Today is International Women’s Day and with movements like #TimesUp and #MentorHer gaining momentum, it finally seems like there is a light on the horizon for women in the workplace. We’re finally starting to have meaningful and purposeful conversations about the gender pay gap, as well as seeing movement towards more women in leadership positions. This year’s International Women’s Day is focused on the campaign #PressForProgress. We #PressForProgress for women in the workplace with hopes that one day our daughters, and sons, can experience a level playing field free from gender discrimination in their professional lives.
In recognition of International Women’s Day, I want to take the time today to thank the women who have mentored me and pushed me to become the person I am, both personally and professionally, like my research adviser from Roanoke pictured with me here. Unknowingly, my mentors did all the things that HR professionals tell coaches, managers, and leaders to do when mentoring their employees: build confidence, allow for meaningful dialogue, provide opportunities for advancement, provide help when work or life feel overwhelming, and help someone see that they can be so much more than they think they can. These women paved the way for me to become a strong woman who does not see the gender bias boundaries in front of me but rather challenges them and strives to change them.
Without these women, I wouldn’t have pursued sports, gone to college, realized my passion for HR, or had the opportunity to be in a leadership-pipelined internship. Without them, I wouldn’t have known how powerful my voice can be as an agent for change. They #PressedForProgress before there was a hashtag, and I intend to further that conversation.
I #PressForProgress as my mentors did so that the women that I mentor or have the opportunity to interact with will have so many more opportunities and chances for development that I could have ever dreamed of. I #PressForProgress in hopes that the generations of women to come won’t have to. I #PressForProgress so that I no longer have to see campaigns like #TimesUp and #MentorHer but rather see media stories about women becoming leaders and men cheering them on. I dream of a day when women finally feel safe and empowered in the workplace. I feel that change coming and that change is here to stay.
Courtney Yoke is Graduate Assistant in the Graduate HRD program at Villanova University. She serves as the Director of Public Relations and Advertising for the VUSHRM chapter. Learn more about her here!