International Women’s Day celebrates women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements and advocates for women’s continued advancement within these areas.
The past year has emphasized both how far we have come and how far we yet have to go.
Kamala Harris made history as the first female U.S. Vice President. Avril Haines became the first woman to lead the U.S. Intelligence Community. And, Kim Ng became General Manager of the Miami Marlins – the first woman in North America to manage a men’s team in a major professional sport. These women actively #ChooseToChallenge traditional gender roles in a professional setting.
At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic created a new challenge for working women. According to a McKinsey report on COVID-19 and gender equality, women make up 39 percent of global employment, but account for 54 percent of overall job losses due to the pandemic. Childcare burdens caused some women to leave their occupations permanently.
The past year’s unique challenges are layered on top of common biases – sometimes unconscious – women face at work. What can we do to make a difference?
- Learn more about gender equity issues and different forms of biases
- Support working parents, being flexible when appropriate
- Highlight female achievements and encourage capable women to seek leadership positions
- Connect women and men with female role models and mentors, exposure helps with the gender disparity
I am inspired by role models who #ChooseToChallenge, like Dr. Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space. She recently encouraged a 7th grade girl interested in a science career stating, “You have a right to be there. You have a right to participate. And you don’t have to ask permission.”
I am inspired by personal role models – I love that my 4-year-old niece dreams of being a basketball player or a doctor, and my 21-year old daughter has followed her passion for math and science by majoring in electrical and computer engineering. I am also inspired by my colleagues with children at home, who handle the added role of home schooling with grace and grit.
Despite continuing challenges, I have witnessed wonderful progress over my 40 years in the workplace and I am inspired by visionaries who continue to press for progress. In her Inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb,” Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, inspired and challenged us, “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”