So, another International Women’s Day (IWD) has come and gone. The theme for this year was ‘Break the Bias.’ Umpteen articles were written, the social media was brimming with pictures, and with quotes and views from a cross section of population across the world.
Each one had her own definition of what ‘bias’ meant and how she would break it. Some emphasised on women attrition, empowerment for women in rural communities, not feeling guilty on being a mother and having to work, biases in the workplace when it comes to promotions and leadership positions and of course biases towards other communities and the minorities.
In a thought provoking session organised by the International Coaching Federation Mumbai Chapter, the discussion revolved on the way women identify themselves with their surnames. The questions that plagued us were – Why should women not retain their original surnames? Do they really need to be known by their husband’s surname? Can she not have both the surnames? Does she need a surname at all? Then, there was a heartwarming share of how a woman who underwent a critical surgery faced discrimination at her workplace because of it. People do not realise that an overdose of sympathy can actually be counterproductive!
Breaking those biases
The internal session within my organisation also witnessed an interesting mix of stories and shares. What really stood out amidst all these conversations were the biases that we women permit to reside in our mind. Change if any, has to begin internally!
As professionals, women make it hard on themselves and fall prey to just about every barb, comment, and/or sarcasm that points fingers in her capability to have a healthy work-life balance. Here are some methods shared by women that have helped them overcome their struggle within their mind and break free.
- Learning to say NO
My earlier article on this subject touched upon the fact that if you cannot learn to say ‘no’, your saying ‘yes’ will hold little merit. It is how you stand up for what you believe in is what really matters in the end. Stay authentic to your own self.
- Develop an entrepreneurial sprit
I am not talking of being agile or flexible. This is about taking risks. Jumping into the unknown. You grow only when you move out of your comfort zone. Drop that blanket of false security that you have allowed yourself to wallow in and believe in your own strengths.
- Manage your finances
This is very personal to me as well. I never learnt how to handle my finances until a couple of years back. What followed the change was an eye-opener. Get a grip on your money and invest wisely. Understand that investments and saving are two different things altogether.
- Be a collaborator and not a competitor
It pains me each time I hear someone say, ‘women are women’s worse enemies.’ When women collaborate, magic happens. We can empower our tribe with our experiences, insights and stories. Collaboration is the way to growth.
- Develop negotiation skills
Women are great at bargaining with vendors but when it comes to getting the right bargain with regards to their jobs, promotions, salary and career progression, somehow, they tend to take a backseat and hesitate. Negotiation is a fine art and women must learn to stand up to themselves and feel proud of what they bring to the table.
- Make every day your day
When my son was 10, I bought him a party shirt and gave him strict instructions to wear it only on special occasions. Imagine my dismay when he wore it the very next day and went off to play. On being confronted, his answer was simple – ‘What’s different about a party day? For me, today is party day so I wore it.’ The lesson that every day is my day has stayed with me ever since. Special days are good reminders, but it is up to us to make every day special.
Make yourself the first thought and not an afterthought. That is the only way we can break the biases that have entrenched themselves deep in our mind. Say goodbye to biases!
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