Sunday, March 8th marks International Women’s Day. The UN’s webpage for the day describes it as, “…a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.” That sounds empowering!
The women in the Philly QuotaPath office decided to get together for lunch and have a casual chat about our experiences, accomplishments, and struggles, both large scale and daily. But when asked the question, “What does this day mean to you?” no one could really answer. It was a bit of a cricket situation before we all disclosed that none of us knew the origin of the holiday that’s celebrating everyone in the room.
In some countries, it’s just another day on the calendar yet others celebrate it more seriously, some even declare it a public holiday. Melanie Taube, Head of Creative Marketing, lived in Russia for a period of time and shared a lovely story about how much her father did on this day for the women in his life — delivering beautiful flowers to his daughter, wife, and colleagues. For others, the only parallel was the Women’s March in 2017, just one day after the presidential inauguration, where women across the globe came together and marched in protest.
It was neat because we all had so many shared experiences. What particularly rang true was how we all felt supported by QuotaPath. Marguerite Hamilton, Software Engineer, got emotional talking about much it meant to her and her new family for the time QuotaPath offered for maternity leave, and how much she appreciated the considerations as a new mother returning back to the office. Several of us in the room, in our own form and fashion, said that we felt comfortable bringing up issues with our CEO, AJ Bruno, and other members of the leadership team and that we trusted that things would be addressed and followed through. This made me feel proud to work for an organization that cares so much about all of us, collectively and individually.
We talked about a few of our greatest accomplishments and a powerful theme here was not to be afraid to carve your own path and ask for what you want (promotions, title change, more responsibility, salary increases). Alongside this topic of accomplishments, Mariclare Hall, Director of Product, told us about a black trans panel at the William Way LGBTQ Community Center she recently attended. When a member of the panel was asked about their greatest accomplishment they answered with, “Being alive.” It was a great reminder that we should all be aware of our privilege.
But the truth is, it’s still challenging being women (and any/all marginalized group) working in a male-dominated industry, such as the tech industry. Many of us felt that throughout our careers, we’ve had to work harder to be respected, trusted and listened to. Zoe Wolfe, Software Engineer, said that on her first day of Computer Programming class the professor asked her if she was sure she was in the right place – she was the only female student in the 20 person class. She’s also one of the brightest and most driven college students I know.
While there’s still great progress to be made for gender equality and equity, it felt nice taking a step away from our busy calendars to share lunch and conversation with a room of powerful, intelligent, and thoughtful women. (I would even say it even felt cathartic!) We questioned why we hadn’t done this before and made a plan to have more intentional gatherings with each other. With that, we at QuotaPath wish a happy International Women’s Day to all the badass women out there who are putting in the work, building businesses, driving change and innovation, mentoring others, balancing work and families, and all the million and one other things you’re all doing to stay happy and healthy!