Stories of Gender Equality Fights from 2015

Iffat Gill
Posted May 6, 2015 from Pakistan
Our WorkToEquality Campaign Infographic
Our WorkToEquality Campaign Infographic: Things Women in Technology experience at the Workplace in 2015 (1/1)

I recently launched an online campaign ‘Work To Equality,’on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2015. The campaign is a result of a brainstorming session on issues faced by women currently working in technology field. It was attended by fifteen women and thought leaders from different technology companies. One of the purpose of the meetings was to identify possible solutions and collaborations for an action based campaign to empower and train more women and girls to join technology fields.

One story that left me speechless was when a hiring manager said these words: “Men are supposed to earn more than women.” Yes, it is 2015. And yes, it is a company in Europe. Yes, women still need to fight for an equal status, that of a full and complete human being and not of a sub-species.

Here are a few more ‘actual quotes’ we heard:

"Women always get this question: So, do you have kids? Males don't get asked this question much."

"I get interrupted 10 times more than my male counterparts in company meetings."

"Sexist jokes by male colleagues make me feel uncomfortable and confused. I do not know whether to laugh or feel offended."

"I am considered disruptive if I express my opinion about something I do not agree with."

The sad thing is, managers or male colleagues may not even be aware of the impact their unconscious bias might have on their female employees or team members. Unconscious bias and sexism at work is a contributing factor for women to change career paths. Women make up only a quarter of the work force in STEM related jobs, and that number only goes down when you look higher in the organisations. Not only that, but wage discrimination is common. Uncomfortable, sometimes even hostile, work environments are commonplace. Women continue to face challenges that either discourage them or force them to leave the work force.

The world has reached an age where digital skills are as fundamental as literacy itself for finding a job. Given the relatively low number of women working in technology fields, urgent measures need to be taken to create an inclusive, diversified and welcoming work environment. This is to ensure both talent acquisition and retention.

To encourage more women to choose technology careers, we need to focus on capacity building and identifying and funding trainings. We also need to address the factors that lead women to leave the work force. With our campaign, we aim to highlight some of the issues including unconscious bias, gender stereotypes and wage disparity. It is clearly unproductive to introduce more female talent into the unwelcoming working environments that eventually force them to leave.

We have launched this campaign to highlight stories so that we can start debates and discussions around the issue. Realising that there is a problem is the first step towards making a change. We want to invite stakeholders to become part of our first step and start these debates in their companies, networks and events. We are also organising activities to address issues and build capacity of women to handle difficult or uncomfortable situations at work.

If we want to achieve gender equality, there is no other way but to push for women’s economic independence, which is not possible with achieving equality at workplace. Even if we manage to successfully train more women to join workforce, biased mindsets, behaviours and policies are going to continue affecting the efficiency and quality of their work. Therefore urgent measures need to be taken by policy makers in corporate and government stakeholders and to address the issue to uproot gender bias at workplace.

(For more, please take a look at our campaign infographic: “Things Women in Tech Experience at Workplace in 2015”)

Want to join us?

Tell us your stories and help organisations look at their recruiting, employment and maternity leave policies, as well as make their company a more inclusive and inviting environment to work in!

Call to Action:

1- Tweet us your story!

If you are a working woman and have faced challenges based on your gender, share your stories with us. It could be things you experience, hear, overhear or see at work. It could be things that made you uncomfortable, upset or repulsed! Don’t forget to tag it with the hashtag #WorktoEquality.

2- If you are a man who supports equality at workplace, share the work you are doing to support your colleagues with the #WorktoEquality hashtag.

3- Support our work by sharing this infographic in your network!

We will compile your stories in a downloadable report. The report will be shared them with different stakeholders, industry leaders and policy makers at the end of the campaign.

The Path to Participation Initiative from World Pulse and No Ceilings

Comments 10

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Divya Anne Selvaraj
May 07, 2015
May 07, 2015

Thank you Iffat Gill for starting this camaign which will result in very crucial insights into women's struggle for equality at the workplace.

Being a working woman myself, it is difficult to ignore disparities not just in pay but in the way a woman is perceived in the workplace, and the way an independant working woman is perceived by society.

It is true that there is a lack of awareness, but it is also true that a lot of people are keeping quiet even when they disagree, with anything ranging between a sexist joke and discriminatory work policies. It is time that both men and women started speaking up, started putting their foot down and stopped laughing at sexist jokes that are clearly in our technology enabled not funny.

I agree that economic independance is critical for gender equality.

With best wishes

Divya

Iffat Gill
May 07, 2015
May 07, 2015

Dear Divya, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my rant!

Bharti Singh Chauhan
May 07, 2015
May 07, 2015

Dear Iffat, i agree to ur point that there r many issues faced by women in work place and in 2015 also still male dominated society exists. u hv really taken a very good step and i strongly believe if we empower womens around us connecting them through technology the changes and stereotypes may break.Great work...i myself am working on women empowerment and hv recently decided to start up a free computer learning and education centre for illiterate women living in my society..will definitely look for ur guidance and support

Iffat Gill
May 07, 2015
May 07, 2015

Dear Bharti,

Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I am not sure if you are aware of a similar initiaitive (Capacity building of young girls in the use of ICTs) that we are implementeing with Sister Zeph in Pakistan. Take a look at this link: http://chunrichoupaal.org/girls-in-icts-pakistan/

I would love to chat about your plans and mission to bring more women and girls into technology fields for better economic opportunities. You can also catch us at the World Summit on the Information Society platfrom where we are going with success stories, challenges and solutions about digital inclusion of women and girls. (https://www.itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2015/Agenda/Session/189 )

Regards,

Iffat

Tamarack Verrall
May 09, 2015
May 09, 2015

Dear Iffat,

This campaign is beautifully put together, and will no doubt serve to encourage more women to share the derogatory comments they face, to feel more supported in the action of entering an area of work that we have felt unwelcome to explore, and to know that we are not alone. You also gently but firmly point to how men in the field can be examples of support, by not being silent when undermining comments are made toward women. Including some of the quotes that you have heard makes it real, proves the problem. More quotes as they come in through your outreach will serve to strengthen your call for change. Comments already received show how immediately effective your campaign is and can be, in changing the landscape of who has access to the online world. I hope that the Initiative will see how important it is to fund all efforts in increasing economic independence for women. Congrats on a valuable campaign.

In Sisterhood,

Tam

Iffat Gill
May 11, 2015
May 11, 2015

Dear Tam,

Thank you for your comment. I think the fight for equality really starts with demanding more attention and action for the economic independence of women. Which means that the conditions at work place are really pivotal to achive the goal to equality.

Cheers!

Dani26
May 11, 2015
May 11, 2015

Dear Iffat Gill

Thanks so much for sharing your story and campaign. I don't work in the STEM field, but have read quite a bit online, and have heard from female friends/ peers who do work in the STEM field, about what women in the field experience from their male co-workers. I agree the issue of unconscious bias is a big one, as well as I think structural gender inequality, not just in STEM, but in society more broadly. I think it's really important to highlight (as you do) that this is an issue across the world, even in so-called 'developed' countries (such as Australia too!)

Love your rant, keep them coming, and best wishes and solidarity for your continued awesome work!

Cheers

Dani

Adanna
May 11, 2015
May 11, 2015

Dear Iffat,

Your post is well written and it reminds me of the reason why I started a free global mentoring program for young girls and women in STEM called InspireIT.

I totally agree with you on the fact that "The world has reached an age where digital skills are as fundamental as literacy itself for finding a job". 

Working as a Project Manager in a STEM field, I can totally relate to your points but giving up is not the best. Women need to come together and fight as well as focus on capacity building and identifying and funding trainings like you said.

Please send me a message if you want to know more about InspireIT or visit www.nueclaservices.com/inspireIT.

x

Adanna

Fatima Waziri - Azi
May 11, 2015
May 11, 2015

Hello Iffat - I couldn't agree more with you and good job on your campaign. Being a woman in a male dominating world is a daunting task, we constantly have to prove ourselves and work twice as hard as our male counterparts. An executive once said it was bad business to hire a woman into any serious position because of the baggage that women come with. Now mind sets like this need to be obliterated.

Olivia
May 21, 2015
May 21, 2015

Dear Iffat Gill,

Thank you very much for raising this intersting issues in your community. Gender inequality happens everywhere not only in developing countries but also in developed country. When it comes to the work place, we can see there are a lot of glass ceiling where women could not climb to upper position because the perception that women could not make the best of them because they need to take care of their family and kids or because they are practically just incapable compare to men. This is so backward way of thinking. Despite lived in the capital city with a bunch of open mind view, I personally still witness rampant practise of this. Inequality in work place. We (men and women) should be counted at our work place based on our skills and knowledge not by our gender. I sincerely wish the best for your project.

Cheers,

Olivia