This week, we take a look into being a woman in the workforce through the eyes of Allega Dienes, a brand advocacy manager and content creator at AIESEC.
Looking into history provides insight into the future. As students from EUR, we are the leaders of tomorrow. So how will we shape our infinity?
Looking back, socially determined gender roles provided women with certain opportunities for advancement but were overall constricting their growth as professionals. The prevalent opinion was that women best served the political and social needs of society by dedicating themselves to providing a nurturing household for their husbands and sons. These tenets of domesticity also extended into the public realm, shaping perceptions about the types of jobs that were appropriate women, and how they had to look and act if they wanted or needed to work outside of the family home.
There have always been women who did not only notice this inequality but who also decided to act upon it. As women, and especially as women studying business, we owe our liberties, opportunities, and achievements to the empowering voices of earlier female generations. However, women still face a lot of bias and inequality in their private and professional lives, especially in the business sector. According to its literal definition, progress is the ongoing “development towards an improved and more advanced condition”. So what can we do? How do we follow the footsteps of women like Emmeline Pankhurst and Betty Friedan? How can we support the Oprah Winfreys or Malala Yousafzais of tomorrow?
I didn’t think about this a lot. Life is good, women have never had more rights and liberties than now and this inequality everyone talked about only seemed to happen to others, in foreign countries. However, the more I got in touch with the business world, the more I was confronted with everyday sexism, misogyny and a close-mindedness that I had never experienced in university. My gender suddenly became constricting, and I started to not only extrinsically but also intrinsically hold back. How the hell should I become a badass businesswoman, when my future and predominantly male, environment tried to make me believe I didn´t have a voice worth listening to? As changing my major was absolutely not an option – I wouldn´t give society the satisfaction – I started to look for opportunities where I could grow anyways.
That was when I joined AIESEC, the largest student-run organization in the world. AIESEC is the closest thing you can experience in a business environment while still being a student. It is an organization that provides men and women, no matter where they are from, who they love, or how they identify, with the opportunity to work in business, free from inequality and full of acceptance. Joining AIESEC meant joining a new family and every member and every student going on exchange experiences that. AIESEC is an organization that is not afraid of powerful women – Five of the Six full-time members, who are responsible for over thirty part-timers, are women. Being inquisitive, proactive, ambitious, outspoken are valued as leadership qualities, which we want to develop in every member and student that goes on exchange with us.
Contrary to university, I feel like I was actually learning substantive skills and slowly started owning the tools I needed to go out there and accomplish what I want. I have developed myself in ways that simply could not have been possible anywhere else.
Author: Allegra Dienes
Editor: Kat Nivera