Women in Entrepreneurship: Defying Societal Expectations

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As a young girl, I had many career aspirations. I wanted to be a teacher, a lawyer, a marine biologist, or perhaps, a cowgirl. It is children's nature to let their imaginations take them to many dreams and aspirations. However, as they grow older, these dreams become more structured and realistic. I pictured myself growing up to be strong and successful, just like the female role models in my life. It was not until recently that I realized my one true career aspiration, to own a business.

In, "Entrepreneurs are expected to be white and male. We need to change this," Patti Fletcher discusses the overrepresentation of young, white males in the world of entrepreneurship. She also emphasizes the societal restrictions that have been imparted on women due to their past status of a "disadvantaged class." It is the combination of the lack of diversity in entrepreneurship and the remaining discrimination in the professional world that has contributed to this phenomenon. (1)

Although I have never thought in my mind that entrepreneurs must be white and male to succeed, this unconscious understanding has impacted me nonetheless. This impact is apparent in the differences in advice given to males compared to females, even at a young age. Girls are often encouraged to be responsible and organized. It can be argued that boys do not feel obligated to have these attributes in order to succeed. Remember when one of your classmates submitted an assignment without signing their name in school? One of the most common practices for finding the author, in my experience, was to analyze the neatness of the hand writing. It was common for a messy assignment to be attributed to a male, while neat handwriting would be found to have a female author. Was this just a result of stereotypes or did girls actually put more value on neat writing than boys? Fletcher comments on this practice:

We teach women to be good students in school. To write neatly. To color within the lines. To dot every "i" and cross every "t". When women enter the workforce, we tell them to perfect their PowerPoints for an idea pitch. We tell them to be a good girl and go to awkward networking events or to find a mentor. But as my friend and fellow Astia Board of Trustees member, Jeanne Sullivan, says "You need more than a team, a dream, a PowerPoint, and a dog" to get investors to get their wallets out of their pockets.

What girls really need, perhaps, is to be advised to be bold. It may be time to teach girls that they are valued for more than their practical skills, but rather, they are appreciated for their ideas. It’s time to stop the behaviours that put destructive unconscious thoughts in the minds of young girls that later present in their sense of self-worth. If this can be accomplished, girls may be willing to be braver, to go further, and to expect more out of themselves than they have in the past. I hope that as a result of making this shift, "entrepreneur" will be a common career aspiration for young girls one day.

By: Georgia McClure-Kunc

Sources:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2014/dec/12/entrepreneurs-are-expected-to-be-white-and-male-we-need-to-change-this

 

Cyberbullying - A contemporary threat to diversity and inclusivity

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Cyberbullying has been identified as an important problem amongst youth in the last decade. Some reviews of cyberbullying already exist, but the area is developing very rapidly, as new technologies develop and new trends and social networks appear.1 As such, cyberbullying has become a major threat to diversity and inclusivity, due to the high adoption rate of smartphones, personal computer, and other information technology that are channels for cyberbullying . But what exactly is cyberbullying and how can we deal with it?

What is cyberbullying?

Bullying is generally seen as intentional behavior to harm another, repeatedly, where it is difficult for the victim to defend himself or herself; it is based on an imbalance of power; and can be defined as a systematic abuse of power.

By extending the definition from traditional bullying, cyberbullying has been defined as an aggressive act or behavior that is carried out using electronic means by a group or an individual repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation (1).

Cyberbullying and intersectionality

Why should we, as allies, care more about cyberbullying? Start by thinking about intersectionality - some people might be facing a higher risk of in injustice, bullying or other harmful behaviors because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, and class. Research has shown adolescence and early adulthood are peak periods for involvement in cyberbullying. Compared to traditional bullying, girls may be relatively more involved, but gender differences remain inconsistent across studies (1).

A well replicated finding is a large overlap between involvement in traditional bullying and cyberbullying. One aspect of this is that there is a quite strong link between those who are involved as cyberbullies and traditional bullies, perhaps more so in boys. Regarding cybervictims, research found that the biggest risk factor of being bullied online was to bully others online. They concluded that being bullied online may be seen as two-way interaction where children bully others and are bullied themselves. This was especially seen between girls. Little is known about the sequence of events that may lead up to cyberbullying. Also, some cyberbullies may be traditional victims who, being unable to retaliate face-to-face, may do so by electronic means as a form of retaliation (1). The harrassment one faces online can affect them day-to-day, and the lasting comments and derogatory posts made over the Internet can be seen by others into the future.

Why should we care about cyberbullying?

With the prevalence of social media and digital forums, comments, photos, posts, and content shared by individuals can often be viewed by strangers as well as acquaintances. The content an individual shares online – both their personal content as well as any negative, mean, or hurtful content – creates a kind of permanent public record of their views, activities, and behavior. This public record can be thought of as an online reputation, which may be accessible to schools, employers, colleges, clubs, and others who may be researching an individual now or in the future. Cyberbullying can harm the online reputations of everyone involved – not just the person being bullied, but those doing the bullying or participating in it.

In addition to online bullying, controversial posts through online medias can surface in these searches. Out of context or without background understanding of the person that you are, this content can work negatively towards your image. Being cognizant of the image you create online, in relation to other people as well as your personal ideals and beliefs, is important for your future self.

But, how can we deal with cyberbullying?

To prevent cyberbullying, and bullying on campus in general, students use a variety of tools and strategies to better identify and act upon threats. If you or someone you know is a victim of a cyberbullying attack, consider implementing one or all of the following methods to prevent continued threats for yourself or others.

1. Tell Someone

Whether it’s a roommate, professor or the police, victims of bullying need to speak up. Because many cyberbullying attacks are targeted and not seen by others, these attacks can go unnoticed by others. If you feel as though someone is threatening, harassing or mocking you over text, social media, email or other digital medium, don’t hesitate to tell someone you trust.

2. Don’t Retaliate

Often, cyberbullies thrive off the attention and frustration they receive from their victims. Instead of responding with aggressive or threatening messages, talk to someone you trust and don’t retaliate.

3. Store Information

Collect information surrounding the cyberbullying attempt or issue, including text messages, social media posts, date and time, and any other applicable information. In the event that it becomes part of an investigation or larger, ongoing issue, this information can be helpful to identify and apprehend the instigator.

4. Make Timely Reports

Whether you report the person on social media or call your phone company to block a number, the method used by cyberbullies is always a good starting point. If the initiator doesn’t have access to you via text messages or social media outlets, he or she may decide to abandon cyberbullying.

5. Seek Counseling

Both Western and Ivey offer counseling resources to students who are victims of bullying on campus. Because they are often more likely to develop mental health issues from the traumatic experience, students should continue to talk with professionals to ensure they properly recover (2).

To help prevent these situations from occurring, “Be proactive and ensure that there are clear policies in place to protect employees from bullying. But most importantly, if anyone comes to you with a complaint, listen carefully, take it seriously, and investigate the situation quickly and thoroughly,”

“One person really can make a difference. Be that person.” - Teresa Daniel, Dean of the Human Resource Leadership Program at Sullivan University in Louisville (4).

Finally, please remember, if you or anyone around you have any concerns about diversity and inclusivity, Ally@Ivey is always here for you!

By Joe Li

Sources:

  1. http://agnesday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Slonje-Cyberbullying.pdf
  2. https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/index.html
  3. http://www.campusanswers.com/5-strategies-for-students-to-stand-up-to-cyberbullying/
  4. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/technology/pages/what-hr-can-do-about-cyberbullying-in-the-workplace.aspx

Imagine: A Day in the Life

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6:30 a.m. – I wake up and start stretching so I can move around as I get ready.

6:45 a.m. – I eat breakfast quickly and take some Tylenol to relieve some of the burning pain in my legs, back, and neck.

6:55 a.m. – I get dressed while laying down. This takes a bit longer than the usual way but I cannot force my body to bend over this morning.

7:05 a.m. – I continue to get ready sitting down.

7:25 a.m. – I get on my winter coat and start making my way to the bus stop. I have to be careful not to go too fast because I can’t afford to fall. The last time I was in a rush for the bus I ended up falling and – wow – that a painful experience.

7:35 a.m. – I board the bus and make my way to the closest seat as quick as possible. Thank goodness there’s one semi-close so I don’t have to walk as the bus is moving.

7:55 a.m. – I get off the bus and start trudging towards Ivey so I can make my 8 a.m. class.

9:20 a.m. – That first class was stressful for me. I have trouble participating in class because I feel intimidated by my peers. They’re all so intelligent and I feel like I need to work twice as hard to keep up with them.

9:24 a.m. – Once there is a clear path for me to get out of the classroom, I’m on the move. I want coffee because I’m exhausted but I feel that I need to prioritize using the washroom instead. Nature calls, right? I don’t walk fast enough to do more than one activity during break, especially with all those lines. Oh well, the coffee can wait.

11:00 a.m. – The second class of the day was a hard one. I was desperately trying to stay awake and was so distracted that I had no idea what was happening. What’s worse? My prof cold-called me and I didn’t know the answer – even when she repeated herself! I’m so mad at myself…I should have woken up earlier so I could have made coffee at home this morning. I always make that mistake.

11:05 a.m. – I finally get to the cafeteria so I can get myself a coffee. I spend so much money here – I should really stop. At least I won’t be falling asleep next class. I really need to focus on contributing this time.

12:40 a.m. – Okay that class went well. I actually felt like I was a part of the conversation! I feel so great that I almost forget about the pain shooting up and down my legs and back. But then I feel it again. I guess it’s time for another pill.

1:00 p.m. – I have to quickly eat the lunch that I brought from home so I can make it to a club meeting on main campus at 1:30 p.m. I don’t feel great, but the Aleve that I took earlier is starting to kick in.

2:30 p.m. – Time to start reading my cases for tomorrow. My body is beginning to feel tired so I want to read them somewhere close. Weldon could be a risky choice because I’ll just end up walking around all over the place looking for somewhere to work. Maybe I could go back to Ivey – it’s not that far.

2:35 p.m. – I almost wipe out on black ice! That sends a shooting pain up my back and I have to stop walking. I wish there was something around that I could lean on. I attempt to stand up straight and keep moving. I just want to find a spot to sit down.

2:45 p.m. – I finally enter the building and find a spot to sit in the hallway. I want to start reading right away, but some of my friends walk by and I become distracted. It’s nice to see them, but the conversation changes course and suddenly we’re talking about recruiting and grades on our most recent exam. I begin to distance myself from the conversation in the most polite way I can muster.

3:00 p.m. – Finally, I begin to read my cases. I have to readjust my seated position a few times and sit on my coat.

4:55 p.m. – I lost track of time and almost forgot I have an info session at 5 o’clock! I get my stuff together as quickly as possible and make my way to the elevator to get downstairs. Every time I use the elevator I feel embarrassed that people will judge me for it. I can’t manage walking down the stairs today though.

7:00 p.m. – I feel overwhelmed by recruiting and by everything else I have left to do today. I decide it would be best for me to go home and eat dinner. I head towards the bus stop with very little energy.

7:10 p.m. – I step onto the bus and feel my stomach drop. The bus is almost completely full and there is nowhere for me to sit. I find a spot where I can lean and I try to focus on my breathing – this is going to be a tough ride.

7:35 p.m. – I’m finally home and decide to take more pain relieving medicine so I can make dinner for myself.

8:00 p.m. – Now I can finish doing my cases.

11:00 p.m. – I finish working on my cases and my body has gotten very stiff. I get up and lay in bed, attempting to stretch out as much as possible.

11:30 p.m. – I shower and then get into bed to rest. Despite the stress I feel about school and recruiting, this day was okay overall. I hope that I can sleep better tonight than I did last night.

This was the day in the life of an Ivey student. It was also the day in the life of someone suffering from chronic pain. At Ivey, it is easy to feel that you are surrounded by a sea of people with very similar stresses and accept that as “normal.” However, it is important to remind yourself that every Ivey student comes to school each day with different experiences and outlooks. If we remind ourselves of this idea every day, we could help build a more understanding and inclusive environment at Ivey in the long run.

Although this thought piece does not demonstrate the day-to-day events of a particular individual, it demonstrates the reality that many in this world go through.

By: Georgia McClure-Kunc