Cork women have their say: "Breaking bias requires buckets of courage"

Editor of WoW! Elaine Duggan reached out to Cork women to ask them to have their say on the theme of this year's International Women's Day - Break the Bias
Cork women have their say: "Breaking bias requires buckets of courage"

For the last three years, Chilean photographer, Patricia Andrade has gathered women in her town, Dunmanway, in County Cork for a special photo shoot to mark International Women’s Day. Picture: Patricia Andrade

ANN DOHERTY

CE Cork City Council

As leaders, we need to create spaces where women and people from different backgrounds feel supported: where they believe that their opinion, which may challenge conventional thinking, will be listened to. 

Breaking bias and not just box ticking, requires bucket loads of courage as we need to engage people who do not see the value in this journey. 

Respect is one of our core values at Cork City Council. Our political leaders are demonstrating this through the newly-formed Cork City Council’s Women’s Caucus which celebrates its first birthday this International Women’s Day. 

Furthermore, our Elected Members and officials have been supporting groups like Sanctuary Runners since their establishment. We have shown our commitment to diversity and equality by being the first Irish public building to fly the LGBT Rainbow flag, by supporting Traveller Pride Week every year, by becoming an International Rainbow City and by our proven reputation to empower communities through festivals like the Cork Lifelong Learning Festival. 

Nonetheless, we have more work ahead. Approximately 45% of our city centre residents are from other countries. We estimate that over 100 nationalities are resident in Cork. Cork city needs to ensure that these people, with their very many different life experiences, see Cork as a good place to live and where they can participate fully in civic and community life.

Caroline O’Driscoll — co-founder of I Wish and Technology Media & Telecommunications Tax Leader at Deloitte North and South Europe.
Caroline O’Driscoll — co-founder of I Wish and Technology Media & Telecommunications Tax Leader at Deloitte North and South Europe.

CAROLINE O'DRISCOLL

Co-founder of I Wish and Technology Media & Telecommunications Tax Leader at Deloitte North and South Europe 

“While the global pandemic has fast forwarded many of us into the digital future, women are being left behind. The Global Gender Gap 2021 Report confirmed that closing the gender gap has increased by a generation, from 99.5 years to 135.6 years. Of the 20 fastest growing careers in the world, 15 of them require a background in maths or science yet only 25% of the STEM workforce is female. 

At I Wish we work with girls to improve their exposure to female STEM role models at key pivot points in their lives. 77% of girls surveyed by I Wish said that they didn’t feel confident in their ability in STEM subjects. Is it little wonder when bias is inherently all around them? 

55% of girls who are interested in studying engineering do not have access to it as a subject choice. We must do more to ensure that STEM subject choices more commonly available to boys are equally available to girls. 

"Today there is a 13-year-old-girl sitting in a classroom, full of ability, thinking that she can’t. We need to break the bias so that she knows that she can.” 

Linda O'Connell, St Vincent de Paul National Online & Media Coordinator, Digi Nomad.
Linda O'Connell, St Vincent de Paul National Online & Media Coordinator, Digi Nomad.

LINDA O’CONNELL

St Vincent de Paul National Online & Media Coordinator, Digi Nomad

"Wouldn't it be wonderful as a woman to walk down a street, into an event, or into a work situation where you are accepted as an equal? Imagine a world where we were able to break free of the societal shackles that limit us as females, where one doesn't experience constant levels of intimidation or have to repeat those internal mantras: "I have to be careful and protect myself"; or, "I'm only a woman anyway". I don't know how many times I’ve battled with that stressful inner dialogue of "don't cry, they'll think you’re being an emotional woman and won’t take you seriously”. Yet any aggressive/passive-aggressive behaviour from a man is completely accepted and not seen as any form of emotional expression, but simply as a useful gender trait.

Imagine if you were just seen as "YOU", a person, a human, without having to justify yourself or consistently prove yourself to be as capable as your male colleagues. How many times have we heard successful businesswomen labelled with negative language? How many have tried to have their voices heard over louder, domineering male voices only to be later characterised as being overly sensitive and emotional when asking for the space to be heard?

I don't want to live or work in a world where the only way I am seen or heard as an equal is by raising my voice or becoming aggressive; no one should. But this has been, and still is, the experience of so many women in the world.

Can we treat people based on who they are rather than on the form of their genitals? Worldwide, the birth of a male child is perceived as being more auspicious and advantageous for a family. History and society have taught us that this bias is continued and reinforced throughout life and it’s surely a bias WE MUST BREAK! It is time to start treating people according to their unique medley of characteristics rather than according to their gender, whatever that might be. #breakthebias

Cecilia Amabo, NASC.
Cecilia Amabo, NASC.

CECILIA AMABO NASC 

“Breaking #GenderBias should be on the door post of every institution of the world, government bodies, conferences - even household conversations.

#GenderBias today is a result of centuries of failure to outright tackle it with the vigour it deserved.

I get marvelled each time I witness #GenderBias. 45 years after CEDAW, women are still treated with disdain in workplaces and family circles.

Article 1 of UDHR talks about the ‘equality of all’- born FREE and EQUAL. 75 years on - woman still face #GenderBias, inequality, stereotype, discrimination and more.

Twenty-two years after the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, aimed at gender equality, women still serve as tea servers, notebook distributors, secretaries, and food servers in conferences where decisions are made concerning their lives instead of being active participants. The talks about Beijing fell on the lips of governments but truly never entered their minds.

As an African woman, I was told where, when, and how I must speak, how to dress, that certain chores were meant for women, I couldn’t participate in certain meetings, even though they involved decisions about my life.

Society mounts so much pressure on women, they determine when a woman is expected to be married, when to start having children, yet they don’t decide what office they should occupy in governments.

Women carry with them unimaginable potentials and strength yet unknown to the world.

Calling out #GenderBias is a collective responsibility starting from our families, then, educational institutions, workplaces, businesses, local authorities, government bodies, regional/global organisations, and global sports.

Breaking #GenderBias is the same as combating racism, whose existence is still outright rejected by many societies. It’s a hefty task but worth every ounce of the weight.

For our young kids, who already feel the heaviness and stereotype of being women, for their dreams of venturing into every industry with the expectation to strive, be heard, appreciated, and treated with the same respect as their male counterparts, this campaign is worth every muscle. Break the silence, close the gap, be a voice of change and fight against #genderbias.”

Paula Cogan, CEO at Cognate Health and President of Cork Chamber of Commerce.
Paula Cogan, CEO at Cognate Health and President of Cork Chamber of Commerce.

PAULA COGAN

CEO at Cognate Health and President of Cork Chamber of Commerce 

 “While Covid has changed the world and has accelerated the opportunity for change in the workplace environment, it has also highlighted the vulnerability of half of the world’s population — women.

In a gender equal world, women would not go hungry just to feed their children; women would not be unfairly impacted by income loss as men are retained in the workforce in times of recession; young girls would not have to give up their right to education to support their family; and women would not be disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change.

Break the Bias must be tackled by all cohorts of society. It impacts on all cultures and economic classes and is driven across all aspects of society from the boardroom to the classroom.

In the words of Mary Robinson — ‘In a society where the rights and potential of women are constrained, no man can be truly free. He may have power, but he will not have freedom’.”

Aideen Shannon www.flexismartcoaching.ie
Aideen Shannon www.flexismartcoaching.ie

AIDEEN SHANNON

Flexi Smart Coaching

"Never before has it been as exciting a time for women to consider a re-entry to the workplace. Only 5 years ago it was not always easy to find flexible ways of working. Now, post-covid and with a raging talent war the opportunities with employers are there. Women just need to find their confidence, remember those transferable skills and take action. 

Only this week I worked with a lady who was 11 years out of the workplace minding her children. Confidence was the only obstacle. The recruitment process including application and interview lasted only three days and with the help of coaching and guidance she now has a job offer! 

Women who have stayed at home with children or caring for sick family members - Find your power, re-ignite it and remember your transferable skills are in demand. This is the next stage of your career journey. Don't limit your self belief thinking too much has changed. The world is always changing at a rapid speed. You have adapted and learned before. You can do it again. Go for It!"

Cllr Colette Finn, Green Party
Cllr Colette Finn, Green Party

COLETTE FINN

Cork City Councillor, Green Party

"I believe gender equality will lead to a more peaceful world. Research has shown that when women are allowed to make their own decisions they make peace not war. Therefore it is not only right and just it is also the best for peace and cooperation #BreakTheBias"

Sinéad O Flynn
Sinéad O Flynn

SINEAD O’FLYNN 

"This year's theme #breakthebias couldn't have come at a better time. Society is starting to see females value in life. I think Covid has added to the reinforcement of how much women really do, in the workplace, at home and in everything. We still may not be fully valued for it yet, but times are changing and we are being heard and seen more. We need to reinforce this education from babies up so we eventually have generations without any bias. This photo is with my daughter, the most beautiful Neuro Diverse person who has opened my eyes and shown me the way to a life without judgements & a life without bias."

Sinead Kelly Self-Health Coach
Sinead Kelly Self-Health Coach

SINEAD KELLY

Self-Health Coach 

"It's normal and natural to have biases. As a Self Health Coach, it is something that comes up with my clients very frequently. We all have biases so if we want to #breakthebias firstly it's helpful to accept that you and everyone else has them. This however is not a reason to act on them. At its core unhelpful gender bias becomes an obstacle for empathy and connection.

There is a huge amount of work to be done to achieve gender equality within politics, workplaces, healthcare and other institutions. This international women's day is the perfect time for all of us to reflect on our own unhelpful biases. It is especially important if you hold power that others do not, whether that be around finances, status or access to resources.

My suggestion is to reflect and question the assumptions and actions you might make based on gender, consider everything from the tiny interactions with strangers to our closest relationships. From here you can make an informed choice. You have the choice to empower and make a positive impact on the lives of others."

Noreen Roche Epona.
Noreen Roche Epona.

NOREEN ROCHE

Epona Retreat Centre 

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Social connection and inclusion is a vital ingredient for overall wellbeing, actually lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Empathy is known to increase pro-social behaviours and the unconditional acceptance of self and others. Awareness and education on how to establish positive environments and the community is essential.

We can change how we express ourselves and benefit future generations in the process.

ELAINE FITZGERALD

Festival Manager Cork International Choral Festival 

It’s essential that we #BreaktheBias. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day. It is important that we are active in working to break the bias in the world around us – in communities, families, education settings, workplaces. It can be done together.

Susana Marambio

BBCS

It's so disheartening to see that it's 2022 and still every day, anyone who identifies as a woman needs to challenge and call out gender-based inequalities.

Unfortunately, it's not enough with recognising the privileges that certain people have based on their gender, class, education, race and sexual orientation and we, women, try to do something about it.

It is time that our males colleagues, partners, business associates, politicians and any supporter of women, break the silence and help us to make the change.

We have waited far too long.

In my previous role to reduce bias when hiring new team members, I've asked Human Resource Team to send me CVs without name & education, so I would select the candidates base on their achievement & experience.

The time to only encourage change already passed, to Break The Bias we need to act now, with intent and purposely and unfortunately, this need to include quotas & positive discrimination, followed up by education from kinder garden to 3rd degree and in the workplace.

PATRICIA ANDRADE 

 Im a Chilean photographer based in Dunmanway for about 12 years. Seeing that it wasn't to much of a celebration around I started to invited women around town to have their picture taken and released it the 8th of March under the global celebration.

This is my third year trying to get women together, and beside the storms we had, a group of woman of all ages united in the square in town to create awareness of women rights... Standind as and For Women...

Picture was taken last Saturday 19 of February In Dunmanway town.

Co. Cork by me.

We will continue to publish Cork women's comments, daily, in the lead up to International Women's Day on March 8.

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