On July 7th, 2020, attendees of the CAN-TECH’s “Women in the Tech Webinar: The Ripples You Create – A workshop on amplifying women’s voices in the media” were taught several strategies to subdue their self-doubt and amplify their voices in the media. The keynote speaker of the event, Shari Graydon, is the founder and catalyst of Informed Opinions. Informed Opinions is a not-for-profit organization that “works to ensure diverse women’s perspectives and priorities are equitably reflected by and integrated into Canadian society.” In other words, Shari’s own words, she trains smart women to speak up.
Why are women’s voices underrepresented in the media?
Statistics show that male voices and perspectives dominate the media, traditional and otherwise. When you include other identifying factors – such as race, sexuality, and religion – the gap further widens. None of this is surprising or new information. While the gender gap is slowly decreasing, there is still a lot of work needed be done to help amplify previously invisible voices. As the recent social unrest triggered by the tragic death of George Floyd illustrates, when one group dominates a narrative, it often leads to the erasure of other perspectives or lived realties.
Social scientists suggest that part of the reason why women’s voices are missing from society, even today, is because of the socialization of gender. Males are taught to be more assertive and that their voices have value. Females are raised to be quiet and docile. Gender socialization is complex, and anyone that breaks the mold is harassed and bullied.
Recent studies show that women leaders are targets for abuse on social media. Teenage environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, has been repeatedly targeted by men, including United States President Donald Trump. Movie stars, like Leslie Jones and Kelly Marie Tran, were forced to delete their social media because of relentless harassment. Fear of getting bullied is one of the main reasons women may reject the opportunities they do receive.
How can I add value to this discussion?
Another reason, as was articulated by Shari in the seminar, is the notion of, “am I the best person?” Shari stated that women sometimes have a knee-jerk reaction to reject new opportunities because they believe they are not the best person or authority on the topic. Shari suggested that instead of thinking, “am I the best person?” women should instead ask themselves whether they can add value to a topic by adding their opinion. Naturally, self-doubt is not exclusive to one gender. However, statistics do show that women are less likely to apply for positions because they feel that they are not qualified.
Admittedly, I wondered whether I was the best person when asked if anyone would like to attend and blog about the event. Even as I write this, I’m trying to change my mindset and think about the value I can add to this piece by incorporating my experiences and perspectives. Among all the wonderful strategies offered, this deceptively simple approach has resonated with me the most.
If you’d like to learn more about Informed Opinions, and attend a workshop to amplify your own voice or someone else’s, click here. If you’d like to attend CAN-TECH’s annual law conference in October, click here.
Nikita Munjal is an IPilogue Editor, Clinic Fellow with the Innovation Clinic, and a JD/MBA Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School.