So today is 8 March and it’s the day that the whole world celebrates International Women’s Day. Before I get into it, let me take this opportunity to wish all women a very Happy International Women’s Day!
I just found out that some countries take today seriously that they declare a public holiday. Not my country for sure! Plus I don’t think it is necessary. It’s nice to be at work and meet other women to celebrate and talk about it, listen to the different views. I’ll be having lunch with all women in my division to celebrate today.
This year’s theme is #balanceforbetter. And the campaign is not just for today but the whole year. Interesting to read the different views of what #balanceforbetter means in the official website of International Women’s Day and UNWomen.
So what does #balanceforbetter mean to me? Before that I would like to clarify that to me, it takes the women also to preach balance for themselves, in fact it starts with them to show the world what balance means, the effort should not come from just men and the world/system.
With that in mind, I will give my views from 3 perspectives – women, men and system.
- Know when to prioritise family over work – work will never finish, so put a hard stop when necessary, leave the office, go back to your family and be there for them.
- Know your own potential and limits, recognise what your role is and take utmost accountability, tell the world that you own it, you deserve it and you are worthy of it.
- Recognise other women that are in the same boat as you. Help each other to achieve each other’s dreams, no jealousy, no back-stabbing, compete healthily and be happy for each other’s success. I strongly believe that women who want to be successful in career especially in male-denominated industry, should stick together, learn and exchange experiences together.
- Know when to pamper yourself, i.e. leave your roles and responsibilities behind to refresh, reflect, rejuvenate so that you can act your role better (try to put aside the guilt feeling, we all need our me-time once in a while!).
- Know that no matter how strong your woman can be in juggling roles of wife, mother and employee/employer, once in awhile voluntarily offer them help because they are also just a human being with finite energy. Just that sometimes they want you to read their mind because we women are emotionally annoying like that.
- Know that some women can be more shy and introvert when they are in a male-denominated environment, so the male leaders particularly should take the initiative to ask for their views so that their voices are heard, they can influence and make significant changes too. It’s also unfortunate for women that men are generally physically bigger and louder/deeper in terms of size and voice, so women need to work extra harder to speak up and that’s something that men should acknowledge.
- Show more respect and be less judgmental. Understand that women have different roles and needs than men (it works both ways actually) so they shouldn’t be penalized if they have to go for maternity leave or emergency leave when their kids are sick. I’m lucky enough that I’m surrounded by understanding male bosses and colleagues.
- Create a platform/conducive environment for women to thrive and at the same time increase their quality so that they too deserve to hold senior management positions and sit on company boards. We can promote 30% or 50% women’s representation, but to me it’s just a number. You can’t force the system to capture if the supply of quality women is far less than men.
- Develop more machine-learning models based on data, criteria, stats in the selection process be it for promotion, hiring etc with some degree of human intervention to avoid biases and noises. The models should also acknowledge the fact that it’s not about gender balanced but it’s about diversity. You can read my post on Noise, on why algorithm bias is better than human bias.
- Build more innovative products that can help women with house chores to make their lives easier. We already have a lot such as iRobot, dishwasher (which was even invented by a woman, Josephine Cochrane), washing machine, dryer, now wouldn’t it be nice if there’s a machine that can do the ironing in just 1 minute for 1 piece?
That’s my 2 cents on #balanceforbetter. Ultimately, it’s a collective effort.