TAKE SPACE: OWN IT!
(Malala Yousafzai: Activist and 2014 Nobel Prize Winner)
Calladita te ves más bonita. A familiar phrase that is often heard by a Spanish speaking parent wanting their child to quiet down. Translated this phrase means ‘You look prettier when you are quiet,’ a simple phrase to shame someone into silence.
As new college and high school grads enter into the workforce, it is necessary to remind everyone, especially women of color, to demand what you deserve from your workplace. Women of color and Latinas often fear speaking up in the workplace because companies love to shame them into smaller spaces that won’t help their female employees grow. Don’t let your job take advantage of your skill and experience because they won’t appreciate you. Know your worth!
Below are some tips to help you with taking up space!
1. R E C O G N I Z E Y O U R W O R T H
There is an obvious difference between genders within the work environment. What is the difference between you and the heteronormative white man next to you? The most obvious answer would probably be the pay rate. While the issue of equal pay has been brought up countless times, it is a wonder why some women, especially women of color, don’t speak up about demanding for the respect they deserve.
On average women make seventy-eight cents to a man’s dollar and even further black women make sixty-two cents and Latinas make fifty-four cents per a dollar that a heteronormative white man makes.
If this isn’t a reason enough to demand equal treatment at the workplace, why is there still hesitance? Why don’t more women ask for the common courtesy that is simply given to men?
2. D O N ’ T L E T Y O U R I N S E C U R I T I E S G E T T H E
B E S T O F Y O U
The thought that society has ingrained into female minds is that while they aren’t getting the best work experience, at least they are able to work. As women, we often feel like there is no choice but to accept the treatment given to us. We would rather keep our job than risk losing it because sometimes we can’t afford to lose our source of income.
3. D O N ’ T B E A F R A I D T O S P E A K U P /
U S E Y O U R V O I C E
The fear of being a stereotype is also an effective way to spread shamed silence. We live in a world where a man being assertive is seen as a positive trait and often receives praise for it. While an assertive woman is, more often than not, seen as aggressive which leads them to being unliked at the workplace.
This negativity increases for Latinx and women of color which is a reason why women tend to not speak up about their struggles in the workplace. Part of it could be an attempt to avoid becoming a stereotype such as the ‘angry black girl’ or the ‘crazy Latina’. These labels have been used for decades to shame women of color into silence.
Our employers don’t want to hear our complaints. So they shame our demands by using racist stereotypes to shame us into compliance. Our silence becomes their victory. If we can’t fight for our right to take up space at the workplace then they; our bosses, companies, men, and the general society, take advantage of us by forcing us into boxes that won’t help us grow to our fullest potential.
So how do we take up space in the workplace?
We often have to fight these battles alone but these experiences are universally shared. If the workload doesn’t equal the pay then don’t be silent about it. The disadvantage in pay needs to be voiced.
If your voice is being ignored then bring the battle higher up the latter. Go as high as you can and if your boss or company still doesn't listen then make sure your loyalties don’t go pass the paycheck. Start looking into other career possibilities that will hear you and benefit you. Loyalties can only pay so much and you have your own future to look out for.
The pattern of unfairness should stop as soon as you are able to witness it. No company should leave you feeling like you are taking up too much space. TAKE UP SPACE AND OWN IT!