“You only got this role because you’re a woman”
On Wednesday 9th March Nicola Broomham, Director of Estate Agency, hosted our International Women’s Day event, inviting 2 influential female figures to speak at deverellsmith, who have both faced and overcome barriers to entry in different ways.
Kicking off our #Breakthebias event was Melissa Hexter, European Powerlifting Champion, showing us just how powerful women can be when faced with subtle sexism in the corporate world. Melissa opened the barstool by taking us through how the subtle impacts of sexism can take effect throughout the hierarchy of the corporate ladder, showing us that the more senior the role, the less women you will see in these positions.
But why is this? Melissa goes onto explain that with the lack of role models throughout a women’s life, showing they can get these managerial roles, they have less people to relate to and in turn will not apply. She explains that “women may be less confident because we are told to be, and in turn seek less opportunity” this all stemming from indirect sexism.
Continuing this point, she highlighted the fact that the ideal corporate traits are more inclined towards the idealised traits of men, and whilst men will be praised for these traits, women will be criticised if they are seen to be too confident or assertive.
Melissa highlighted some great ways in which we can help to combat negative sexism at an individual level, including the importance of having male allyship within the workplace. Men who will help women succeed and ensure their voices are being heard. She also emphasised the importance of “starting at home, raising your children differently this is where it starts.”, and doing the best you can to influence young girls giving them the confidence to do so, and not enforcing the idea that you will have to find a “rich man” to be financially supported.Finally, she mentions that women need to support one another and seek as many opportunities as they can, because after all “If we include more women, we are all going to make more money”
Our second speaker of the day was Amy Shields, Sales Director at Sprift, who was also the first ever female branch manager at Romans. She spoke about her experience working in the very male dominated environment of technology and how as a woman she had to shout that little bit louder to be heard. She talked us through her experiences in the work force after coming out as gay, and how she was lucky to have a lot of male support at work and she was accepted for who she is. She mentioned that “if you have the right manager, you should be able to talk to them about anything in life, male or female”, highlighting the importance of having emotional support in a professional setting for everyone.
She also opened about her struggles with anxiety throughout adulthood, and how this affected her daily life. She shared that at one point she was unable to leave the house, but explained that pushing herself to do small things, even just walking around the block, helped her to overcome the small hurdles anxiety presented.