#ChooseToChallenge: Women of Acquire Reflect on International Women's Day

March 8, 2021
12:00 am

Every year, International Women’s Day (IWD) serves a dual purpose: on one hand, it’s the perfect time to celebrate our past and present efforts toward gender equality – social, financial, political, and cultural. For example, as a society, we’ve made global strides towards achieving universal primary education — with boys and girls participating equally in most regions, according to the UN. 

On the other hand, it’s a great time to assess the state of gender rights, envision the future, take a deep breath and continue into battle. For instance, the pandemic has reportedly set back some of our gains toward equality, and women are still underrepresented in STEM fields. We’ll have to keep working to fix these and other injustices.

Reflections on IWD from Women of Acquire 

One of the most important things we strive for is for every single woman to have a voice: to be heard, understood, respected, and be given the chance to make a difference. 

To that end, we reached out to the Women of Acquire (dubbed by ourselves as WOA!) to learn more about them, their inspirations and struggles, and who they #ChooseToChallenge – this year’s theme for IWD. 

“A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change. So let's all choose to challenge.” – International Women's Day

Starring from WOA

Grishma Patel: Grishma is our QA Engineer with an IT background who loves trying new food and traveling.

Kailana Kahawaii: Kailana is our Technical Writer. She likes snuggling with a book, but she’s always up for adventure, too.

Manpreet Apajee: Manpreet – our Senior Graphic Designer – is a second generation Indian Sikh British Woman, hugely family-oriented with three younger siblings. She loves all things creative and visiting new places. 

My Cong: My is Acquire’s VP of People – she’s originally from Southern California, but moved to Silicon Valley years ago.  

Payal Patel: Payal is our People Coordinator who “enjoys eating dessert at any time of day.”

Rohma Abbas: Former journalist turned content marketer and Acquire’s Head of Content. Recently moved from Boston to Brooklyn, enjoying the change of pace and the variety of food.

Samantha Niro: Samantha is our Product Marketing Manager, and a water sport lover, with a healthy obsession of the reality show 90 Day Fiancé.

Shannon Pham: Shannon is our Senior HR Generalist, a Bay Area local who enjoys supporting local coffee shops, working out, and exploring the city with her two dogs.

The women who make us go WOA(H)

Many of us were lucky enough to have excellent female role-models in our lives

My aunt was big on volunteering. She was a boy scout troop leader and part of a cultural program for elders. I try to carry on that legacy by giving my time to organizations that make a difference.” – Kailana

My mentor during my undergrad. She always pushed me to do better and allowed me to explore various options to determine what I wanted to do career wise.” – Payal

My grandmother was the kind of woman I continue to aspire to be. She wasn't afraid to be opinionated and could shake down everyone, including a group of Navy officers, in a hand of poker. She took on much of the burden raising me and my siblings while my mom worked overtime and I'm grateful for it. I wish more people got to be as close to their grandparents as I was growing up.” – Sam

Cliche as it sounds, I'm going to say my mum! There is not one thing or person I've seen that woman give up on! She is number 5 of 7 siblings(!) and has 4 children [..]. She is resilient, strong, caring, thoughtful and cooks the best Indian meals! If I can become half the woman she is, I would consider myself lucky!” – Manpreet

The first woman I ever admired is my mom. She and my dad migrated to the U.S. with $20 in their pockets and hustled hard to build a good life for my siblings and I. She was the primary breadwinner and often put herself last, making sure everyone else's needs were met before hers. That included her own higher education – up until recently. Last year, she earned her master's degree, being the first in our family to do so! She plans on becoming a full-time teacher. I'm so proud of her, and if anything, it taught me that you're never too old to learn and grow.” – Rohma

My mom moved from Vietnam to the US when she was in high school, and was heavily bullied by her classmates for being a non-English speaker. As someone who didn't have the opportunity to pursue a college degree, every job opportunity she's secured she's had to work twice as hard to prove herself. My mom has taught me and my siblings that the best way to create a better life for yourself is through education and honest work.” – Shannon

As for me, I will say my mom. She’s a doctor and never off duty – she’s always ready to take a call from a patient no matter the time, and give advice (often for free when patients can’t pay). She did all that while also being a very present parent for my brother and me throughout our childhood, always taking care of us even after a full day’s work.

We’re also inspired by strong, famous women

Miley Cyrus inspires me every day. Watching her transform from a Disney star into a grown woman with a successful career has been incredible. More recently, she's begun honoring herself more and more and not letting anyone get in the way of her goals.

I can't mention Miley without mentioning her godmother too. Dolly Parton is an icon—she put her career and herself first. She's proudly child free, which may seem odd to some, but I appreciate having a successful woman to look up to who also opted out of the traditional 'life script'. [..].” – Sam

Pratibha Patil [the 12th President of India].” – Grishma

I personally admire every woman in STEM, crushing stereotypes that want women to be better suited for other kinds of professions. And I also love authors Ursula Le Guin and Mary Shelley, two female legends in the male-dominated science and political fiction fields.

A tribute to one we lost

Along with celebration of women, we also grieve for those who are no longer with us. The most recent loss was the mother of our VP of People My Doan Cong. My tells her mother’s inspiring story in a commemorative blog

I lost my mother recently to COVID-19. [..]. In grieving and processing her death I find myself thinking quite a bit about the life my mom led and wanting very desperately to tell our story.”

My’s mom grew up in Ha Noi, Vietnam, until difficult circumstances forced her to make a decision: to migrate to Beaumont, Texas. There, she had to work hard and build a better life for her family. Yet, she always encouraged My and her brother to study hard and be successful. 

I always compared my life with my mom’s and felt like I was the lucky one while she suffered so much. My life was charmed and hers wasn’t. She spent so many years working hard and I reaped all the benefits knowing that I would never be able to repay her. She loved my brother and I so much she gave every last breath even when her lungs were being ravaged by a disease that wouldn’t let you breathe. My mom’s story has been entirely that — pushing through for us.

The barriers we’ve had to overcome

There isn’t a single woman in the world who hasn’t had to overcome even a slightest challenge related to her gender. And, it’s important to share our stories, and understand each other’s viewpoints.

As an Asian(Indian)-American woman, a challenge I've had to overcome is the type of career/job I should be in rather than what I want to actually do.” – Payal

To handle family and office is a challenge.” – Grishma

Being the only woman of color in the room and not feeling uncomfortable about it.” – Rohma

Women are often relied on for what I've seen called, ‘office housework’: the administrative tasks, planning events, ordering lunch, taking notes in meetings. This doesn't just go for entry-level roles. I've witnessed female directors be asked to take notes in team meetings. The reality is by relying on your female peers to do these tasks, you are limiting their opportunities to have a bigger voice at the table compared to their male counterparts. 

“On a more personal level, as a member of the LBGTQIA community, I am often told I don't “look gay” because I don't fit the mold for what society thinks a gay woman should look like. These remarks may be harmless, but I would challenge one to check their stereotyping and unconscious bias.” – Shannon

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a boy scout. I thought learning survival skills was cool, but of course, at that time, I wasn't able to. Instead, I helped out by volunteering as an assistant to my aunt, who was a troop leader. Volunteering eventually paved the way for me to land my first college job as a tutor. I'm glad girls finally have the opportunity to participate and serve their community.” – Kailana

"Like most women, I have felt discriminated against in the workplace – specifically by white males who are in higher positions, and particularly for my race and gender. I've been disregarded, felt unworthy, overlooked and mistreated. 

“I'll give you an example. In the past, my position was higher than another man. We worked close together, had similar skillsets but I was at a more senior level and picked up larger projects. But nine out of ten times, the head of marketing would completely disregard me, my work and achievements. He wouldn't even talk to me directly for briefs, he would overlook my level and expertise and pass on messages indirectly to the person below me. Even in company all-hands, when every other person would get a shoutout for the great work they have achieved, I would receive no mentions at all, even though in [most] pieces of work displayed I had major input. Why? “Was he racist? Was it gender bias? I don't know, we had no direct issues I can think of. But what I do know is there was not one woman on the senior board, there was not one other Asian woman in the company and not much diversity of cultures throughout the workplace. 

“I'm the type of person who can shrug things off, forgive and forget. But I could not stand this anymore. It was bringing me down and affecting my work life. I spoke to my manager and HR but nothing was done, nothing changed. So I left. 

“Now I can honestly say, I'm happier than I have been in any job. Acquire has made me feel welcomed and appreciated. The diversity of cultures and ethnicities is great to see, but more so the level of talent and seniority the women of Acquire are at and building up to is admirable. I look forward to seeing us all grow and achieve great things! #WOA!" – Manpreet

Our #ChooseToChallenge pledges

I choose to continue helping forge an inclusive world with equity and equality.” – Sam

Inequality” – Kailana

Diversity and gender bias.” – Manpreet

To be unapologetically you.” – Payal

Living a life of a working woman.” – Grishma

I #ChooseToChallenge stereotypes, particularly notions about leadership. Women in the workplace often get passed over for promotions because they don't check certain boxes - e.g., they're not "confident" or "tough" enough - (read: they don't act or behave like men in those roles would). I'd love to live in a world where we rewrite that stereotype.” – Rohma

Unequal opportunities for women in the workplace, and especially women in leadership.” – Shannon 

And for me, I #ChooseToChallenge the lack of awareness about other perspectives, especially from people in positions of power. It’s important to empathize more with others who may be less influential and lend each other a helping hand when needed. 

Go #WOA!


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