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International Women’s Day 2021: Choosing to Challenge

March 8, 2021


Monday, March 8th is International Women’s Day, marked this year by the theme Choose to Challenge. It is only because of those that chose to challenge the rules, laws, and norms that deny equity that the society we live in today has progressed to where we are now. But the work is far from over – there remains much that needs to change. 
With this in mind, we asked the women of Art & Science to anonymously tell us what stereotypes, gender norms, or biases about women they would like to challenge. Here are some of the responses:

I choose to challenge myself to stop qualifying my responses with “I’m not sure, but…” or “I don’t know, I could be wrong…” when I’m actually very confident. There’s an expectation for women to be soft, less assertive, or less certain. But I don’t want to pretend to doubt myself when I don’t.

I would like to challenge the notion that hiring a woman and/or a woman of colour in the workplace (especially in tech) is a “risk”. By keeping women out of positions of power in the workplace, it perpetuates a cycle of not knowing what they are capable of and the question of their skills and potential are ignored in favour of “someone more qualified” (usually a man and/more often than not a White man) until they come up framed as “risks”.

I choose to challenge the patriarchal invention of the 9-5 workday. Workplaces and the financial system were designed by men, for men in the ’50s. Let’s all be a part of creating work-environments that work for EVERYONE and will last into the future.

I choose to challenge the stereotype that being outwardly feminine has any effect on skill, intelligence, strength, or competence in the workplace.

I choose to challenge the pink tax!

I choose to challenge the hegemony of ‘breast is best’ (breastfeeding)

I choose to challenge the insidious nature of language that we use to refer to women. i.e when speaking about someone who identifies as female, they are a woman (or womyn or womxn) NOT a “girl”. We don’t refer to a man in the same way. We don’t say “that boy on the call” — and yet we allow the unconscious infantilization of women by calling them “girls” (let’s be honest, this is MOSTLY done by men).

I choose to challenge the idea that women need to be the designated shoulder to cry on for those more privileged. Just because we have the empathy, doesn’t mean others deserve it. We are the kind creatures of the earth, and that is not something to be taken advantage of. We have no obligation to the people that take advantage of our kindness and caring nature.

I often put myself in the position of an apologetic woman so that people like me more at work and in life and don’t think of me as a “b**ch”. I’ve even developed a habit of using apologies in my speech (eg. “sorry for bothering you” before asking a question).

I choose to challenge the norm women take on the emotional labour often in working with others as their own responsibilities. EVERYONE should take on the emotional labour, not just women.

I choose to challenge the “Like-ability bias” about women. The idea that we expect men to be assertive, making them transition natural leaders. We expect women to be kind and communal, so when they assert themselves, we like them less.


Join us on social media by using #ChooseToChallenge to continue to call out gender bias and inequality, keeping the world alert and accountable for our individual and collective actions. 
Help forge a gender equal world by learning more about International Women’s Day or Art & Science, we’d love to hear your thoughts and connect. 

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