We must give women of colour a platform to be role models and to be leaders

We continue our series to mark International Women's Day. Here, more women in Cork have their say on this year's theme, Embrace Equity
We must give women of colour a platform to be role models and to be leaders

Jeannine Rey, Marketing Consultant

Jeannine Rey, Marketing Consultant

As a person of colour and a clear minority in Cork, equity is hard to come by. I recognise that I am unlike the locals and that I am different, in more ways than one. That recognition comes with more challenges than one can fathom.

When sitting in professional circles, my identity is always questioned first before any of my extensive list of skills and hard-earned accolades. I have personally been a witness to countless discriminatory experiences, both for my colour and for being a woman.

After years of self-reflection, I have decided to use my ‘difference’ as a tool. Often when people meet me, they don’t forget me and I use it to my advantage. I have to work ten times harder to prove myself in any room I walk into. I now take a lot of joy in the shock value my presence brings once people see past my Asian skin.

So what does equity mean to an intelligent and well-educated person of colour like myself? 

To me, equity means recognition. Recognising the issues around opportunity, discrimination, inequality, and so much more is such an integral part of this message. Providing support and simply highlighting minority women in our community is what equity means to me.

Creating ecosystems where we can educate those who aren’t aware can propel the community to a more vibrant and welcoming future.

I would love to live in an Ireland where I can sit at the same table with my peers and be respected before questioned.

We must give women of colour a platform to be role models and to be leaders so that the locals can start to understand that success doesn’t only have one colour.

It is easier to ignore the problems and avoid seeing colour. But if I see that we are different colours and you do not, how can we ever be equal?

Mary McCarthy, Crawford Art Gallery, Stories of Can, Cork Can Picture: Clare Keogh
Mary McCarthy, Crawford Art Gallery, Stories of Can, Cork Can Picture: Clare Keogh

Mary McCarthy, Director of Crawford Art Gallery.

I firmly believe in embracing equity and welcome it being highlighted on International Women’s day. It recognises that there is no single starting point or finish point.

We need to recognise our differences rather than try to flatten them out, and that different and diverse resources are required to support real equality.

Without this emphasis we are simply continuing a support system that is Darwinian.

Cork County Council, Siobhan Luddy
Cork County Council, Siobhan Luddy

Siobhan Luddy, Cork County Council

I work for Cork County Council in the Corporate Communications and Marketing Section.

For me Equity means

Understanding that women are not a homogenous group and as I currently belong to the ‘older woman’ group 50+, that is what I will speak to

I want to be fairly compensated for my skills, knowledge and level of experience over the course of my career

I want it recognised that I continue to have career ambitions and expect access to promotion opportunities and to have them met

I want the health issues related to the Menopause acknowledged and the necessary adjustments made

I am part of the sandwich generation, juggling multiple responsibilities, caring for elderly parents/relation, adult children living at home and working, it doesn’t make me less committed at work, it means I’m Superwoman.

I didn’t feel supported as a young mother, and I absolutely want to feel supported, valued and not judged now that I am at the other end

I expect all the women in my organisation to support each other and share their experience and knowledge to lift each other up.

The Everyman's Artistic director Sophie Motley Picture: Darragh Kane
The Everyman's Artistic director Sophie Motley Picture: Darragh Kane

Sophie Motley, Artistic Director of The Everyman

I direct plays and operas, and I try to make sure that our stage truly represents the diversity of our city.

I identify as female. I’m proud to be a female leader in a predominantly gender balanced industry. However, there is more to do.

Equity in the voices that we hear on our stage, from the people we see on our stage, and knowing they represent our diverse city, is essential for the growth of our creative industries.

We need to see more women of colour, women from all over the city and county, and more female stories on The Everyman stage. I’m excited that this year we have writers, directors, designers, stage managers, dancers, actors and musicians of all genres from hip hop to opera, tributes to theatre on our stage.

Most importantly, for me, is the equity of knowing that participants new to The Everyman, from our three Community Programmes, Everyman Young Company, Theatre Making & Citizenship (TMACC) Cork Young People, and TMACC Older Adults, will all have our 125 year old stage to tell their stories on, publicly, for the very first time this year.

Cork City County Council, Teresa O’Donovan
Cork City County Council, Teresa O’Donovan

Teresa O’Donovan, Cork County Council

I am the Head of Human Resource Management with Cork County Council. For me, equity means that all people ,regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race, ability, etc. are treated the same and are able to access all the opportunities that exist in their environment.

As women, I feel we have a responsibility, especially to our female colleagues, to support them in whatever way we can, so they can take up new opportunities and challenges with confidence. 

Unfortunately, some women, as they progress in their careers, become quite competitive, often forgetting how they were supported and encouraged by their mentors, both female and male.

Dr Andrea Bickerdike
Dr Andrea Bickerdike

Dr Andrea Bickerdike, Lecturer, MTU

I am a Lecturer and Population Health Researcher within the Department of Sport, Leisure & Childhood Studies at MTU Cork. For several years, I have had the pleasure of working with incredible MTU Colleagues on the Organising Committee of the inaugural MTU ‘Empowering Women’ Conference, in celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD). IWD is an opportunity to pause, reflect, and celebrate as a unified collective.

For me, equity (or sometimes a lack thereof) permeates within and across the ‘everyday’. It underpins the collection of choices and options available to us at each juncture, with each juncture in turn constituting an important mosaic of experiences that have always just ‘been’... and that we sometimes take for granted.

To use a sports analogy (!), I view an equitable world as one in which your lane mirrors my lane, and both lanes are free of hurdles or obstacles that would mediate the effort required for us to cross the finish line together.

Surabhi Sharma, Entrepreneur
Surabhi Sharma, Entrepreneur

Surabhi Sharma, Entrepreneur

I am an entrepreneur, who has been working as a thought and process leader in the field of education technology and been part of few start-ups in this domain. I am currently working in the field of IoT security-safety devices and on the advisory committee for Daksh Electronics Pvt Ltd.

Equity is different from equality. Though equality refers to considering all as equal irrespective of their race, gender and removing any forms of discrimination, equity is about just and fair inclusion in terms of creating the opportunities which are equally open and available for all.

An equitable workplace or community or even a society is one in which all can participate and prosper and grow based on their potential.

People come in from different backgrounds, cultures and have different levels of contributions, but the goals of equity must be to create conditions that allow all to reach their full potential.

Embracing equity is our commitment towards creating an environment and a culture of equal opportunities and availability of resources for people to grow to their potential.

Patricia Liddy, Cork County Council

Metrics are often used successfully to demonstrate equity, however at times the use of metrics can hide what is in plain sight. 

Equity should also be demonstrated in how you allocate roles, and that operational and support roles are equally manned by both men and women

Bias is a thing that I think affects equity the most, and a lack of awareness of biases that are held. A bias analysis should be used in every organisation, it is a useful tool and allows you to see and understand the gaps that may exist in your organisation. Actions need to taken from any analysis based on evidence provided.

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