International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the strides women have achieved in the workplace, as well as shine a light on the challenges that remain ahead. This year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, calls on us to combat the many forms of bias that continue to permeate society. On International Women’s Day and every day, Quantcast celebrates the facets and intersections of faith, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity, and disability.
Equality is essential to the way we work, which is why we’re committed to challenging gender bias. In honor of International Women’s Day, I led an insightful panel discussion with a few of my colleagues, focused on gender bias in the workplace, work/life balance, and intersectionality. Here are some insights from the panelists:
Breaking into the boys’ club
Malvika Mathur, Sr. Manager, Engineering
I have seen that conversations among men tend to happen after hours; it’s not really a conscious act to keep women out of discussions. I’ve stayed back so that I can participate in these talks and often there’s some great brainstorming and ideas that come out of these conversations. There are also times when you have an official meeting but it might have started early. If that’s the case, call it out and ask for clarification about anything that was discussed before the meeting started. By doing that and adding valuable input to the meeting, it shows that you care about the topic being discussed and want to be involved. Just be aware that you may be left out of some conversations sometimes; it’s often not on purpose, but you need to call attention to it whenever possible so that your co-workers are aware of this practice.
Nora Sintos, Key Account Manager
I’ve been at a couple companies in the past that have been small enough where all of the male executives sit nearby or in the same room. Be aware of that and make it your goal to create awareness of that issue and continue to have difficult conversations about that tendency, so you can rise in the ranks and really have a presence.
Promoting professional development
Angelina Marmorato, Key Account Manager
There’s this belief that a boys’ club means that all the men are at the golf club or at conferences. It’s not about the golf; it’s about the conversations that are happening. Men who have mentors and sponsors are way more likely to come up with an explicit plan in terms of how to get to the next level in their career, whereas women don’t do that as often. I would challenge all of us to create a plan, find a sponsor within our company, and take concrete steps toward career development so we’re not left out.
Brittany Hebb, Head of Account Management
Imposter syndrome is real; not just for women but for men as well. This can happen when I’m tackling a really big project; if I get overwhelmed, I take a step back and look at everything that I’ve already accomplished in my career. That helps me to reframe my abilities and understand how I’ve gotten to this point in my career. As you’re going into conversations with your manager, it’s important to think about all that you have accomplished, and all that you’ve brought to the table. I keep track of everything that I’ve done over the course of the past year so that I can highlight key accomplishments with my manager. This is important information when discussing salary and compensation as well.
Achieving a work/life balance
I personally fall into cycles. Sometimes I’m a workaholic; there are times where I’m working on projects that are really exciting but take a lot of extra time. But it’s equally important to realize the trade-off of working a lot. It’s important to make sure you are getting enough rest, are spending quality time with your family, and that you address other aspects of your life that you prioritize. I like to use lists to focus on and prioritize what I want to do in my professional life as well as what I want to accomplish in my personal life. It’s important to continue to review your lists from time to time to make sure you’re focusing on the right things. So if there’s a week where you’re working extra hours, it’s perfectly fine; you know that in the next week, you take some time off to yourself and re-energize. It’s important to have a healthy balance; a great way to do this is to have a blueprint of what you want to accomplish, with concrete steps for accomplishing your goals. Share that blueprint with your manager, as well as what kind of work environment you want.
As a new mom, work/life balance is definitely something I’m adjusting to right now. It’s important to make time for myself. I make sure that I’m communicating with my husband; when I need extra support or feel a little burned out, I make sure that I keep those lines of communication open. I think there’s a lot of hesitancy sometimes to request time off to deal with family issues, but I am fortunate that in those instances, I’m met with compassion from my manager. There should not be a stigma attached to asking for time off when it comes to dealing with family issues.
Bridging the gap between representing two different communities
I’m half Filipino and half Irish; it’s something that I’ve grown to be very proud of. I’m getting married soon, and we applied for a marriage license. My middle name is my mom’s maiden name (O’Connor) but my last name is Sintos, which can sound very Hisplanic. I decided I had to give one of those up. But which one do I give up? Should I pick the name that ties me to my Irish side or pick the name that ties me to my Filipino side? I decided to keep my middle name. Representing communities is something that’s always top of mind, but it’s not something I battle with. It’s part of me and I’m quite proud of my heritage.
When I took the SAT test a long time ago, I had to pick what my background was; I could pick black or white, but I couldn’t pick both. I really struggled with that—why can’t I pick both?
As I’ve gotten older, my world view has expanded and I’ve met more people like me. I can relate to more people as I live a little bit in both worlds; I’m really proud of both sides of my background. When I was younger, I struggled a lot with that side of my identity. I didn’t know what side I should pick, and I didn’t know many other people who are biracial. And now, on this panel, many people are multiracial. It’s really exciting to see!
Lauren Kirby, Recruiting Coordinator
I identify as Native Indigenous, specifically Koyukuk Athabascan and Inupiat from the Beaver Village tribe of Alaska. I think many people don’t have a lot of experience with indigenous cultures and native cultures in general. Something that I tend to do is ‘go big’ first. I’ll say “Oh, I’m Native Indigenous” and then I go smaller, just so that it makes it easier for people to break it down. When I have to check boxes when filling out forms, I tend to just check American Indian/Alaska native. Technically speaking, I can check off two or more races, because I’m not just indigenous—I am also caucasian. The reason I just solely check American Indian/Alaskan Native is because I feel that I identify more on that end of things; there’s also the idea of representation and visibility. I think it’s that lack of visibility and that lack of representation that contributes to these sorts of biases. It makes it harder for us to have these conversations about pressing issues that you know our community faces; people may have a certain notion of what you should look like or how you should act. It helps open the conversation, so that we can have meaningful conversations with each other about the importance of visibility and representation.
I’ve been in the professional world for about 13 years now, but when I first entered the workplace, I wore a skirt suit. The thought of that is hilarious to everyone that I know now. Dressing a bit more gender neutral was hard for me at first; I thought there was a connotation about it. Being a woman is hard enough sometimes, so for me, I’ve come a really long way in that journey. The best thing that we can all do is to bring our true selves to work. That is how we break the bias—sharing our experiences, and connecting with other people. Sometimes it can be rooted in the context of hosting clients for a dinner. It happened the other week when I was at the table with three other females, and the server kept referring to me as a sir. I don’t really care, but I felt like the server’s behavior was making my clients uncomfortable.
No one’s perfect—just be yourself; that’s how we can empower each other.
Responding to bias
It’s important to first recognize that all of us have some form of bias and to talk through that. I previously worked at an agency. If I interview someone who was at an agency, I try to remember that they may not have the same experience as I did; and I shouldn’t assume that that’s the case. Bias can exist in a lot of different ways. We should recognize that, talk through that, and be aware of bias. That is going to go a long way in terms of helping to break that bias.
Breaking the bias at your company
#BreakingtheBias takes some courage and initiative, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Remember that sharing our stories makes us stronger. Strive to be open and transparent, and don’t be afraid to start conversations about workplace bias. Speaking up is the first step in identifying, mitigating, and breaking bias in the workplace.
At Quantcast, we are committed to fostering a culture of diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging in the workplace. We’ve invested in a broad range of DEI initiatives to ensure that all employees are empowered for success. Our employee resource groups, including the Pride Alliance, Diversity Leadership, and Women’s Network, provide a forum for Quantcasters to voice their unique perspectives and drive growth. In fact, we were recently honored by Built In’s 2022 Best Places to Work Awards!
For more detailed inspiration, learn what some of our Quantcast employees are doing to #BreakTheBias. Or read the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report to learn how far the world is from closing the global gender gap.