Beginning in 1987, March has been dedicated to commemorating the accomplishments and success of women in all areas of life. It is a special time to celebrate the contributions they have made in culture and society.
For this year’s Women’s History Month, our very own Peer Career Advisors have come to share their stories. From being a woman in a male-dominated industry to working in a female-dominated office, we are here to celebrate the successes we have made as a society as well as educate others on the struggles that women still face in this day and age.
I first started working when I was 16 years old. Because where I worked was equally split between male and female employees, I didn’t notice the difference of working in a female-majority or male-majority office.
When I first started my academic career at Chapman, I was a Psychology major with classes that consisted of 90% women and professors that were most likely women. This felt normal and something completely natural to me. It wasn’t until I switched to a Business Administration major when I felt the pressures of being a woman in a male-dominated environment.
Since I received an equal amount of exposure to both environments, I quickly began to notice the differences between the two and how each one affected me. In addition to my classes, I started my position at Chapman’s Office of Career and Professional Development, which happens to be a female-dominated office. Over the past year, I have also continued to work alongside women through my freelance work and internships. Now, I can confidently say that these specific environments have directly impacted me both professionally and personally.
Because I am able to experience both a male-dominated environment and female-dominated environments, I noticed what exactly I gratefully missed out on when it came to male-dominated surroundings.
With my female-dominated environments, I have been directly impacted through empowerment by other women and the mutual understanding that women have when it comes to the workforce. I have been given a safe space to share my ideas and practice effective communication without the potential of a male colleague to speak over me or disregard my ideas (which are common themes amongst male-dominated industries). Because of this, I can now confidently go into a male-dominated industry, remain confident, and stand up for myself.
Now, I know what healthy workplaces look like, unlike a lot of women who are just getting into the workforce. I can also teach other men and women how to properly empower themselves and female colleagues in ways that companies haven’t done before.
I have been fortunate enough to grow up around conversations about gender equality. Whether it meant lectures on women’s history in elementary school or the presence of feminist clubs on Chapman’s campus, I feel lucky to be surrounded by people who are unafraid of discussing these topics. It’s an easy misconception that being in this bubble of like-minded individuals has made me unaware of the inequalities that women face, but that is far from true.
Being on social media and seeing stories about how my favorite actresses are getting paid less than their male counterparts or how men in my desired industry are more likely to be hired than women of the same stature has been a constant reminder that gender inequality is still very real and prevalent. These stories stick with me, and they affect me in my day-to-day life, adding to any existing doubt I have in myself. In moments when I am working my hardest and thinking about my future goals of working in business, I know that I will likely have to work ten times harder to stand out as a woman.
There are always going to be those lingering, subconscious thoughts that make me question my own potential. I can even admit that there are moments where I am afraid to speak up against men in the workplace, fearing that my opinions won’t be respected. So while I am surrounded by concurrent discussions about feminism, the realities of gender inequality often take precedence in my own mind. Because even though public activism about feminism has been important and impactful, there aren’t enough efforts made to combat internalized misogyny like this. There need to be better efforts to remind young girls and women that they are more than enough. I shouldn’t be putting myself down before others even get the chance to judge me.
As I’ve continued to grow as a professional, this is something that has been on my mind. I wonder if my internal notions about my gender will get in the way of my future aspirations. Fortunately, I have control over this, and I am constantly working to remind myself that being a woman is something to be proud of. There will be inevitable challenges in the workplace, but by empowering myself and other women around me, I can get closer to reaching my professional goals without the threat of internalized misogyny. I hope to continue seeing women at the top of their field and in positions of power, inspiring other young professionals that they can make it as well.
Being a woman in an Asian household is difficult. Asian parents have this tendency to prioritize and praise the men in the family because they will be the ones to pass down the family name. Versus women, who the majority, will take their future significant other’s last name. I have seen this occur in Asian families growing up. However, there is this one family that stood out to me, which is my mom’s friend’s family.
Their family lives in a very strict Asian household. They have three children: two boys and one girl. I’m fairly close to their daughter as she would reach out to me frequently for college advice. In our conversations, we often talk about our families and how she is doing mentally. This is because she comes from a very strict Asian household. Her older brother is treated like a king just because he is assumed to get the family heritage and will pass down the family’s name. Therefore, her parents tend to expect a lot from their daughter. Not only that but most of her achievements are overlooked due to her older brother.
This contrasts with how my family is. Even though I come from an Asian household, it’s less strict and everyone is treated equally. We are praised for our achievements regardless of our gender. I would advise their daughter to be proud of how far she has come. I told her that she doesn’t need her parents’ validation to feel accomplished or feel proud of herself.
I would not only like to help my family friend, but also the other daughters that struggle in Asian households as well. I want to help them with the mental struggles that they face daily. Many Asian children have also been taught to not share their emotions, which is why it’s so hard for Asian daughters to express how they truly feel. I would like to empower Asian daughters and help them express their feelings without feeling trapped.
It wasn’t until I took my first business class in my freshman year of high school that I started to think seriously about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. In my sophomore year, I took marketing, and that was it; I was hooked. When I announced to my family and friends that I was moving to California to pursue my degree in business, I began to notice how differently people saw me as a woman pursuing such a degree.
Most people were happy and encouraged me to continue on my intended trajectory towards business. Others were less supportive. When my classmates heard, some made passive-aggressive comments asking me if a girl really wanted to take so much math, while others suggested that I should just switch my major to Psychology, which is my current minor.
I couldn’t wait to get to college, where I expected there to be many more women in business. I was right, but there were many more men in business as well. I do not think I have ever taken a business class that has had an equal ratio of men to women. As a result, most of my group projects have been with men, most of my professors have been men, and most of the textbooks I read are written by men.
Most of the time, I don’t mind, but when I come from a female-dominated psychology class into a male-dominated business class, I wonder what it would be like if more women were in business. If more women’s perspectives, in general, were taken into account in business and other male-dominated fields.
There are some days when being one of only a few women in a class makes me feel empowered, but most of the time, it’s just draining. If you are like me and find yourself outnumbered and tired, take some time for yourself. Practice self-care. Make connections in your major and get involved on campus. Read some empowering feminist literature or watch a rom-com. Whatever you do to get recharged. Just know that you are not alone.