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International Women’s Day: #Breakthebias today & everyday!

Updated: Mar 26, 2022

By Christina Chia, Member, The Brilliant Foundation

International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated on March 8 every year, is a global celebration of women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements. For me, every day should be IWD. This year’s theme is #Breakthebias. It is a call for all of us to reflect and act, as we forge and elevate women’s rights and roles, contributing significantly to a world where bias, stereotypes and discrimination are unwelcome. The relevance of #Breakthebias cannot be ignored as we rebuild post-pandemic workplaces in our communities.

As an Asian Australian I have been the target of many forms of stereotypes and biases. When I was hired as a Senior Executive, the CEO congratulated me and said: “You got the job but I need to let the Board and others know that you are Asian”.
I was not given the Managerial role I applied for but was given the “second in command” role with feedback that being a migrant (Asian) would not be consistent with the organisation branding.

I also had to contend with a recruiter who suggested I shouldn’t take a ‘big role’ (demanding) as I was a mother of two young children. I was given projects deemed as “female centric” by my bosses, such as PR, business development and fundraising – the “soft and light weight” ones, while “the boys will manage the ‘heavy’ ones, such as mergers/acquisitions, IT and finance.” Boys?! The list goes on and on!

Over my twenty-five year career in Australia and South East Asia, I admit that some days were really tough, but I never gave up. I kept moving forward, progressing and found ways to survive. Of course, I needed the jobs so that I could fund the best education for my daughters. I also worked very hard and smart to prove that I could stand shoulder to shoulder with any employee – male or female.

I put in extra hours sacrificing sleep and social lifestyle and made work a priority – just like any employee who is serious about advancing their career.

I remember missing my daughters’ concerts and key events in their lives. I remember my daughters were the first to be at ‘Before School Care’ and were the last to be picked up at the end of the day. There were days I felt insecure in my job due to the bias associated with staying home to look after my sick daughter.