The Business Case for Investing in Women (Spring 2016)
This past semester I took UGBA 192T: The Business Case for Investing in women. Unsure of what to expect, I became one of only 4 guys to take the course this semester. I walked into class with an open mindset and I can genuinely say its been one of the best classes I have taken at Cal. Regardless of gender identity, I encourage all my peers to take this class before they graduate. I chose to write a blog for my final project because I thought it was important to share what I’ve taken away from the course and hopefully inspire others by sharing some of the goals I have set for myself both professionally and personally.
— — — — — — — — — — —— — Key Take Aways — —— — — — — — — — —
- Not OR but AND
Social pressures affect both women AND men . Society has a way of setting the norm for what is considered acceptable. These social barriers have prevented both men and women from pushing past what is considered appropriate for someone of their respective gender.
The judgement of others can affect the choices we make whether it be exploring a new career path, taking a promotion, speaking up, taking a risk.
Its important to net let that stop you! Remember that only you can define what masculinity or femininity means to you. Masculinity can be soft and emotional just as femininity can be bold and daring.
I’ve learned that one’s willingness to be vulnerable is a sign of masculinity. Having enough confidence in yourself to express your emotions, concerns, and feelings is masculinity. This includes your concerns about the gender equity, pride in being feminist, and lack of tolerance for gender bias.
2. You can’t do it alone
Gender inequity is a huge issue. Its too big of a problem for any one person to take on. Its important to look for allies. You, yourself, can be an ally!
Its easy to disengage when an issue is not directly affecting you. But when looking to shift cultural paradigms everyone’s role matters. Changing the status quo requires the cooperation of both outsider and insiders.
Outsiders: Those who can agitate the system. Bring attention to the issue and present a strong argument for change.
Insiders: Those who understand the system and advocate for change from the inside. Insiders are those who can use their position and experience to provide insight and mentorship to propel momentum forward.
3. Pick Your Battles
Focus is critical. Long term goals over short term gain. Addressing all the micro aggressions you encounter might seem like a daunting task. That’s because it is! Take into account the gains and losses before you proceed with an action plan.
But here is a suggestions in case you encounter some inappropriate banter
Step 1: Make eye contact
Step 2: Take a breath
Step 3: Let the magic of silence take its course
Step 1: Make eye contact
Step 2: Take a breath
Step 3: “I don’t understand the joke. Can you explain to me why that is funny?”
— — — — — — — — — — Post College/ Prefessional Goals — — — — — — —
Endorsement: Women are less likely to showcase their work. So, their actual contributions are often understated. I plan to advocate for the work of my team members to ensure their beneficaiton to the company (or simply my team) is being recognized. I think the best way to accomplish this is emphasizing her accomplishments to superiors and peers whenever possible and push for special recognition during performance reviews. I think its also extremely important to redirect
2. Mentorship: I plan to mentor both men and women. I aim to provide insight to men as to how they can be an ally in helping close the gender disparity experienced by women. Hopefully mentorship can build up to weekly meeting in which issues and opportunities associated to women can be discussed in a safe environment over food and drinks. More importantly, I plan to mentor women who aspire to make the most out of their potential.
3. Out Reach: I understand that tech is a male dominated industry. Nevertheless I plan to serve as a sponsor for rising seniors and juniors seeking to break into the tech industry. I hope to encourage more women to pursue a career in the tech sector and serve as a resource throughout the recruiting process.
— — — — — — — — — — — — Personal Goals — — -— — — — — — — — —
Goal #1: Retention
This past school year we started an initiative to increase the representation of women on our student leadership board. By being proactive in encouraging our female members to apply, we were able to produce results.
The goal that I am centered on now is retention. I hope to see hight retention rate of our new members on board. I think the best way to do this is ensuring everyone gets ample and equal time to speak during meetings. This can be accomplished by dividing meeting time equally amongst our board members, in which each board member has an allocated time set to speak. I believe that this will create a well functioning team in which everyones contributions are being given equal attention and there’s system in place that ensures everyone is asked to provide their own input in each meeting. My goal is to see at least 50 percent of our board members who come back next year to be women.
Secondly, I plan to proactively encourage incoming board members “directors” to apply to be “Coordinators” and Executive Coordinator” which are higher roles on board. Through class discussions and by seeing the impact it had on the demographics of our board this past year, I have seen the value of providing encouragement. I plan to personal reach out to individuals and emphasize their fulfillment of qualifications for the role.
I have done a lot of work with first generation college students. As a result, every year I mentor high school students through the college application process and help with everything from drafting personal statements to applying to scholarships. This is work that I really enjoyed and have done since my semester at Cal through various organization including Upward Bound and Quesee. Nevertheless, I have noticed that the vast majority of students who reach out for my mentorship have almost completely been male.
My goal is to mentor an equal number of female students as I do male students the next application cycle. I have a great platform from which to do this through Upward Bound and Quesee. I think that reaching out to high achieving female students and asking them directly about their college application plan is a good way to start a dialogue and build mentorship relationships. This varies from my previous strategy of letting the students I work with reach out to me for mentorship. Furthermore, I would follow up consistently over email just as I would regularly do, to stay up to date with their progress and provide as much insight as possible.
Goal#3 Share what I have learned
One of the primary reasons I took this class was because I was concerned. As an older brother, it bothered me that there was a world of issues that I did not understand. I was unsettled at the fact, that I was completely unprepared to help my sister navigate a new set of obstacles of which I was not informed. Personally, my most important goal is to share what I have learned with my loved ones, especially my younger sister. My goal is to empower her to defy the norm and pursue her passions
I hope to informing her of the issues and inspiring her with stories about inspirational women. My goal is to share at least 2 articles or cases every week centered around both issues facing women and the success of high achieving women. I think that starting off with readings like the ones provided in class is a good way to open a dialogue and begin both informing and empowering my sister.