So where should women start? With all of the issues that are present, it might seem daunting to acknowledge these issues and actually discuss them. We are all well aware of the stats — and the lack of women within the industry — so now we have to get down and dirty!

media update’s Talisa Jansen van Rensburg attended Google’s Women in Media and Policy event on Monday, 9 March. Based on the discussions at the event, here are the real, raw conversations that should be taking place between women:

Gender inequality is a thing

Yes, at your company, there might be an equal amount of women and men — there might even be more women. But here is the question: Do women and men get paid the same amount for the work they do? Well, according to a recent study done in early August by Giraffe “on average, women in South Africa earn 25% less than men.

The study also found that “managers who are women earn 21% less than men who do the same job.”

But, even when women do receive the same payment as men, they feel that they need to do more to prove they deserve it.

“I constantly feel like I need to be running faster than my business partner because he is a man. I need to show up earlier, I need to know more about the business,” said Thabile Ngwato, co-founder of Newzroom Afrika.

Women need to have this discussion and acknowledge that they are worth just as much — and are equal to — men. If they get paid the same amount as a direct colleague who is a man, they don’t have to try and top everything. But, this will not just come naturally for women; this has to be something constantly talked about to ensure women feel valued and equally important in business.

Sexual harassment is still happening

Women need to talk about sexual harassment that they still face on a daily basis from men. “If a man cat-calls me, I will turn around and tell them no one talks to me like that,” said Penny Lebyane.

Women need to encourage and remind each other that they need to speak up when they feel sexually harassed. Talking about it is important because other women need to know it's happening, and that there are ways to deal with it.

“Fireable offenses are fireable offences, [and] we have a strict sexual harassment policy [at Newzroom Afrika],” said Ngwato.

Implementing strong policies against sexual harassment will encourage more companies to do so and will also encourage women to ask for stronger policies to be put in place to protect their human rights and feel safe and respected at work.

Why do women bring other women down?

It is a tough world out there, and for so many decades, women had to fight hard to reach the top in their careers — often because there was only one spot for one woman! A recent study done by JSE showed that “only 3.31% of chief executives of JSE-listed companies are women.”

Although these stats are truly shocking, women need to understand that times are changing and that the feminist movement is taking place. Instead of tearing each other down and fighting for a single spot, they will need to start building each other up and try to make other women’s journeys easier.

“If I have gone through it, you don’t have to,” says Lebyane. This is a mentality that women need to develop and communicate with one another.

Women who have struggled to get where they are need to deliberately make space for other women. This helps other women to have an easier journey within the specific industry that they choose to into.

Take up your space (and don’t apologise for it!)

From a young age, women are taught to behave like a ‘lady’ and only speak when spoken to. With each new decade, the way people raise their daughters' changes — but there is still an underlying issue where the mindset of the young girls is shaped by the ongoing experiences of the women before them.

“Women bring diversity to a situation. [They] need to learn to engage with each other and be kind to each other.” says Charmaine Houvet, public policy director at Cisco Systems. Women need to talk about the fact that it is okay to have an opinion, ask questions and challenge issues that they don’t agree with.

“Men put themselves first, and this may be viewed as selfish to women. But if you are not in a good space, and you are not doing good to yourself, how do you expect to be good to anybody else?” says Ngwato.

“I think if there is one thing we can learn from men, is to put ourselves first; it doesn’t mean you’re mistreating anyone, or going out of your way to be boastful or arrogant — but putting yourself first gives you a better chance to be able to thrive [and help others to thrive too].”

That is why women need to encourage one another to take up their space and not apologise for it — you have every right to be there!
Women need to talk about the fact that it is okay to have an opinion, ask questions and challenge issues that they don’t agree with.

Tapping into the feminine intuition

There is a huge movement in the world at the moment surrounding gender inequality, gender-based violence and the suppression of women. Women are ready to make the changes they want to see in the world.

This is a great opportunity for them to get together and talk about these issues and stand together. By talking to one another, and tapping into the feminine intuition that women have, new ideas and solutions will surface.

“Women have the ability to see things that men just can’t see,” says Ngwato, and this is something that women can use to their advantage.

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What are some other important topics you think women should be discussing with one another? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Need some more inspiration from women who are shaking up the media industry? Check out these 10 South African women in the media you should definitely know about.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy