This International Women’s Day is calling on all to #BreakTheBias. Here, members of our team share their experiences of gender bias that they would like to – or have had to – break in their lives and careers.
International Women’s Day 2022 campaign theme is #BreakTheBias:
“Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.”
Our team share their experiences of wanting – or having – to break the bias:
“As a Lebanese woman growing up in Cyprus and now in London – I am passionate about working in ways that are culturally sensitive – especially considering the westernisation of mental health systems – at times leaving minorities feeling excluded from the conversation. As DEI Lead at Orri I work alongside the team in bridging this gap and working in an identity informed manner from a position of cultural humility. It is my passion to see more representation within the eating disorder field – and I work towards this passion every day in my practice as an anti-racist ally as well as in my therapeutic work.”
“When growing up, I always had dolls although I wanted Meccano, but never got them. My brothers always got this for presents and I just kept getting dolls, even though they never looked like me. At school, I wanted to do metalwork and woodwork but was informed that this was for boys only, and girls had to do needlework and cooking. I complained to my father who discussed it with the Headmaster, and they allowed me to do one term of metalwork and woodwork combined, but after this, I had to join the cooking and needlework classes for the remainder of the year. I always had the internal conflict that Meccano was for boys; finally this year, I decided to buy my own Meccano. I will open the box on my birthday with a celebratory beverage.”
“One of the narratives I hear frequently in my work with women and young girls is a belief that in order to be valuable, lovable, we must be considered ‘beautiful’. Believing there is a correlation between our appearance and our worth has the potential to be incredibly damaging and it is also more prevalent amongst women. The language we use around children has been studied and it is widely recognised that little girls are often celebrated for their ‘beauty’ and boys are celebrated for their ‘strength’. Undoing this notion requires that we get curious about the language we use. It requires that we celebrate the values and qualities in each other that have nothing to do with the way that we look. I feel passionate that collectively we write a new, more inclusive and diverse script.”
“I have always worked in male led businesses and industries and one of the daily joys of working in a female led business is not being constantly told I should “smile more”! I’m very proud to be COO at Orri and have such impressive women working alongside me. That said, one of our biggest challenges in eating disorders is ensuring it is not seen as a “women’s issue”. Whilst it statistically affects more women it can take hold of anyone and everyone should have access to treatment.”
“I wish we’d break the gendering of baby and children’s clothes and toys. I also had a personal experience of being criticised and downgraded in a performance appraisal as I left work on time (to pick up my child from nursery) – even though it was acknowledged that there were no issues with my work. Male colleagues who left on time did not get the same feedback. Lastly, the gendering of character traits and vulnerability correlating to ‘weakness’ or as a more ‘feminine’ trait.”
“I am a career focused woman, that had to deal with the gender bias of being a working mum. This was even harder during the first 7 years of my son’s life I was a single parent, which has its own stigma. Unfortunately, at company I was working at when my son was 2-4 years old, there was a change management, and the new manager did not provide the support needed. I was expected more and more to work outside of my core hours, plus I was travelling across the UK to various sites. After 12 months this wasn’t sustainable, and it was made clear to me that if I couldn’t do the hours expected that the role wasn’t for me. I felt this was due to the manager not understanding or wanting to understand that I needed a work life balance, regardless of being a single parent. I also wanted to make a change to take the pressures away to truly focus on being a present parent whilst at home. This experience left my very nervous and anxious about mentioning I had a child, the subtle looks I would get during interviews quickly made me realise that being a mother was an inconvenience for a lot of organisations. Even more so when they knew I was a single parent.
“This was a horrid situation to be in, I was proud that I was career driven and providing a good life for my son but felt shamed that I was not in a relationship, and this somehow made me worth less to employers. After a period, I decided to pause my career and worked in administrative roles in various local schools. This allowed me the opportunity to really be there for my son, the drop offs, the pickups, the holidays. I did this for 4 years and it was one of the best decisions for us. However, this is not an option for everyone, and I am grateful I was able to do this.
“As my son got older, I knew I was more than ready to get reignite my career, but I was nervous! I was clear and upfront during my interviews at Orri from the start. After 8 months and two promotions I think it’s safe to say they stuck to their word and have been supportive and flexible since day one – it was the best decision I made joining the Orri community. I have unconditional support and encouragement from everyone and that is priceless to me.
“The moral of my story is, don’t let someone shame you about your personal situation, don’t forget your worth and trust that fair and supportive employers do exist, we are all extremely lucky to work for such a caring, kind and supporting organisation! Orri has earned my loyalty, commitment, and respect and in return I am here for the long haul!”