Monday, March 8, 2021 is recognized as International Women’s Day. This is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. The BGS team is striking the #ChooseToChallenge pose by raising our hands high to show our support and solidarity in helping to forge a gender equal world.
The 2021 International Women’s Day theme is to “Choose to Challenge” and I raise my hand to show my commitment to promoting an inclusive culture in and out of the workplace. Largely due to having an amazing mother for a strong female role model, I learned from a young age the value of hard work, tenacity, and most importantly, the golden rule of always treating people I have the privilege of knowing in the same way I want to be treated.
In the roles I embrace every day – woman of faith, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, community member, citizen, employee, co-worker, and leader in a highly-competitive, male dominated technology field – I remind myself frequently that there is no challenge too difficult to overcome when I remember that while the world does not owe me anything, I owe myself the courage to embrace challenges and strive to make the world a better place in any way that I can.
When I chose to pursue a career in a STEM field, much of my coursework occurred in rooms where I was the only female in the room. For me, this meant that any grade less than an “A” was unacceptable, and I set out to prove I deserved to be there. And, I did. Several years later, similar courses include more than one female, but sadly the percentage is nowhere near equal. Today, I am proud to be the VP of Cyber and Technology Solutions at Boston Government Services, where I lead a team of talented individuals who contribute to the safety and security of our Nation.
As I embrace “choose to challenge,” this is my message:
Ladies, and Gentleman, be aware of your actions and the actions of others, be aware of the words you choose and how they may affect those who hear you, be aware of and appreciate the greatness within yourself and in all who cross your path. Embrace your experiences, good and bad, for those experiences have molded you into the person you are. If you are fortunate enough to influence pay scales, ensure that pay is equal to capabilities and responsibilities without bias. As individuals, we are influenced by our education and are further shaped by a lifetime of our experiences. The best teams are made up of individuals that together represent experiences of multiple genders, races, cultures, age groups, and socio-economic backgrounds. So, value diversity and celebrate achievements. Together, we stand stronger and more capable, so choose to challenge.
–Bridgitte Mase, Vice President, Cyber & Technology Solutions
“Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.” –Anonymous
As women we must understand, accept, and demonstrate our worth individually and collectively. We must challenge those who degrade us, control us, and who make us feel inferior. We must fight against institutional biases that keep us from achieving our goals, that keep us from shattering the glass ceiling, that keep us from demonstrating our intellectual and creative prowess. We must continue to advocate and fight for gender parity and equality in the workplace and in society. We must stand together as a unified and cohesive sisterhood, lifting one another as we do battle with those who want to keep us down, keep us from valuing our true worth.
“I raise up my voice—not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard… We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” –Malala Yousafzai
-Karen Harris, Vice President, Business Development
Choosing to Challenge, in my opinion, starts with challenging our own self-talk. Life comes down to making the next right choice we are presented with in our lives, minute by minute. We should examine what drives those choices – our beliefs, goals and expectations, or some outside negative influence telling us we “can’t” or “shouldn’t” pursue the next big thing. I have had a fantastic career in computer technology and cyber security and found if I didn’t get a fair seat at the table, I could pick up my marbles and either go to a better table or build my own!
-Carly Logan, Compliance Manager
#ChooseToChallenge means not accepting the status quo, not turning a blind eye to inequality, and not letting society tell us “no”.
“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” – Michelle Obama
-Shannon Brightharp, Marketing & Executive Assistant
To the women who got us here, the women who make us who we are today, and the women who will lead us into the future, I see you.
-Harry Boston, President
In my family I have a wife and a huge number of nieces and their daughters. I want them to succeed and flourish in an inclusive workforce and be treated fairly and respectfully. I always concentrated on telling them that they are smart and are talented because I want them to understand they are bright and capable people.
-Dan Ciarlette, R&D Program Director