- March 8, 2022
International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year’s theme of #BreakTheBias highlights the need to support achievements that empower and enable the wide spectrum of women that make up this world.
“Imagine a gender equal world.
A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Together we can forge women's equality.
Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.
Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day.
We can break the bias in our communities.
We can break the bias in our workplaces.
We can break the bias in our schools, colleges and universities.”
We’ve seen improvements in recent decades in areas like hiring, pay transparency, reviews and career progression. A study by the AnitaB.org Institute found that as of 2020, women made up 28.8% of the workforce in tech – up from 26.2% in 2019 and 25.9% in 2018.
Still, we have a long way to go before we achieve parity. Inequality and inequity are built up from the foundations of society, so there are no quick, easy, or one-size-fits-all answers to breaking the bias. As we make advancements to increase diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, it’s vital that we don't limit ourselves by thinking and acting only through our own experiences.
When I approach an idea or issue related to women in tech, I try to ask myself, “How can I take this a step further?” and explore my initial feelings, thoughts and reactions through the lens of intersectionality. My personal perspective (and my initial ideas around what progress might look like) does not inherently match the reality of all women.
Intersectionality, in short, means that not all privilege or marginalization is the same. The combination of a person’s various social identities (gender, race, sexuality, religion, etc) contributes to the specific modes of oppression and discrimination they experience. For example, while women make up 28% of the tech workforce, only 3% of those women are Black, 7% are Asian or Pacific Islander, 2% are Latina, and an overwhelming majority are White.
So how can you think outside your own experiences to support the advancements and achievements of women in a way that considers intersectionality?
The internet and social media have played a critical role in amplifying women's voices and connecting them between communities and across the globe. There’s never been a more information-rich environment as widely accessible as there is now. Ask company stakeholders for the time, investment and support you need to dedicate to self-education. Take it a step further and propose company-sponsored forums for sharing what you learn and inviting others to join.
Seek out voices and perspectives that are different from your own.
At Happy Cog, we created a Women's Network group aimed at fostering meaningful conversations and experiences, keeping intersectionality at the forefront. We organize team activities that give us the opportunity to serve ourselves, renew our energy and broaden our mindfulness. We have a Slack channel and an ongoing book club where we encourage open dialogues, discuss experiences outside of our own, and ultimately learn from one another and grow together.
Amplify voices that aren’t as easily or frequently heard.
Individually, we can, and should, speak up to demand that workplace stakeholders take meaningful efforts to break the bias, but not everyone has the platform or access to directly impact things like hiring and pay transparency. We can each do things to better enable women's voices no matter our position, but when those with a platform invite everyone else in, our voices become stronger together.
Having an open forum that doesn't just focus on elevating women in general, but seeks to open us up further and nurture a consistent mindset of intersectionality, has organically led to an impact on our everyday experiences outside of the women’s group.
When it comes down to it, the more women at the table, the better.
As a part of our women’s group, we host events that connect us with organizations dedicated to accelerating women’s equality. Our partnerships with other organizations, like Technovation and The Global Fund for Women, help us broaden our experiences and deepen the empathy and understanding we’ve worked to grow through our team activities.
The more we use our voices, the more we develop them together – and the better we’ll be in raising them to the level of impact we want to see. A level where women's voices are heard, valued, and have the ability to influence company culture and realities beyond the workplace.
What do women in your workplace do to educate, collaborate and speak on breaking the bias?