what time of year it is: women in the workforce.
With that said, can we all take a serious moment to talk about the conversations that are being had about women in the workplace over and over again?
A little backstory about me: I’ve been working and making my own money since I was 15. Other than my college waitressing days, I’ve always worked in a very female-focused and female-centric environment. Whether that was in beauty, fashion, fashion-tech, or my now current position as the Editorial Director for The Chriselle Factor, I’ve always been a girl’s girl through and through and have always had way more girlfriends than guy friends.
Now, not many people know this, but when I attended UCI for my BA, I went to school to study Women’s Studies. I graduated in ’08 but lo and behold in 2018: women are still getting harassed, women still don’t get equal pay, and our rights are under attack. With the current administration, these tensions have only intensified, even as I’m seeing some opportunities open for my fellow women.
Throughout college, I remember people (mostly men) would somewhat mock or scoff at me when I told them that I was studying Women’s Studies. “What are you going to do with that degree?” they said. “Are you going to be a lawyer or something? You know that studying law is still a boys club, right?” BS, BS, more BS, etc. All of that shit talking really got to my head, but you know what? I had an amazing, wonderful, superstar professor named Professor Kim and to me, and everyone else in the Women’s Studies department, she was ultimate goals.
The hallways were always buzzing with how motivating, strong and uplifting she was. She graded us not on physical tests but with verbal exams. It would be a group of 10 or so of us in a room where she would individually ask us questions in which we would need to reply with intelligent, well thought out, articulated answers that proved we had been studious prior to the exam. She taught us that in the REAL world, you don’t get to just pick something off a multiple choice paper – you have to actually verbalize your thoughts out loud, communicate clearly, and prove your worth and your knowledge. That memory has been engrained and stuck with me ever since.
Professor Kim was a strong female figure and leader for all of us. She taught us that women can not only be educated, poised and confident but also be opinionated and strong; that our voices should not be shut down or intimidated by men given any challenges in the workplace.
Fast forward to now, and needless to say, I am the happiest I have ever been at a job. I’ve said this before, but having a boss that is a woman, a minority, empowers me and makes her own rules is such a driving force. Not only that, but to be surrounded by a GROUP of strong, uplifting women who encourage each other vs. break each other down is so amazing and special. But, I’ve found that it’s still so rare and uncommon. Why is that?
Before landing this dream job, in many of my previous corporate environments, the women were oftentimes pitted against each other. Frequently I encountered female bosses who suppressed my goals, both company-driven and personal, which led me to harbor anger and resentment towards them. I wondered: was I setting the bar too high for my female bosses? Was I overly critical of these women in a way that I wasn’t with men? The looming question I was always asked over and over again was, “Would things be different with a male boss?”
If I had done something really well, my former female boss would often take the spotlight versus giving me, her subordinate, any recognition and validation I yearned for and needed. Why is that? Perhaps I was more self-conscious with a female boss and had expectations for her to help and motivate me. I would often ask myself: how could I be a threat when they’re already superior to me in corporate ranking? Why didn’t they acknowledge my work and encourage me versus saying something like “good job, but next time try it this way” and pretend like they weren’t micromanaging me? Often bosses, whether women or men, can suppress your talent. Leaders should motivate you. Let’s change that narrative with each other.
Why is it that when women are strong-willed and competitive with one another, we’re considered “bitchy” but when men are competitive they’re considered “really forward thinking?” Let’s change that double standard. Let’s change that narrative.
If women are quietly getting things done, we’re considered weak. Why can’t we be silently strong? Why can’t we lead through work ethic and example? Let’s change that narrative.
If women have a strong opinion, we’re considered to be “too emotional or hostile” but when men have strong opinions, they’re seen as being “strong and forward?” Let’s change that narrative with each other.
Why are women taught to hate each other? Why do some women in higher positions of power try to suppress those females under them? Why do women still have a “there’s not enough pie to go around” mentality vs. a “there’s enough pie for everyone mentality?” Let’s change that narrative.
Women who are in higher positions of power and influence – hold yourself to a higher standard. Let’s do better for one another because we are able and we can. Although I’m nowhere near President or CEO, I will always lend a helping hand whenever I can, no matter what that looks like.
So what does helping fellow women look like?
- Minority women, in particular, can benefit from a coffee date or casual lunch. Go do that.
- Are you able to connect someone with a brand they love for a potential job? Send that intro email and help them out.
- Is it merely listening to someone and being there for them? Try that.
- Do you have a feeling that you should reach out to someone in need? Share your energy with someone and do it.
- Is it helping someone with their resume or helping someone get to a mindset where they feel empowered? Give them that time so they can regain their power.
- Is it donating to female-led organizations that are doing good for the community? Skip that $15 lunch this week and donate to something meaningful. You don’t need that overpriced coffee anyway.
- Prioritize how you communicate. Lead by example by not participating in hallway work gossip.
- What does support look like in the workplace? A lot of people are transactional with talk or networking and I totally get it (time is money, right?) but let’s change that narrative. If someone’s reaching out and you can impact their lives in a positive way, do it. Be genuine in your actions and pay it forward.
I often talk about this ultra-supportive group chat I have with my girlfriends where we are always honest, supportive, insightful and there for each other and realize that a lot of people don’t have that in their lives. Every woman in this group chat is of a different background, independent, strong, powerful, honest and an extremely vital component to my community and mental health. We each give our own unique perspectives to one other when we’re going through a problem or hard time and it’s so special. I am so thankful for this because we women are always stronger when we come together. It’s magical. ✨ If you don’t have a solid groupchat, let’s start a conversation below and be a positive influence amongst each other.
The road has been long and windy but I’m grateful for what I’m experiencing right now. For every person, (female or male) that has helped me get here, I thank you for being part of my evolving journey. In return, I promise to return the favor and pay it forward by continuing to practice what I preach.
Let’s change the conversation amongst ourselves and support each other, especially in the workforce. Speak up for things that impact you or the women around you, especially the disenfranchised. Use your voice. Empower one another. Lift each other up. There’s enough for everyone.
“Here’s to Strong Women. May We Know Them. May We Be Them. May We Raise Them.” -Unknown
Lastly, don’t waste your voice or power. If you live in the US, exercise your PRIVILEGE to vote! Women were allowed to vote ONLY 98 YEARS AGO! We’ve come a long way but there is still a lot of work to do.
Do your homework and show up to the polls 11.6. If you need more information, check out this Voter Guide here.
If you missed my Comfort is a Privilege piece, click here
to read it!
What are your thoughts/feelings on women in the workforce? @ me and let me know. Let’s start a conversation! And, if you need someone to talk to, DM me: @janesaisquoi
Photography by Karla Ticas