The Digital Monkeys #BreakTheBias International Women’s Day 2022 Podcast

In our 3rd episode, we celebrate the fullness of ‘womanity’. The opportunity for a woman, no matter where she is , to be at liberty to choose who she wants to be and thrive: Free from bias and stereotypes. #BreakTheBias #IWD2022

Cynthia: Hi everyone, welcome to The Digital Monkeys podcast. I’m your host, Cynthia, and today, I’m joined by Franc and Jackie. In today’s episode, we are breaking the bias. 

If you’re wondering what breaking the bias is, it’s the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. Before we even go further into #breakingthebias, Do people understand what bias against women is?

Jackie: To some extent, they do. But sometimes they don’t. You find that in the things they do,  it’s more impassive. But it really affects a woman.

Cynthia: Do women also understand when there is bias against them, or do they have a feeling? Do you think they do? 

Frank: I think to some degree. Some might know, some might not, and if you look at the context of the bias in itself, is it in communities or schools? Where are we breaking the bias?

Jackie: Yeah, to add to that, you realize that some of the things we’ve grown up knowing are instilled in us from a young age. So we don’t even know it’s biased. I believe as much as we might know the bigger issues affecting us in the societies, some we don’t

Cynthia: I think also it can be unconscious you don’t even realize it’s happening. Maybe you’re the one who is doing it, or it’s being done to you, and it’s all unconscious. So I think that’s also something.

Frank: Also, your upbringing can contribute to the bias.

Cynthia: Okay. Do you think that women, for instance, in a place of work show one side of me themselves one day and then the next day show another side which makes it hard for someone to approach them? Do you think that is something that can contribute to there being bias against me as a woman?

Jackie: As much as that’s a personality trait that can happen to anyone, whether a woman or a man. Women tend to have lots of those. Yeah, and they do affect their relationships around them, but on the other hand, men take it out of context. So it’s 50 – 50. 

Frank: Yeah. I do believe – in the workplace – that has happened more often than not just by looking at the environment.  Even from HR, how things are dealt with in the first place, there could be blurred lines regarding what constitutes bias, what’s normal, and what doesn’t seem normal. 

It’s very blurred, and I think it’s changing into a better understanding. Even as the males try to get into that space to understand, I think that’s where a lot of education needs to be offered.

Cynthia: As women or even generally with men, do you think we need to be the ones to let bring out this education or bring out uh pointing out ways of breaking the bias? Is it personal responsibility, or is it something we need to sit down and teach people? What do you think about that?

Jackie: Actually, that’s a good question. I’ve never thought of it that way, but I believe it’s society’s responsibility.

Because as you are saying some things, we do them unconsciously, we don’t know whether we are being biased against women or we don’t know where we are leading on to being biased against women.

So as much as a person, I want to be taken this way; it’s society’s responsibility. It’s the responsibility of everyone, whether a man or woman. For example, you find that some people are being abused just because they are women, especially in the Kenyan situation. So what happens to them? 

Do they believe this is wrong or normal, and when you tell them that it’s not normal, they’ll turn against you, so it should be education from every corner? 

Frank: Just looking at that aspect of education, there’s inequality in education itself. That’s also a barrier that must be crossed even at the most elementary-level primary school. It’s very subjective to claim a certain sport or subject is for boys. 

And I think that in itself that inequality starts at a very, it’s preconditioned early on, even at home or at school. It begins mostly at home from how someone relates with their spouse or kid.

Jackie: Even the duties at home 

Frank: Yeah, true 

Cynthia: Can it even be siblings if maybe you’re brought up with boys, there’s a way you feel inferior, or you grow up maybe feeling like this vastness already because there’s a gender imbalance?

Jackie: Yeah, that also contributes. It does to the largest percentage in Kenya because if I give an example, where I come from, the traditions dictate that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. That’s what they say. 

Some duties are allocated to women and some to men. But to a larger percentage, you find that most of the burden is on the woman’s shoulder, which shouldn’t be the case. We should not be advocating for inequality against men but equality for everyone.

Frank: But okay, let me ask. I think this is an interesting conversation as well, there’s that conversation of boy child as well in terms of a bias in itself, and then there’s also the bias against women. It’s like a double-edged one because, at some point, there’s that attention where one feels it needs to be superior to the other, and I think that’s inequality in itself.

Cynthia: So there should be a balance from the onset.

Do we say there are ways we can contribute to breaking the bias? Does it start from us, the community, school, or the workplace? Is it in general? 

Are there places that are there specific ways you can do it at a workplace that’s different from home or somewhere else?

Jackie: Okay, if I may try to answer that, I think there is always a misunderstanding; like frank was saying, there is this discussion of child and girl child. So when you’re thinking of breaking the bias against women, we always think of empowering the woman against the boy, but that shouldn’t be the case.

Do we understand which areas should be empowered? That should be the first question, so we should start. If we talk of empowering the woman, we should speak in terms of what should be done to bring a balance to both. 

Not what should be done to uplift one and bring down the other. There are some things we should do. However, it’s not an individual’s responsibility. It’s a societal issue.

Cynthia: Can you say it starts from you because you can’t change society if the people in society haven’t changed? Because I believe when one person changes, if you change, Frank changes, and I change, that becomes a society, and we all change.

Frank: I think something quite interesting is also the awareness because you see when you’re as a person trying to effect change yeah are you aware are you self-aware of what needs to change in the first place and there could be preconceived notions in terms of what things need to change. 

You can push your agenda as a driver when you are evoking change. It’s like, how do you contextualize? Then what would be the parameter for change as an individual that would have a greater impact on the community as you are touching on one and on to the next and on to another? 

What would be those things as you build up to that self-awareness quickly and before you impact someone else?

Jackie: To support that, I think something else is important. You could be having the best of interest, but society might not acknowledge that. So what influence do you have? 

Cynthia: So you have to be a little bit influential for this change to happen, or you can try and push it even if you’re not influential.

Jackie: Exactly, you must have a strategy. As much as you are influential or not, without a proper strategy for the change you want, it won’t take place.

Cynthia: Okay, that’s interesting because I never thought of it like that, but that’s a good way. Uhm, when we were trying to break the bias, we can provide training and education to people – especially women – and then we can also do it to the men in the society. 

How better can we do this to break the bias?

Frank: I think it’s us from home, basically, in my view as in that small unit, the family. It’s the simplest place to start, and then educate your child on what equality means from a community level because that’s where it all begins.

When you treat someone special in a certain way, they tend to feel they’re not equal, so they tend to find themselves unequal. For instance, in a contextual upbringing, the first toy a girl gets is a doll, while the first toy a boy is gifted is a car.

So how do you bring that conversation at home? Maybe it could be preconceived at that very early stage where ladies just play with dolls and boys play with cars and could be they if you interchange, so ladies start playing with cars, maybe it could spark the interest to explore engineering and STEM.

I think that in itself, just starting at home and being aware – I’m not saying that you don’t buy dolls for girls – but being aware of what those variant things that you can introduce holistically would not come as unequal as from that representation.

Jackie: Okay, with that, I think that leads me to what I believe is that we lack mentorship from the onset. Because like he’s saying, from the onset, a girl is bought a doll, and a boy gets a car.

Parents are the first mentors that children look up to. So you are doing what they will subconsciously do without realizing whether it’s okay or not. You are instilling that behavior into them without realizing it. 

So I believe mentorship should first be done to parents and then to their kids because if we mentor their parents in the right way, they will be able to mentor their kids not necessarily in the family settings, but even in other areas like careers and all that.

You’ll find that most women do not have mentors. So with that, they don’t know what they need. A mentor is very important because they will guide you in the right direction. They can identify your potential without you even realizing that you are capable. So without the mentor, you’re sleeping on a talent. 

Frank: I think mentorship is also key for me, and we always look at different facets of people’s lives at home, school, or church. As on the playing ground, for instance, and through just that interaction as kids in school, how is the education sector not treating people equally while considering one variant?

So I think those different touch points are crucial. I believe in mentorship because you can have one mentor at home, your first touch point, and then at school, your another mentor at church. 

But first, a community must be aware of the narrative you’re going to drive. I think that’s where the complexity comes in because there are so many blurred lines regarding who should take what role and at what capacity or level.

Those that execute it well, have borne fruits and thrived despite the unpredictable markets and unstable economy. Those that do it wrongly, watch in astonishment as profits dwindle and competitors snatch their customers. 

So, it’s no longer just about implementing digital marketing. Today, it’s all about using the right strategies. 

One of these strategies is the 360-degree marketing approach.

Those that execute it well, have borne fruits and thrived despite the unpredictable markets and unstable economy. Those that do it wrongly, watch in astonishment as profits dwindle and competitors snatch their customers. 

So, it’s no longer just about implementing digital marketing. Today, it’s all about using the right strategies. 

One of these strategies is the 360-degree marketing approach.

Cynthia: I also think women sometimes don’t believe in themselves as mentors for other women because maybe – which results in bias – they think they’re not as good as the men in the same field.

So if women can also adopt mentorship – the women who already are in a better place than others – they can become mentors and help others rise. This way, they can also change and break the bias.

Jackie: Exactly. I’ve just thought of a thing that people say women are the worst enemies to women. This shouldn’t be the case, and because we grow up hearing that, we believe that, so I wouldn’t trust a woman with my secret.

That’s why you find even the few women who are into mentorship start with the small societal issues to change the attitude from the onset.

Frank: Let me ask. Let’s say a lady compliments another lady, and then it spirals down to a point where the second lady feels she needs to look even better than the former and becomes a competition. 

In terms of that narrative, even as a lady mentor, is there a limit to what you can offer? Ideally, you think you got where you are through hard work, and it’s not been easy, so you’ll e willingly give mentorship? That scenario where a lady feels like others should go through that journey to appreciate the work.

Have you ever felt that is that situation, or has that narrative always come to be? Or is it the norm to look up others for mentorship but accessing them is a challenge in the first place?

It’s like I got here, and you appreciate that you got but accessing them is the issue. And that also creates bias considering access is now a privilege. It’s like I have to work towards getting to your money.

Cynthia: Yeah! I think that’s also something that contributes because they don’t have that direct access, or maybe they don’t even have the person they can go to become their mentor. So I feel like that is something we can also change as women and break the bias.

Frank: Regarding accessibility, are there any platforms or places where people can reach out just to find mentors? It’s a conversation that should be driven even at the onset when you’re thinking about breaking the bias. 

Look at it this way; if I were to think of someone who’s quite influential as a lady, the first touch point would be how they get access to them. I don’t know. How do you break that barrier just for access?

Jackie: Okay, it depends on your sector or career and what you want from it. That’s how you can identify those who have made it so you can look up to them. Some institutions find those individuals or people who are interested in that field and try to mentor them, but in terms of society, I have no idea.

Cynthia: I think workplaces should create programs that promote women’s mentorships. That would be a great way to help women to find mentors. In addition, you can find one in your industry if you don’t have a mentor at your workplace. So that could be something for women to help in mentorship. 

Jackie: I feel this is the point where I should mention some companies doing really good work, such as Credit Bank. 

They launched Elev8Her, an account that comes with various qualities and benefits for women. They are not just looking at why they need you. They also consider that you need them and what they can do for you. They need you to grow for them to grow.

So that’s one thing that other companies should try looking up because you don’t just need this person; you need that person to grow, you need that woman to grow, and it should be happening even at the societal level. That’s where we are stuck, I believe.

Frank: I’m interested in breaking the bias in various industries, including finance, sports, and sciences. How do we champion more engineers? I think the bias is in those things you interact with daily. 

What avenues could people explore, and how can men contribute to that story or narrative, where they encourage and empower the uplift and actually change their script? But it’s a collective responsibility. I don’t think we can have a straight answer.

Jackie: I like your question as much as it is a question to us and society. It has brought a very interesting point to my mind: a woman’s mindset. 

Like what do they believe in because you find that we might be trying to break the bias everyone might be rooting for break the bias but them themselves they have pre-conditioned their notion that we are this way.

So whether you try to do anything, they won’t change. I guess that should be addressed from both an individual level and the other person’s point of view.

Cynthia: I think we can also go with that when it comes to women exploring other areas, like when you say sports. It also goes back to the mindset because maybe their mindset has been conditioned to believing that there are sports not meant for women. 

So if you change the mindset of a woman from that fundamental point, that’s when now they can explore, try, open a business in sports and become successful or something better. 

Even for the kids, the girls can now explore STEM and become engineers when they grow up. They can go into tech and do Math and Physics, knowing it’s not only for boys. But all that boils down to the mindset. 

So I think that’s also something that contributes to women exploring areas other than what they have been taught to believe is meant for women. 

Jackie: Yeah, even with that, at workplaces, when a woman negotiates her salary, she will be placed at maybe half of or even lower than the required benefits for that specific career position. 

Meanwhile, a man will even position themselves double, and the HR will employ the man for double and even try to back the woman’s percentage. I don’t know if you’ve experienced that in their workplace.

Frank: I think that in the workplace over the long duration that I’ve worked, it has come subconsciously where even you when you go to negotiate your salary when you’re told a certain line where you need to stick to.

I think that has come across, but the narrative should change. In terms of even HR, are there any policies or frameworks propagating inequality?  It’s not just the gender. It’s more of output and results.

Jackie: With that, women need training. We need people to educate us on what is required and what a position is supposed to be like.

For example, when advertising for a job, employers should include the job benefits very clearly so that when you are coming to negotiate, you are negotiating from a certain point. Don’t just publish an ad like that without mentioning what you’re offering.

I may ask for a certain salary, and you’ll say no, that’s too much. Or I might ask for a particular wage, and you’ll be smiling to the bank.

Cynthia: Yeah, okay, while we wrap up, do you think you can break the bias as an individual or from an individual point of view, not as a society? Can you help in contributing to breaking the bias?

Jackie: Yes, I can help by contributing 

Cynthia: Do you think you can help?

Frank: You can start that conversation where people can begin to take up sports, science, for instance. But that education would enable it even from home or workplace. 

Cynthia: Okay, I think we can all contribute to breaking the bias and help change and bring equality to society. That’s it for us. 

Thank you so much for joining us for this episode; we’ll see you in the next one.

Bye.

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