Thursday, 8 March 2018

Deaf Girly and International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day. And this year's theme is #PressforProgress.

Now, I am going to be honest with you, this is the first year I've ever really got my head around International Women's Day and a lot of that has to do with the company I've been contracting for. It's an amazing global company with some incredible women in senior positions who are all committed to inspiring, supporting and uplifting future generations of women to go after what they want.

I've had the honour of interviewing some of these women. They've shared some amazing stories about how they've faced real discrimination because of their gender. They've shared success stories of when someone has stood up for them, believed in them and fought for their career progression.

So why has it taken until 2018 for me to really take notice of International Women's Day?

Believe me, I have asked myself that question a lot this week. And I think the answer is, that I've been very lucky in my career and I think that I can honestly say that I don't think I've been discriminated against because of my gender. My deafness however, is another matter.

I have deafinitely been discriminated against because of my deafness. I've written about it here in fact.

A screen capture of Deaf Girly's blog about employment

And for the last 15 years of my career, this has been the issue I've been focused on. Pushing as hard as I could to prove myself in the workplace. Trying to find new ways of coping in meetings, phone calls, open plan offices. Dressing up my CV to showcase my work. 

Waiting until 2nd interviews before declaring my deafness. Practising those sentences in the mirror before I started a new job. Sentences like, 'I am deaf. I struggle to use the phone so prefer email.' and then forcing myself to stop at that rather than launch into a justifying diatribe about how I could still do just as good a job and forcing myself to project an air of confidence that I could, even if inside I was feeling a little shaky.

Hearing all these women's stories, reading about International Women's Day, if you replace 'woman' with 'deafness' a lot of the stories are interchangeable. 

Now I'm going to state the obvious here, but I think the more we say this, the more chance we have of progress:

Discrimination is wrong on any level. Be it gender. Disability. Race. Anything. We cannot allow it to continue.


But how, if you're a little cog can you stop it? Well you can't always. While I wrote about my employment issue, about being told that my deafness meant a company recalled their offer of interview, I didn't take it any further than sending the company a very strongly worded email. 

I didn't name and shame them. I didn't sue them. I did however go to the toilets and have a little cry. But I hope that my strongly worded email had some impact on that ignorant CEO. I hope she realised I could have sued her ass. And I hope she treats any person she encounters with a disability with more respect than she did me. And I hope she felt a tiny bit guilty for not supporting another woman in her career. 

And that to me is how we can make changes. We can support each other. Whether we are men or women. It shouldn't matter. We shouldn't feel threatened by younger people climbing the career ladder behind us, we should support them. We shouldn't dismiss people with disabilities as not being any less capable, we should support them.

SUPPORT.

And we should do it 365 days a year. Not just on one day.

International Women's Day should spark conversations, pledges and change across all areas of discrimination. It should raise awareness of the different fights women have around the world for equality and to be heard. And it should make us reflect not only on a personal level but also look at the bigger picture.

I'm DG. I am deaf and I am a woman. Neither of these things should lead me to be discriminated against.

Lets #PressforProgress peeps

DG
x

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