April 1, 2011 by Ilene H. Lang
Among the many insights shared at this week’s sold-out Catalyst Awards Conference and Dinner (and I’ll be highlighting more on Catalyzing in the coming weeks), was this gem from Rhonda Joy McLean, Time Inc.’s Deputy General Counsel. “You better speak up for yourself, baby!” she told attendees.
Rhonda’s advice really resonated with me—especially after a recent bout of laryngitis.
After launching the Catalyst Israel Census in Tel Aviv, I was stricken with a full-blown case. Under doctor’s orders, I had to stop trying to talk. This was a new experience for me—I’m not used to not being heard!
After several maddening days of silence, I realized that voice is a privilege not to be taken lightly. And with that privilege comes the responsibility to speak up for yourself and speak out when you see women valued less than men at work and across society.
As I told the crowd at the Waldorf-Astoria, say something—and do something—when you see men advance more quickly than equally qualified women, when you are asked to appear on a panel or participate in an event where there are no or few women, or when people tell you there weren’t any qualified women to fill a position. Ask: Did they look hard enough? Did they assume a woman didn’t want the role?
Use your voice to fight against sexist stereotypes that devalue women, and use it to advocate for yourself. Your voice is powerful and will inspire others to act. Use it to speak up!