Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy International Women’s Day

“Take a good look around you” the professor’s voice boomed in the cavernous amphitheater, awash with 700 faces expectantly looking back at him. “No, look around you”, he persisted. Hesitantly we looked at each other, not knowing what to expect. “Most of you are women”, he continued. “Psychology is a study favored by women. And yet, when the time comes for a PhD, statistics will be against you. Based on your numbers, most PhD positions should be acquired by women. But when the time comes, they will be given to your few fellow male students remaining.” The professor was not trying to crush our dreams and hopes; he was just talking numbers.

Today we celebrate women’s day. But what have we really achieved? For this topic, so close to my heart, I wish I could write a thoughtful article to express all that I want today. Yet with a deadline for yet another draft for my thesis looming for tomorrow, all I can do is to offer a few short thoughts, or rather pleas, lacking in eloquence but heartfelt nonetheless.

Please remember today, that even though we have achieved a spot in the workplace, we’ve only managed to climb only as high as middle-management while upper middle-management and high management positions are still dominated by men. The glass ceiling is still there, as impenetrable as ever. Please remember, that even though we’ve managed to narrow the pay gap, we haven’t even come close to bridging it, with pay differences ranging from 10 to more than 40 percent. And yes, these statistics refer to Western societies. Please remember that when a woman does manage to attain a managerial position, she will often be demonized and hated, not only by her male but also her female colleagues. Inciting hatred, she will be labeled anything from “Dragon” to “Iron-Lady”. Please remember that women are still passed over for promotions and partnerships, even when they have equal or better skills and work history than men.

Lastly, perhaps most importantly, please remember to be kind. Be kind to the woman next to you. If we continue to be divided, we’ll always be conquered. I am proud to be studying under the team of researchers who showed, in 2004, that in our struggle to stand out, in our desperate fight to claim a better future for ourselves as individuals, we tend to try to dissociate and differentiate ourselves so much from our fellow women that we actually end up stereotyping and encumbering our fellow women even more than men do. Don’t let this be yet another weapon that will be used against us. If you take anything from this rushed, yet heartfelt post of mine, please take this with you: Be kind to your fellow woman. Help her achieve her goals. Please remember, that true change is yet to come. We’ve got to achieve it together.


Zazie said...

I totally agree: women should be women's best alleys and they not always are.
And it is true, that many things are still to be done - not because we are equal to (or better than, or worse than) men but because we deserve equal respect.

Thank you for remebering this day in your blog :)

Anonymous said...

Well said


Linda said...

Dearest Divina,
What a fantastic post - so true. Just think of my DH's career... But, as far as "Be kind to your fellow woman" is concerned, I only wish that a colleague of my would read your blog, as I have been bullied, humiliated and unjustly criticised this year at work.
I hope that your thesis gains the excellent result that it deserves. Good fortune!

Ines said...

Lovely and very true words Divina. Hope we all manage to improve the world for women we live with and those who will come after us (meaning our children).

PinstripedZebra said...

As a man I totally agree with this post and feel it is totally unfair for women to not get the same recognition or pay as man. And the fact that men have more chances on a PhD while it is statistically impossible for them to be better in the field when the (very big) majority of the students are female!