On March 8th, we celebrate women. International Women’s Day is a day to fight for equity. We not only fight for equality for women at work, but in all parts of society.
The past year has thrown light on latent inequalities we imagined to be in the past. Women have been particularly hard-hit by the challenges of the pandemic, with nearly 3 million women forced out of the labour force in 2020. Why?
Childcare responsibilities still disproportionately fall to women and with schools closed, mothers have had to choose between taking care of their children and showing up to their jobs. This trend also reflects persistent inequalities in pay; women at work are still more likely to have a lower-paying job than their male colleagues and thus are the first to leave the workforce in crisis.
Women’s jobs are not only lower-paid; they are also more precarious. Women at work face a significant level of inequality in comparison to men. In December alone, 156,000 women’s jobs disappeared while men gained 16,000. Black and Latina women were the hardest hit. This is because the industries that saw the greatest job loss during the pandemic — education, hospitality, and retail — are women-dominated fields. What does it mean that no matter how essential they may seem (e.g. education) women’s jobs are still considered dispensable?
The slogan for International Women’s Day 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. But to so many women, stretched thin by competing responsibilities, choosing the challenge can feel like a tall order. It is exhausting to continue to challenge the norms we’ve been challenging for a hundred years. It is frustrating to be constantly thrust back by the current when we are swimming as hard as we can.
Choose to Challenge: Hope for the Future
Coronavirus did not create misogyny and systemic injustice; it has only revealed the profound scope. The current crisis has forced us to look discrimination square in the face at both a personal and institutional level.
We need big, important, systemic change. That means preventing domestic abuse and protecting its survivors. It means supporting women’s health centers, providing sick leave, childcare, and a living wage. Changing what it means to be a woman at work, which involves rejigging our economy to value women’s work and compensating them accordingly. It means investing money, real money, in women-dominated fields from education to healthcare to HR, which are often far undervalued.
Though it is imperative that we fight for these societal changes, we must also fight at the personal level. (We know you’re tired; we’re tired too. But if not us, then who?) We must choose to challenge casual misogyny, norms that dictate that women alone are responsible for housework and childcare, the incessant critique and objectification of women’s bodies, particularly women of colour. It is a radical act for women to live like their time, emotional resources, and intellect have a value equal to a man’s. #ChooseToChallenge the norms which say that you’re not essential, that you’re not capable, that you’re not worthy.
How do you choose to challenge and challenge yourself? This is the question we have asked 9 women at work in Factorial.
Isabella Vecchini – Account Manager
For me, the motto #ChooseToChallenge means feeling able to test myself and question the things that I disagree with, without seeking someone else’s approval. I think it is important that everyone, regardless of gender or their role in an organisation, is able to freely express their opinion. That we feel free to contribute new ideas while also respecting the opinion of others. I believe that sharing our personal point of view creates value in any environment, both professional and personal.
Nabeelah Yousuph – Software Engineer
For me, choosing to challenge means challenging the stereotypes that I have held for most of my life. I grew up thinking that women were supposed to be the lowest gender. And as I have grown, I have learned that this is not the case.
So aside from breaking this particular stereotype, I try to challenge myself to forget what they’ve told me before, that I’m weaker than them. Now I try to see myself from a better perspective because I am just like them. I can do everything in my power to break these stereotypes.
On the other hand, I also want to challenge the imposter syndrome. Which in my case always occurs when I see myself in a place where I feel like I don’t belong. Now I am trying to challenge myself to see that I was chosen for this position because I am ready to do it. They chose me for my skills and abilities, nothing more.
The last thing I would like is to challenge myself to be a good role model for other girls. That is, other women who want to see themselves in positions that they never thought they could occupy. So, for this International Women’s Day Celebration, I choose to challenge myself, to see myself better, to break stereotypes, and to be who I want to be.
Leticia Escanciano – Software Engineer
On the part of the leadership of the company Pau Fernandez (Factorial CFO) is making a great effort to include more and more girls in the development team. In the end, technology is a world that has been too long considered a man’s field.
I think that sometimes we are afraid to enter this sector because it seems available only to men. We have a preconceived idea that we are not going to do as well as they do, but we must break these stereotypes. Women can do things just as well or even better than a man can, it just depends on each person. For my part, I believe that I can contribute by helping my colleagues more. I would like to convey the message that girls can also do technology, and not just that but we can do it very well.
Cassie Yusofi – Regional Sales Manager US
Today, women have the option to share their views in important conversations that take place at tables around the world.
We have a real option to question things and share our opinions, whereas before we simply couldn’t or weren’t allowed to. So, choose to use your right to contest, because it is a privilege.
Nitya Fajardo – Regional Sales Manager Southern Europe
For me, Women’s Day commemorates the fight for employment as a result of a long process of equality in all aspects, not only in professional life but also in everyday life. Educating our children along the same lines is also very important.
Erifyli Evangelous Sossidi – Software Engineer
The slogan for this year’s Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge. It is a slogan with great meaning for women who have decided to work in programming as women make up only 10% of this sector. This year we have a very good opportunity to talk about technology and the role of women in this sector. We must empower each other to participate in the evolution of technology.
Johanna Denfeld – Senior Account Executive German Market
The challenge for me is to come to work every day and do my best.
In doing so, I look for female examples because I believe that we women have qualities that the entire tech industry can benefit from.
Mariana Ramalho- Content Marketing Leader
For me, one of the biggest challenges, which goes far beyond Women’s Day, is being able to empower other women. As a leader, I feel that I have the ability to empower the women who work with me to become better professionals, better leaders and that they can grow and evolve within the company. Also, I want them to feel that they can assume leadership positions in the future. It is important that they feel that they are heard and that they feel that they have space within the organisation.
Although I am still young, in the future, I would like to be a leader who is able to motivate my team and bring more women to leadership positions. Because when we see more women at the top, we feel confident that we can get there too.
Nadia Cantisano – Product Designer
Personally, I always choose to challenge the status quo, be it personally or professionally. In the end, especially when the status quo is discriminatory towards a particular group of people. So as a woman, I belong to a group that is discriminated against. Because it is through challenging the status quo that people learn both individually and professionally.
On a professional level, luckily, I have never had a work environment in which I have felt that I was being discriminated against for being a woman. But I am aware that this is not the case for everyone. It is a bit sad that even now, we are in this situation. I think it is very necessary that we question these norms regardless of our gender or any other trait.
It is true that in the area of product and technology, women are the minority. But this is changing and luckily in Factorial, I have always been encouraged to do what I want when I want.
They have never cut my wings and I think I have never felt held back by my gender.
We would like to see more women in this area of product and technology, although the representation of women in technology is slowly increasing. I encourage you all to join us if you’re interested!
Flore-Eve Blondel – Account Manager France
For me, the motto choose to challenge means: Change. Because I see the challenge as a change, an evolution, something that we want to evolve. And we always have the option to make it happen.
Join the Challenge of International Women’s Day 2021
Although women at work are likely to experience inequality within the workplace, this is something that together we can change. There are many ways to contribute to change. Today we challenge you to participate in International Women’s Day. We challenge you to share your ideas and experiences with the hashtag #ChooseToCallenge. Most of all, we challenge you not to give up the fight— no matter what it may look like for you.