Inspiration,  Professional

On #INWED21 and every other day, we are Stronger Together

Exactly a month ago to this day, on 23 June, it was International Women in Engineering Day. It is a day that celebrates females in the STEM fields. I had an incredibly busy day that day, and I worked until quite late, but I felt that I needed to do a little post to Instagram and Facebook, as well to LinkedIn, before the clock struck midnight. I felt that I needed to release into the world a glimpse of the struggles we still face in the field, and in the world. It was something I needed to do for myself, even though I thought it may not get much engagement. And because it was so late, I didn’t expect the post to get much attention.

The post read as follows, and it was shared along with the pictures below:

I’m a muslim female engineer of colour in hijab…

Read that short sentence again and realise how many biases I have to fight every day. Really think about it. (tip – it almost doesn’t fit on one hand when you count them) And I’m not saying this to prove I am somehow different or special. In fact I am not. Our stories may all be different but they are oh, so similar.

What people don’t realise is that to even make it as a female in this field, you have to have proven yourself to be exceptionally good, because the assumption is that you are naturally not. It’s seen as a man’s profession, so they don’t face the same obstacles to growth. Yet the having to prove yourself part is neverending. Yes it makes us strong and resilient, but sometimes we don’t want to be so strong and resilient, because why can’t we just BE?

On this International Women in Engineering Day, I salute my sisters everywhere who go out and fight the good fight daily, who go out into the harsh world and slay anyway, who chip away at glass ceilings until they get smashed to pieces, and who build other women up at every turn.

To the men who are allies, I appreciate you and love you so much. You can help by amplifying our voices in boardrooms and other platforms whenever the opportunity arises…not because our voice is weak, but because it is still suppressed at every turn.

Well, boy was I wrong about the post not getting much engagement. Across all platforms that I posted to, it was officially my best performing post of ALL TIME. I don’t actually track engagement, but this was by far higher than anything else and I was blown away by it. It even got more interaction than my Ironman finisher pictures.

I was stunned. Clearly it struck a nerve with people.

So many women came out unequivocally shouting: “ME TOO!!”

So many men came out saying: “I really had no idea this is what you go though.”

And so many people gave me the most warm and loving comments. It made me feel seen and heard, and realise again that no matter how isolating it feels and how steep the mountains we have to climb, there are always people in your corner and people who believe in you and know your worth. And we all need a reminder of that every now and then.

It is a testament to how critical it is that we share our stories. Because sometimes the battles make you feel so lonely, but so many are experiencing a similar thing and need to hear that they are not alone.

So let’s continue to share our stories where we can, because it matters. And we are Stronger Together.

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