It is the beginning of 2017 and women still suffer from prejudice, gender inequality and misogyny, not only in their careers but also in their personal lives.
The President-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, is now the most powerful leader on the world stage and has shamelessly degraded the female body over the years and even openly discussed “grabbing (women) by the p—–.”
The male gender might start to think that what Trump does is acceptable – it will never be.
However, women all over the world united as one for the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. Activists showed up at the US Embassy in London to march in celebration of women’s rights, gathering over 100,000 women in Trafalgar Square, where the march ended.
Standard UK reported that “Women’s March on London was planned in solidarity with a similar demonstration taking place in Washington – and the rest of the world – in the wake of Donald Trump’s election victory.” Also, Elite Daily reported that “at least 3.3 million people participated in over 500 marches across the US.”
I often question myself what sacrifices do women have to make in order to have a successful career? And can we overcome gender inequality?
In November 2016, the successful actress Mila Kunis wrote an open letter about sexism. She expressed her feelings regarding gender bias in the workplace and wrote from her first-hand experience. Women all over the world experience gender inequality daily, either in their professional or personal lives.
“Throughout my career, there have been moments when I have been insulted, sidelined, paid less, creatively ignored, and otherwise diminished based on my gender.
“He [the producer] reduced my value to nothing more than my relationship to a successful man and my ability to bear children. It ignored my (and my team’s) significant creative and logistical contributions,” said Mila Kunis.
Women are sometimes discriminated in the workplace because of their personal choices in life. Women are not defined by the person they marry or by the desire to have children or not.
The Week UK recently reported that women working in the UK technology market still suffer from gender inequality in the industry. According to a new survey, in a poll of 500 women, “39 per cent said they had been denied a ‘significant opportunity’ at work because of their gender, 15 per cent had been asked if they were married at a job interview and 14 per cent were questioned whether they wanted children.”
Rima Sabih, a 21-year-old engineering student, has suffered from sexist comments and being looked down upon just because she was born a female.
“I’ve had two internships and both times I kind of felt like they were treating me differently because I am a woman, and almost undermining my intelligence.
“One guy was really sexist towards me at work, he said ‘I don’t trust you to not leave early for work because I am scared you could go and do your eyebrows, your nails or go shopping with your friends.’ He will never say that to the guy intern who I was working with,” said Rima Sabih.
The workplaces should have their foundation based on meritocracy, not gender. Alexandrina Iacob, a 45-year-old working mother of two, lost a lot in her early 30’s due to gender prejudice.
“I was overlooked for the work-field inspector job just because I am a working mother of two children. They considered that a man would be a better fit because he was not tied down; I had more responsibilities outside the workplace. Being a mother does not stop me from having a successful career, but sexism exists in the workplace still to this day,” said Alexandrina Iacob.
Bonnie Marcus, an award-winning entrepreneur and a successful businesswoman, is encouraging women to make themselves noticed, even though it might be a daunting thought. Bonnie helps women grow in their careers and workplaces, coaching them on how to climb up the ladder towards a successful career.
Many women are faced with rejection from potential jobs and not getting the recognition they deserve.
Veta Tiplea with a sad smile curving on her lips, being a single working mother of a 13-year-old girl, said: “They [the company] didn’t even let me test-drive the forklift. I have had my permit for over 25 years and I am known to be a careful and mindful driver. With this in mind, the company still chose a man for the job instead of me, because it required ‘manly’ skills.”
Bonnie Marcus explained that “Women face many challenges in the workplace. Businesses are still run by men, and women are often excluded from the power circles where decisions are made about their career. They face unfair work practices such as equal pay, gendered roles and bias about working women and working mothers. It’s not a level playing field and despite excellent qualifications, women are often overlooked for promotions, sponsorship, and special assignments.
“We also have our own internal barriers that sabotage our efforts to be successful. We hesitate to self-promote or engage in office politics. Our lack of confidence can result in not communicating with authority or speaking up in meetings. Our belief and comfort level that our work alone will get us ahead leads to a lack of visibility and influence which are critical for success.”
Being a woman in today’s society is like being the root from which branches, the ‘expectations’, bloom with every day. The responsibilities come with age and they never stop to chase you afterwards.
“We are constantly juggling different roles in our personal and professional lives. Our desire to please and nurture others can be in conflict with our ambition and our quest to find fulfilment in our own lives. As working mothers, we are constantly challenged about how to focus our time and energy and it often leads to burn out over time. Having built a successful career that resulted in running a national company, writing a book and having a thriving speaking and coaching business has not been easy and has come with many sacrifices. I would not have chosen a different path, however. I think my children profited from seeing their mother rise through the ranks and start her own business.
“I look back on the early days as a divorced mother of two young children and wonder how I ever built a successful career. It did come with sacrifices. It wasn’t easy juggling all the responsibilities and I always felt guilty that I wasn’t spending enough time with my children or that I had to leave work for an event at school or for a sick child. I sacrificed time for myself most of all and probably my health as well since I didn’t have great coping mechanisms for the stress,” admitted Bonnie.
At the end of the day, Bonnie Marcus did succeed, as did many women all around the world. She built up her own empire and brought up two children at the same time as being a single mother. It is not impossible; it just requires patience, passion, time, dedication and hard work.
With everything that is going on in the world at the moment, women, and not only, should follow Oprah Winfrey’s words of wisdom: “Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism.” and turn it into their life mantras.