female empowerment

Nevertheless, She Persisted

By the members of Berkeley Women in Business

As a community of young women, we reject the misogynistic notions that females should be quiet. We stand in defiance to the messages telling us that women are incompetent or weak. We are a body of powerful, intelligent and successful women who would like to share a collection of personal experiences. These are our stories of persistence.

 

I was told that I’m incapable of managing a company, because I’m a young female. Instead of being valued for my intellect and experience, I was told that I’m “too pretty”. I prove those people wrong every day by continuing to grow my organization and create more success. I’d like to show the world that I am capable of any obstacle, through my strength, wisdom and courage.

#NeverthelessShePersisted

-Ana Mancia

 

As a woman pursuing a career in startups/venture capital, I've personally encountered sexism from male colleagues in the workplace who still inherently possess the notion that this industry, while traditionally male-dominated, should persist to be so. I prove these people wrong every day through my drive and passion to learn everything I possibly can about the industry, specifically my particular interest in financial technology, and my insatiable work ethic and persistence, whether that is generating as many startup leads as possible, speaking with entrepreneurs about their business models, or advocating for a particular deal from start to finish.

#NeverthelessShePersisted

- Anonymous

I have been diagnosed with mental disorders since my freshman year of high school. I battled anorexia then, and I battle depression and bipolar disorder now. But I know I am not defined by my illness. I continue to pursue my passion in technology, challenging the barrier against women in STEM. Now, I am an entrepreneur coach, a writer, and a contributor for Product Hunt. Without my past, I would not be the resilient and empowered woman I am today. I have, and will, continue to persist for passion.

#NeverthelessShePersisted

- Kat Nguyen

 

Though I have grown up with a supportive family, encouraging teachers, and affectionate friends, I’ve always been timid and afraid to step outside of my comfort zone. Every day, I see a new case of rape, gender inequality, abuse, illness, and terror whether I want to or not and every time, I am reminded of the egocentricity within me for not already having made a difference. I am an advocate for the quote “everything happens for a reason” and believe that I was given an eye for social issues for a reason. I know that things are a lot easier said than done, but I plan on making my words, ideas, and plans come to life no matter what serpentine path life takes me on... because that's what leaders do. What I am coming to realize is that me wanting to make a difference outside of my world is actually making an even bigger difference within myself.  

#NeverthelessShePersisted

-Suhitha Kosuri

 

I was interviewed for a intern position at a startup and very quickly, I realized that I was the only female in the office. My interviewer was very direct and the impostor syndrome started to set in. It was very intimidating at first, but I ended up being hired after I persisted to show them examples of my work. It ended up being one of the coolest groups of people I have ever worked with.

#NeverthelessShePersisted

- Angie Mejia

Growing up, I always felt pressured to look a certain way. This pressure led to years of self doubt, low confidence, and an obsession with weight loss. But eventually I realized that my value is not rooted in the way I look, but the way I think. Today I always try to focus on living a healthy lifestyle--for both my body and especially my brain.

#NeverthelessShePersisted

-Leila Mohaddes

As I was growing up, my mom was often forced to put her career on hold to help raise my brother and I. Especially in the fast paced world of tech, this put her goals at odds with family life. Over the years, she really emphasized to me the value of communication, and it was these skills that allowed her to strike a great work-life balance with the help of her superiors and colleagues. Her hard work has really paid off recently as I have gone to college, and I am so proud that she is able to pursue her passions in tech even more. I feel so lucky to have been brought up by someone that is so dedicated, kind, and a great role model.

#NeverthelessShePersisted

- Deeksha Chaturvedi

Woman of the Week: Edith Green

Congresswoman Edith Green (2nd woman senator from Oregon, served as a U.S. Senator from 1955-1974)

Congresswoman Edith Green (2nd woman senator from Oregon, served as a U.S. Senator from 1955-1974)

We Are WoWed Because:

This past week marked 2017’s “Equal Pay Day” across the United States. For this week’s WoW, we therefore want to recognize an inspiring woman who paved the way for equal pay in America.

Berkeley Women in Business appreciates Congresswoman Edith Green for all of her trailblazing in the United States Senate to establish equality for women in the workforce. Aside from helping pass other bills such as the 1972 Equal Opportunity in Education Act, better known as Title IX, Green notably introduced the “Equal Pay Act” in Congress over 50 years ago to try to mend the wage gap among genders. She faced extensive sexism in congress, but used her resources and personal drive to make positive change for women everywhere.

This week, and every week, BWIB educates women about their impact in the workforce, and we strive to emulate one of our role models, Congresswoman Edith Green, who impacted many future generations of women with her direct influence on the treatment of women in the workforce. Happy Equal Pay Day from all of us at BWIB!

Building a Movement

On January 21st, 2017, many of our BWIB members joined the global protests to support women’s rights.  Below are some of their experiences at the Women’s March in San Francisco and Oakland.

Cher Su:

I went to the Women's March this past Saturday to support our fundamental rights, but did not know the lasting impact that it would leave in American history. Being surrounded by thousands of people with the same beliefs as I have was so empowering and made me even more passionate about this very important topic. I remember tears welling up in my eyes as I looked at all of the men and women activists who so deeply care about our society that they will stand out in the pouring rain for hours on end to voice their opinions and to spark a change. I am so proud to have marched alongside history in the making. This was an amazing first marching experience and I know I will be attending more events like this.

 

Deeksha:

Attending the women’s march was such an honor for me. I ended up convincing six of my friends to come and join me, and together we spent our morning making clever signs to show our support. This preparation, along with seeing and hearing news from other marches around the world, made me proud of all of the individuals who stood in solidarity and showed their support. Walking through the streets of SF on Saturday was heartwarming—there were families, police officers and community members cheering as we marched. It was truly unifying, and enabled me to participate in the advancement of a cause that is near to my heart!

To read more about Deeksha’s experience, check out her blog at Uncoveredshecrets.blogspot.com

 

Winnie:

I was really pleasantly surprised by the great turn out at the march in San Francisco despite the heavy rain, and honestly it was so empowering to see so many people gathered together to fight for equality, love, and peace.

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Pallavi:

It was a really empowering experience being surrounded by so many individuals who were standing up for not only their rights but the rights of so many others. The atmosphere was electric, filled with love, energy and hope for change. It was by far, one of the most impactful experiences of my life and I am honored to have marched for such a meaningful cause.

 

Natasha

The day of the San Francisco Women’s March was just like any other, as I made an entirely spur-of-the moment decision to attend based off of my inherent feminism and my dislike of the policies of the Trump administration, specifically concerning women’s rights, immigration, and islamophobia. Although I have never participated in such a large-scale march or protest before, I am so glad that I attended, because it was one of the most amazing, inspirational days of my life. After disembarking off the BART station in San Francisco, my friends and I expected to walk the rest of the way to the Civic Center, but instead found ourselves caught up in the throng of people marching towards Embarcadero, and decided to join them. It was extremely inspiring and uplifting to just be a part of the mass of people all moving forward together with a single cause in mind: peace, unity, and equality for all in America, and resistance against an administration that is attempting to divide us. I will carry forward with me my memories of that day, and in particular the fact that the power of the people is a force strong enough to overpower even the highest elected official.

 

How to be a Financially Independent Woman

By: Ana Claire Mancia

I will never forget the moment. I was 13, and chatting with a friend’s mother, who also happened to be the wife of an extremely wealthy, powerful Hollywood executive. We were sitting in her beautiful home in the LA Hills, as her personal manicurist scrubbed her feet. She looked me straight in the eye. 

“Don’t EVER depend on a man for money. Do you promise?”

I nodded, in shock.

“Promise me you will make your own income, start your own career, and never let your husband control all your finances.”

“Okay, I promise.”

I looked around her magnificent house; the sparkling marble tile and never-ending rooms. I watched all the maids scuttling around, making sure that lunch was prepared and nothing had accumulated dust in the past hour. My gaze turned back to the woman, as she examined her soapy feet. Everything made sense now.

I never forgot her words, and still keep them at the forefront of my brain. I am determined to create my own financial success and never be completely dependent on a man. The freedoms that come with providing for yourself are indescribable. You do not have to ask for permission to spend. You do not have to worry about creating a financial burden for your partner. You can feel 100% in control of your life, economically. With that, I have devised 5 guidelines for women seeking financial independence. 

1. Educate yourself in financial literacy. Understand your cash flow, and track your income and expenses. 

A financially independent woman knows exactly where her money is coming and going. She is extremely knowledgeable regarding money management and can make informed decisions with her financial resources. She does not overspend, and she documents her monthly cash flow. 

2. Identify your goals and set your budget. 

A financially independent woman has clear goals in mind. For example, perhaps the goal is to buy a new car. She sets her budget around those goals and manages her money accordingly. She takes responsibility, and understands that some sacrifice may be involved in order to reach those goals. 

3. Eliminate any debt. 

Eradicating debt should be a top priority. A woman cannot be financially independent until all debt is paid off. 

Further reading: http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-easy-ways-to-pay-off-debt

4. In your relationship, maintain a level of equality in terms of financial responsibilities. 

Chances are, one partner will earn more than the other. That is completely okay. The most important thing is for both people to contribute what they can, and not to let the relationship be one-sided. Be honest and open with your partner, and split up the living expenses in a fair way. Find a proportion that works for both of you (ex: 60-40). However, there is an equal level of control. The most important concept is to avoid being completely dependent on someone, to the point where you are helpless without them. A financially independent woman holds herself accountable and is a valuable contributor. 

5. Learn to save and invest – early!

Plan for the unexpected by starting an emergency savings fund. Learn about the different securities you can invest in such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs. Ask someone you trust to help you understand savings vehicles and how to save/invest intelligently. 

The more comfortable you become with these terms, the easier it will be to achieve financial independence. 

Resources: 

http://reachfinancialindependence.com/

https://www.womenandmoney.com/2013/02/01/financial-independence-for-women

About the Author:

Ana Claire Mancia is a UC Berkeley student planning to major in Business Administration and Political Science. At Berkeley Women in Business, she is on the Communications Committee and regularly writes blog posts for the organization. She is extremely committed to gender equality and the elimination of violence against women. 

A Woman in a Patriarchal Society

A Day in the Life

By: Salma Madi

When I received my acceptance letter to be a child protection and advocacy intern at UNICEF Egypt this past May, I was completely and utterly over the moon. Not only was I blessed to have the opportunity of working with Syrian refugees and Egyptian Street children, but the first through that ran through my head was: finally, a non-Egyptian organization that will treat me based on my intelligence and personal value instead of my gender. Shouldn’t it be a concern that my excitement was based on an opportunity to finally be treated equally? Isn’t that something I should already be granted and feel in my everyday life? A wave of conflicting thoughts clouded my mind, but I soon came to the realization that based on where I’ve been raised and the society I associate myself with, gender equality is a large and pressing issue that’s seldom spoken about and considered highly taboo to discuss.

Growing up female in a strongly conservative, patriarchal society in Egypt has led me to see my rights as a rare privilege instead of a fundamental necessity. It gets to the point where if someone in the society I interact with treats me with the same respect as they would towards a man, I’m left surprised and somewhat confused at this rare occurrence. I put all of those negative thoughts and experiences behind me, because UNICEF was going to be different. I was finally going to be treated as an equal.

I walked into the office on my first day nervous and excited, but excited for the new journey I was embarking on. First, I had a debrief with the director of the program who was a middle aged male. Typical, I thought to myself. He greeted me with a warm welcome, proceeded to inform me that I was the only female intern and as a result I’d be working with a female supervisor. “So you’re more comfortable”, he said to me. I was somewhat confused and taken aback at what I’d just heard but had no choice other than to listen to what I was told. Ironically, my supervisor was the only female head in the entire department, and based on her past experiences she was an extremely hardworking and ambitious woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer. I worked with her for the entire five weeks I spent at UNICEF, and observed how her tone of voice and the way she carried herself changed depending on the gender of who she was interacting with. When working with her male counterparts, it was as if she felt the need to prove herself or prove her worth. She had to work twice as hard to be taken seriously solely due to the body parts she was born with. Additionally, I was periodically asked if I needed help or assistance by my male supervisors, while the male interns were left to figure things out by themselves, or take initiative to ask for help if they needed it (God forbid they were to sacrifice their masculinity and ask for assistance). In a sense, I felt that I was looked upon as fragile, and at times as a damsel in distress simply because I’m a female. It’s interesting to see how much of an impact the society we live in has on way people interact with each other in the workplace.

"In a sense, I felt that I was looked upon as fragile, and at times as a damsel in distress simply because I’m a female."

As a strong advocate for gender equality and women’s rights, I had high hopes for UNICEF in terms of upholding gender equality since it’s an international organization and part of the United Nations. I thought I would finally be treated based on what’s inside my head as opposed to my body. However, it dawned on me that no matter where you are in the world and no matter how progressive the society is, unfortunately there will always be an element of inequality in the workplace due to the way humanity has evolved globally. It’s an issue that we must continue to actively battle on a daily basis until we start seeing change. On another note, although Hillary Clinton wasn’t successfully able to break the glass ceiling and win the election despite her high qualifications and history in foreign service, that doesn’t mean we should lose hope in any way. Rarely is it that we achieve success the first time we try to incite change as a society. It just means we should stand back up and fight harder for however many more attempts it takes till we get it right. Growing up, my mother always told me that nothing good in life ever comes easy, and as I’ve acquired more life experience and faced countless obstacles, it’s become a lifestyle I live by.

 

How to be Taken Seriously, as a Young Female Leader

By Ana Claire Mancia

I am nineteen years old and manage a swim lesson company in Los Angeles. For the past several years, I have helped develop the company and watched it grow into a large organization with thousands of clients. I currently handle many of the company’s operations, especially in the summer when our work schedule is extremely busy. We have about 10 employees who teach swim lessons, and I supervise our program.

Learning to be taken seriously as a young female is one of the hardest things I’ve ever learned. I remember attending my first business conference, to network and speak about the company. I didn’t entirely know what “business casual attire” meant at 17 years old, since our company’s uniform was a swimsuit. I put on a regular, colorful dress and drove to the conference, not expecting that I would be the only person under 25 and clearly not dressed for the occasion!

When I spoke about our organization to a large room of people, I knew they viewed me as a young, inexperienced kid who was in the wrong place. It was definitely a cringe-worthy morning. What bothered me the most however, was the amount of professional men who sat next to me afterward and said things like:

“You’re very pretty.”

“How old are you?”

“Do you actually run a swim company?”

“Are you single?”

I left the conference embarrassed and angry that I hadn’t been taken seriously. Meanwhile, I was watching my company expand and our revenue nearly doubling each year. I quickly learned from that experience, and vowed to always be taken seriously.

Three years later, I know that as a young female, you must always be 10 steps ahead of everyone else. When people question you, you must be ready to prove how knowledgeable you are and convince them to trust you. You must exude capability and confidence, until people actually believe you.

"You must always be 10 steps ahead of everyone else."

Unfortunately, there is very little room for mistake in my role. If I do something incorrectly, it is much harder to recover from it. I have learned to be twice as careful as a man would be, to always make sure there are zero errors.

Our staff respects me because I value them and treat them with respect in return. I try very hard to always treat them as my equals, by taking their suggestions into account and giving them freedom and flexibility in their teaching style. I see my role as just making sure each day runs smoothly, because I trust them to deliver good service to our clients and do their job correctly. Our mutual trust has been crucial in terms of maintaining a strong relationship.

My job has gotten significantly easier as time goes on. Our clients and partners have learned to take me seriously and respect me. The amount of times my authority is questioned has drastically decreased.

This shift in attitude occurred because I am now extremely conscious of how I present myself, and how I speak. As a young female in charge, it is important to know every detail of your company because skeptics will almost certainly quiz you. They are searching for proof that you are capable of being a professional leader. Learning to shut them down has been thrilling.

"I am now extremely conscious of how I present myself, and how I speak."

I am proud of how much the company has grown, over the past five years. In the summer, I usually work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, because there are so many clients and not enough employees. We continuously need to hire more staff, and obtain more pool space. After teaching swim lessons, I am at my computer for hours, processing invoices, sending emails, calling clients, booking people, and creating schedules. Though this sounds like a nightmare, I sincerely enjoy it because we have taught thousands of children to swim in LA County. Drowning is still the leading cause of death for children in California.

In conclusion, young female leaders must always be ahead of the game. With the odds stacked against us, we are forced to overcome distrust, skepticism, objectification, and disrespectful treatment. I pushed through it by becoming as educated as possible. I am not afraid to show my authority, and prove my ability to operate a company. I pay attention to every detail, and search for errors. The company requires an enormous investment of my time – but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

 

Dress Profesh

Ladies, we all know how hard it can be to dress well in the workplace and still be taken seriously. A woman has to be conscious of so many different factors, that shopping for professional clothes can be discouraging. Our goal is not to give women more rules, because we have enough rules already. This is just meant to be a guide on how to be your best self and succeed in your professional life. We are here to give you 8 empowering rules to abide by when dressing profesh.

For more tips on how to dress to impress, check out Berkeley Women in Business on Pinterest!