As I am writing this, mama is complaining about something. Hence why if this is a vlog, you can see me nodding profusely, saying “uh-huh” “really, and then?!” while typing this. I’m not rude, just multitasking. 😛
I’ve gotta write about this before I lose my notes. YSEALI hosted a panel on women in leadership and as you can see the panelists were very diverse and they are such inspiring women!
They each shared so much about their career journey and how they fought hard for their dreams but when they were asked, “have you been discriminated at work?”; they all said; “honestly, I didn’t notice”. And that got me thinking, are women today too fragile?
They all echoed the same reasons why they didn’t really notice if they were being discriminated against or not – it was simply because they worked hard and always find ways to better themselves when they’re faced with challenges and adversities. Dr. Mazlan and Sharala both grew up in relatively conservative households so when they decided to pursue their dreams in astrophysics and engineering respectively, their mothers asked: “who is going to marry you?”. But they both went on to do what they wanted anyway. That is the essence of women empowerment, having the courage to fight for your dreams. But back then, they didn’t know that was what they were doing, they just did.
Dr. Mazlan also said that during her early days working in the field, being the only woman in the team, she sometimes was not called to field trips with her male colleagues. It turned out their colleagues’ wives were not comfortable of letting their husbands spend days with a woman on the field. And she completely understood that and had to figure out a way to get more women in the field. She was so focused on changing the industry. Her vision was to take control of the situation and be at the top. And she did.
Ngai Yuen shared her stories on working in the olden days corporate and entering the “boys club”. She had to learn the lingo, be part of the cigarette break deal makings and balance between building a relationship with her male counterparts without sending the wrong signals. She had to be tactical in everything that she did including what she wore to events, how she behaved around men, etc so to avoid mishaps. This form of ignorance amongst the male counterparts, in my opinion, is what women all over the world should call out on and strive to change. But what I admire most is how she focused on getting her job done and telling them off when her male colleagues crossed professional boundaries without sobbing thinking about discriminations.
Xelia shared about societal expectations on women. Sometimes we women are the ones placing the weights on our fellow species. We think that when mothers work late or are away from her family, they’re not good mothers. Xelia had an interesting conversation with her daughter about her job when she asked what is it that she does and how come she’s working late or traveling away from home sometimes. She told her that she’s helping other people build their dreams. And her daughter proudly tells that to her friends at school. That gave her the comfort of juggling her passion and her family knowing that the people that matter, are right there behind her cheering her on.
In conclusion, I am not trying to say that all the women empowerments movements are redundant but I think we need to also focus on building our capabilities while trying to push for equality. We can’t be calling for change without having the strengths and abilities to fulfill those roles when they’re finally made available. I say while fighting for equality and making sure women are treated right, we need to also better ourselves and strive to be the best in what we do. But what about the discriminations and harassments that are happening to women today? Should we just turn the other cheek and pretend it didn’t happen? Nobody is saying that. If it happens, call it out. Sharala raised a very good point, only the crying baby will be fed. If you don’t ask, you will not get. If you didn’t stand up to say this must stop, it simply wouldn’t. If you didn’t ask for that promotion although you know you deserve it, it will simply not roll to your feet.
Having said that, I agree in some cases; further interventions may be required to remedy the situations. And that why these organizations exist to protect and fight for women’s rights.
Okay, kantoi (caught red-handed) already. Mama is now complaining about me not listening to her stories. Gotta go.