Two experiences in the last two weeks that have changed my perspective
After having watched The Hundred Foot Journey (Lasse Hallström, 2014), I picked up the novel and whipped through it in under a week. Quick plot: a family from Indian emigrates to a small country town in France. The family opens up a restaurant, attracting much attention from a local high top restaurant owner, Madame Mallory. She takes the main character, Hassan, under her wing and he ends up in Paris with his own 3-michelin star restaurant. My favourite part about the story came at the very end, when the michelin-inspection committee calls Hassan to award him his third star. The critic says, "you are the first foreign chef in the city to ever win a third star." Quite a backhanded compliment.
Similar to this experience, I read an article in LinkedIn called "Recruiting, and Retaining Women in Tech." A good brief article about why women feel unwelcome in tech related careers,
"If your company is mostly male, you will have to work extra hard to create a women-friendly culture, where women don't feel they are different" - Caterina Fake (CEO, Findery).
The article ends with a call to action:
"Don't just sit and wait for women to apply for jobs. Make sure your company is friendly to women. Let it be known that you are interested in recruiting and retaining women. Build your own pipeline for applicants."
My immediate reaction was positive. Of course women (like men) want to feel comfortable and safe entering a work environment. And let's be honest, certain jobs have a reputation of being ill-suited for women. Upon further consideration, however, I also realized that it might potentially be backhanded. Like our compliment above. What if you found out after being hired at the workplace of your dreams that you were considered there, not solely based on skills, but because you were a woman? How do you feel?
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant write a column called Women at Work in the Sunday TIMES. This past week, they explored "Why Women Stay Quiet" in workplace environments. They open with an example of an incident I believe we have all been through:
"Almost every time [women] started to speak, they were interrupted or shot down before finishing their pitch. When one had a good idea, a male writer would jump in and run with it before she could complete her thought." - [reported by Glenn Mazzara]