There are many theories and interpretations on what causes women to be disadvantaged and unequally represented especially regarding work, but also in other fields of life; A glass ceiling is an invisible obstacle that prevents a woman from advancing in her career, while a discriminatory practice that keeps women at the bottom of the job scale is called a sticky floor. The majority of decision makers are men, both in business and politics. Wage gaps exist even in the most gender equal societies of the world. Women often face many unfair obstacles that make it harder for them to advance their careers, ranging from the pressure of staying home taking care of the children to belittling attitudes that force women to prove that they’re just as capable as their male colleagues.
If you take a look at the “Women’s First” , a list of achievements by women, it’s hard to find areas where women were truly first, and not just first after men. It is quite disheartening that very often to achieve something as a woman is to do something that has already been done by a man. From the standpoint of professional achievement, women have to face being constantly compared to men.
Yet, there are women who managed to defy this fate seemingly against all odds. Take for example Marie Curie. Yes, she was the first woman to receive the Nobel prize, but she was also the first ever person to receive a Nobel prize in two different fields, both chemistry and physics. She is one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. Frances Perkins was the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. cabinet and helped pave way for the participation of women in work life. But Perkins was also shaping policies that influenced the lives of millions of men. She was working for the whole society, both men and women. The one small step for man taken by Armstrong was enabled by the in-flight software developed by Margaret Hamilton, a pioneer in software engineering, and her team. When looking at the young self-made entrepreneurial generation of today of Alaa Murabit, Divya Nag, and the like, one can only guess what they will accomplish in the span of their whole career.
Margaret Hamilton and the code her team wrote for the Apollo project.
This International women’s day, we celebrate ambitious women; those who broke off from sticky floors, who shattered the glass ceilings with a smash, and who didn’t ask for a permission to excel. Women who are successful in what they do both as women – and just purely as exceptional people.
AIESEC has been recognized as one of the most freedom-centered democratic workplaces for 10 consecutive years by WorldBlu. AIESEC’s youth empowerment defies gender norms, through numerous projects focusing on the Sustainable Development Goal 5, and through both young women and men that are represented in the top levels of the organization. They were all chosen for their roles not because or despite their gender, but because they were the best people for the job. AIESEC doesn’t discriminate based on gender.
Everyone should have the opportunity to explore their passions, and strive to become the best version of themselves, no matter their gender. So go for the career that you want, whether that is to defy the prevalent norm, or not, and don’t let others’ expectations hold you back. Dare to believe that you are good enough for it.