On March 3rd, 2016, at 6:15 PM Pacific time, I was in the VIP Employees Only, back room of the dresses department at the Nordstrom in Bellevue, irresponsibly not doing my job. Instead, beautiful iphone in hand, (RIP Steven) I concede to have been streaming the live feed of a small panel discussion hosted downtown by AIGA, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Seattle.
The night’s discussion titled “Woman Up”, focused on the many facets in gender equity with a special look into how it affects women working in the field of design. The moderator of the discussion, Gina Davis, creative director at Pontaray, set varsity pace for the discussion by stating that no interest was held in dismissing the consistent presence of grey matter. Of course every topic covered, at the risk of sounding absolute, is always contextual. And at the risk of sounding Drakeonian myself, Nothing Was The Same for me after this discussion.
On the panel were five women holding positions of leadership serving as ideal creative models for companies such as Microsoft, Teague, Hum Creative, Jackson Fish Market, and the prestigious Cornish College of the Arts. Shamelessly, I screen-grabbed a shot on my iphone of one of you speaking so that I could remind the little light of mine to channel her inner Woman Up panelist when times get tough.
Lets dive in, shall we?
100 years ago, American women won the right to vote. In 2014, women working full time were paid just 79 cents to the man’s dollar. In 2016, 87% of private equity funding goes to exclusively male teams while the opposing 13% may just be the minority thanks to the female COO alongside its male CEO. And internationally speaking, Saudi Arabian women won the right to vote, just this year. What the actual fuck.
Preceding these minor details of the night……….. the discussion garnered light on the importance of mentorship. In living our own brand that is our persona, the concept of appointing our personal board of directors was stressed, which brought about the question of when someone feels ready to become a mentor. As women, in order to continue making strides towards gender equity, the act of frequently communicating our goals to those around us, was established as a simple action we can be more conscious of taking.
As the discussion progressed, both panelists and audience members found their hands calloused enough to hold onto hotter topics. While meriting a completely separate discussion itself, diversity in the workplace took the scene. If the pay gap is a disgrace between genders, it plunges for Women of Color. As we collectively hold our own selves accountable to fight for gender equity, our strides become more methodical. Why is it, that in company X, I fail to see a single woman holding a position of leadership? How can my passion reflected in my emotions against such fatuity be constructed into calm and strategic discussion with the opposing side?
In attempts to pack the swiftest punches from the discussion into this piece, what I took to be the single most important moment of the night reverts to our beloved first woman to become the United States Secretary of State, Madeline Albright.
Always remember, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women.”
Would it be wise to omit that from the signature in my e-mails? Or would it be genius to include it??