The community created with the support of the Ambassador Program in Femme Palette
Last year we launched a new initiative called the Ambassador program to help create women’s support group in the companies. The Ambassadors are creating a safe space within the company to discuss any career related questions to help women thrive in the workplace. Read about the experience of our ambassadors Julia Gumeniuk and Teodora Stojšin from Kiwi.com.
My colleague Julia Gumeniuk and me became ambassadors of the Femme Palette in December 2020 and our main motivation was to advocate for other women in Kiwi.com and help them with their careers. We wanted to become part of a community of other ambassadors who are uplifting women to be their best selves and gain leadership and organisational skills from organising and facilitating this group.
With support of Femme Palette, we created a group The Community of Kiwi.com Women with the aim to create a safe space where we can discuss various topics connected to our professional lives and aspirations, grow together, and support each other.
What does the Ambassador program look like in practice in Kiwi.com?
12 months, 12 sessions focussed on already defined topics such as imposter syndrome, mindfulness, personal branding, self-confidence and more. Meetings are so far (well, COVID-19) done online, and anyone can submit topics for discussion. We’re gathered around a Slack channel where we share additional materials or just talk, and we’re planning on organizing additional activities as well throughout this 12-month program. In the January session, we discussed Gender bias, what it is, how it appears and what we can do once we encounter it.
Overview of bias
So, what is a gender bias? There are various descriptions findable on Google but simply put, gender bias is the tendency to prefer one gender over another. “It is a form of unconscious bias, or implicit bias, which occurs when one individual unconsciously attributes certain attitudes and stereotypes to another person or group of people.” Builtin
Leanin.org cards explain 6 types of bias and different situations that might be a consequence of gender bias. I'd strongly recommend this platform to everyone! We used those cards for our meeting to discuss types and different situations that we might be experiencing.
What does each of these types of bias mean?
- Performance bias is based on incorrect assumptions about abilities: we tend to underestimate women’s performance and overestimate men’s.
- Attribution bias is when we see women as less competent than men, and we don’t always recognize the work they do.
- Likeability bias often surfaces in how we describe women. They are more likely to be described as “too aggressive” or “bossy”, words that are rarely used to describe men.
- Maternal bias is the strongest type of gender bias and it happens when we incorrectly assume that mothers are less committed and less competent.
- Affinity bias is when we gravitate toward people like ourselves and may avoid or even dislike people who are different.
- Double discrimination and intersectionality happen when different types of discrimination interconnect and overlap, eg, women can also experience biases due to their race, sexual orientation, disability, or other aspects of their identity.
Learnings and takeaways from the meeting
Discussion within the community was a place to learn or simply bring to consciousness some behaviors which can but don’t have to be related to gender bias. Thanks to Zoom and its breakout rooms, we discussed in smaller groups how we can react in these situations. Some of the takeaways that came after exploring the Gender Bias topic were:
- We have to be careful not to make assumptions, we should always explore the root of the comment before assuming it's gender bias.
- Many of us can feel bias in a very strong way, sometimes stronger than what the data shows.
- We usually don’t think about how many times men interrupt women. The biggest fight against bias might exactly be those tiny little almost invisible, imperceptible things.
What can we do with these findings?
How many times do we accept something as a standard just because we're raised in this way; or somewhere along the way, we inherited other's beliefs? I personally didn't know much about the theory of gender bias as such, it was usually just "the intuition" that tells me that sometimes, something isn't entirely right. Nevertheless, gender bias is happening all around us and in some environments, it's happening heavily.
So, what can we do? In my opinion, we should become aware, that's the first step. Then, we should show up for ourselves but also be able to support our colleagues when they need it, and show them they’re not alone in this. I believe that by talking about this and sharing our experiences, regardless of our gender, we can make any kind of environment a much better place. We can bring much more respect and appreciation to each other.