Celebrating International Women’s Day 2018! #pressforprogress

Hi all! This month for me is about celebrating, but I started this International Women’s Day in not such a celebratory mood. Actually, yesterday I came across one of the most misogynist things on the Internet I saw in a very long time. And for someone who travels solo sometimes, this was quite worrying. But I’ll start explaining so that in the end of the post we can see how this is related to Pressing for Progress.

I don’t want to share the blog post here, but just make a quick Google search with the terms “how to seduce Couchsurfing girls” to understand what I’m talking about. I never did Couchsurfing but I know girls who have and had perfectly safe experiences, which is what the concept is originally about. And I’m not here to judge people who have consensual and safe sexual experiences while Couchsurfing of course. My rant is about this post that was shared in a female travelers Facebook group I am in. It was written by a male blogger telling his tricks to get the Couchsurfing girls he hosted at his house to have sex with him. I’m not going to be very descriptive, but there is a whole range of misconceptions and abuse of a power position that is far more common than what we think. That showed me that the culture that women are inferior is still way too present.

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We all saw in 2017 the positive movements towards the respect for women and the shedding into light of emotional and physical abuse in the entertainment and sports circles mostly. The hashtags #metoo and #timesup were widely spread on Twitter and Instagram. I celebrate these because they were able to bring more awareness and starting to change some mindsets. Right now, Universities are starting to catch up with the said industries, with campaigns like “I am Student X“. MIT even released a new consensual relationships policy to make things clearer regarding relationships and power and encouraging people who felt they had suffered from harassment to use a plethora of resources that fortunately MIT has to solve conflict and support people who suffered from harassment or witnessed some form of violation of Faculty conduct. However, people who filed complaints say that often, in academia, the abuser will only get “a slap on the wrist” while filing a complaint may ruin the student’s career. And in Portugal, I saw that there are not yet specialized offices within Universities to deal with such issues as far as I know.

Now that I spoke about how power dynamics are still viewed in a negative light and celebrating that this is slowly starting to change, I would like to talk about the main theme of the International Women’s Day this year, #pressforprogress. The latest reports from the World Economic Forum state that we are 200 years away from closing the gender pay gap. I can say I am fortunate so far for not having experienced any kind of gender gap in my career. My funding body clearly states the value of the monthly stipend for graduate students, both in Portugal and abroad, and it is the same for anyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, host institution, or any other factor that can bring to discrimination. However, is there discrimination in the access to these fellowships in these grounds? I cannot say yes or no for sure. So, in academia, the gender gap could be more implicit. At least I know, and reported in a previous post I wrote for Women of Science, that the gender inequality becomes more evident while climbing up the academic career ladder. However, the fact that I didn’t experience these facts myself doesn’t make me live under a rock. When I woke up, I just found out on TV that the average salary of women in Portugal is 17.5% inferior to the salary of men (above the European Union average value of 16.2%) and we managed the awesome feat of being the country in the European Union where the gender pay gap increased the most between 2011 and 2016. Clap clap.

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When I noticed that you could make a plea to Press for Progress, I scrolled through the topics and, in the spirit of celebration, I chose “Celebrate Women’s Achievements”. Under this task, I commit myself to:

  • believe achievement comes in many forms
  • value women’s individual and collective success
  • ensure credit is given for women’s contributions
  • celebrate women role models and their journeys
  • support awards showcasing women’s success

I believe some of these tasks I have already been doing through the blog and trying to improve more and more in my daily actions. Like trying to learn more about female role models and promote them! In another related note, I’m trying to reduce the stereotypical and misogynist thoughts that many men and also women have regarding each other. I’m also giving due credit to every gender, orientation and ethnicity where it’s due. In the blog I’ve been showcasing more women because that has been the main focus, but there will be interviews as well with other genders in the future. My hope is that one day we have a world where we all choose careers because that’s what we like and not for having fear of being stereotyped. And also being well paid.

Make your own plea here! And choose to celebrate the day in whatever way you feel more fitting. Go out for dinner with friends, attend any International Women’s Day event, chat about the reasons for this day being celebrated, or even engage the men in your life to understand more about this and tell them what is your favorite way to have this day celebrated by them. I told the most important men in my life it’s not gifts or having people saying “congratulations”. It’s helping in tasks to promote gender equality.

P.S. Regarding that Couchsurfing rant…we got together to report the guy and his behavior was immediately condoned by the Couchsurfing admins, that will try to find his profile and take it down.

P.P.S. You can also celebrate women (and mostly, women in science) by entering my first ever Instagram giveaway! I’m collaborating with Women of Science to give away some goodies with inspirational quotes by women featured in the series. Instructions in my Instagram post below! I’m so amazed by all the words that have been said already about women in science 🙂 keep them going!

Tell me, how will you press for progress? Don’t forget to follow me in FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest to keep up to date!

Cátia

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