By Natalie Broda
Thursday, March 8 is International Women’s Day and to celebrate, The Oakland Press is looking to give voice to women across the county.
Throughout March, which is also National Women’s History Month, we’ll be asking women from different industries and walks of life to explore what it means to them to be a woman in this day and age- professionally and personally.
If you know of a woman who should be recognized, email Natalie Broda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What is your industry and job title? How long have you been in the industry?
A: Senior Account Executive. Public Relations and Digital Marketing. I have been in the communications industry for more than 20 years, the majority of it as a print journalist and editor with Gannett as both an investigative journalist, film writer and a managing editor. Then I transitioned to Marx Layne, a digital marketing public relations agency.
I am still in newsrooms constantly and the changes are remarkable. There are more women editors now than in any other time that I’ve ever witnessed. These women are calling out injustices, including micro-aggressions, for women and people of color, that happen daily.
Q: How has the professional world changed for women over the past five years in your eyes?
A: Newsrooms have been good for women over the past several decades as journalists, for the most part, are interested in social justice. Of course it is far from perfect and we’ve all heard #metoo issues exposed in working newsrooms. Working with PR and digital media agencies my entire career, I have seen more women rise through the ranks over the past five years than in any other period that I’ve been in this field. However, I still hear much talk about pay inequality in all fields, including communications. Fortunately for me, it’s an issue that the company I work for, Marx Layne, actively has tackled. We happen to have a CEO who is a man, who not only listens, he is very passionate and outspoken about inclusion and equality. He promotes and listens. Seeing women in VP leadership roles here was a strong reason why I joined the team.
Because of my field, I work with women in many, many different industries and I still hear regularly of other women getting held back from promotions – or are subjects of micro-aggressions such as negative comments made when they have to leave work early to get to a child’s soccer game even if they come to work early to make up for it. Yet when men do so, even without putting in extra hours, they are praised for being such a good dad.
Some things haven’t changed, walk down the hallway in many businesses and if a woman and man are coming toward each other, I will still bet that the majority of the time, you have to see the women step aside. I actually stopped doing that. Being polite should go both ways. Overall however, you would be hard-pressed to find a woman who, no matter what her rank or achievements, is still dealing with men interrupting or talking over them. Bottom line, however, is pay and leadership roles, it’s improving perhaps faster in this industry than many others.
Q: What do the words “women’s rights movement” mean to you, professionally and personally, respectively?
A: It means, in a nutshell, everything. Exactly like the quote: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” by Mahatma Gandhi. This holds true for women.
I remember the days when as a young beat reporter covering crime, I had older male police officials either ignore me, or even go as far as referring to me as “sweetie” and “honey.” They stopped when I would call them “sweetie” right back. I remember some who wouldn’t want to show me police reports that were gruesome, yet would hand them to the male reporters in the room. Those days aren’t as frequent, thank goodness. We are still worlds away from equality, however.
I find it ironic that a woman is expected to come to work every day with a face full of makeup, heels, hose, dresses, hair blown out, etc, in order to be considered “put together.” And of course we are expected to arrive to work at the same time as a man, looking “put together,” being on our game. So, that means we either get less sleep and wake earlier than a man to get ready, or go to bed earlier which takes away time from our personal lives. All this AND still get paid less, pay more for insurance and have less opportunity for leadership roles? I call BS. Women’s rights movements (mean) equal pay, equal opportunity.
Q: What for you defines a strong woman?
A: Great question. A strong woman is one who acknowledges there are still tremendous inequalities both outside and in the workplace. Denying it provides perfect reason to avoid working for change. A strong woman doesn’t accept the status quo. Speaking out means everything.
A strong woman is one doesn’t cower away from the word “feminism” because feminism simply means “equality.” Strong women look out for other women both in and out of the workplace. I 100 percent believe in sisterhood both in and out of the workplace, especially when working toward inclusion and equality. I love what Michelle Obama said “Don’t let anyone speak for you and don’t rely on others to fight for you.” I see this happening in many (ways) including now the gun control movement. Women are fed up with male dominated Washington being swayed by the NRA and are taking matters into their own hands with activism to evoke change.