To celebrate International Women’s Day, Helpshift would like to introduce you to a few of the amazing women on our Team and share their stories about how they relate to this year’s theme: #choosetochallenge.
Pavitra Shetty — Software Engineer II
In one of my previous jobs, I had a colleague with whom I bonded over our equal levels of industry experience. She was particularly well-known for her quirky behavior and witty remarks. She would laugh so loud that the entire floor of 50 developers would get alarmed. She would sing in the worst voice ever, pull harmless pranks on colleagues, and discuss stupid topics in public without a care about who could be listening and judging.
She would often say, the world is filled with hypocrites. Society commands us to act lady-like, which has to be interpreted as keep mum and react only when asked to. “Whenever I get such free bits of advice, I nod to show agreement and then do what I was going to do anyway. The only person I want to impress is myself.” Words to live by. Like most girls and ladies I know, I too struggle to maintain this mindset at all times. But I am not going to give up.
I admire Sudha Murthy who raised her voice to the mighty Tata to become the first woman engineer at TELCO. She supported her husband in his entrepreneurial pursuits without compromising her own aspirations. She didn’t give up her self-esteem because the society wasn’t ready for it.
Be yourself. Love yourself. As long as we are not offending or attacking anyone, we should speak out. Raise hands, ask questions, take part, contribute, lead. At work, at home, everywhere. I choose to challenge the backseat that women take in their lives.
Janice Le — Chief Marketing Officer
What is one word to describe being a woman? Unstoppable.
What does #choosetochallenge mean to you? “The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday” — Bruce Lee
Who is someone that inspires you and why? Bruce Lee because he mastered the his craft, challenged the status quo in the film industry, and lived his life with peace and clarity. He was resilient and adaptive, like water. “Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle.”
What is the best advice you have received? To tell your story, create your label, and own it.
How do you actively #choosetochallenge? I am a lifelong student of my craft. Each day, if I’m not learning then I’m not growing. If I’m not growing, then I’m dying.
How has choosing to challenge gotten you to where you are today? It’s helped me reflect on each day with no regrets, and each day feels like a personal victory.
What is one thing you wish you could say/one piece of advice you would give to your younger self/any young woman reading this? Even when you think you’re being bold, you should be even bolder.
Where do you feel there is growth for women’s equity in our world today? For a woman’s voice to be valued as a woman’s voice, vs. as a voice that is simply absent of gender.
Samantha Pang — Senior Director, Customer Success
#choosetochallenge — To me, this means making a choice and a conscious decision to challenge gender bias and inequality in everyday situations and help create a more inclusive world. Not so much at Helpshift, but when I worked at a gaming company previously, 9 out of 10 times I was the only female in the room. In addition, it was a Japanese-owned company where a high level of gender inequality still exists. I learned to speak up and challenge them with supporting facts and data. I also strived for us to be on level ground rather than men vs woman battle. In some countries like Japan, if women want to have a career in Japan, they have to sacrifice a lot. This is something that I hope we’ll see change in the future. Recently, Jacinda Arden, prime minister of New Zealand inspires me. Her immediate response to the COVID -19 pandemic was truly commendable.
From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge!
Shannon Bradford — Senior Manager, People Operations
#choosetochallenge — To me, is how each and every person is responsible to speak up and to always emphasize equality. We should acknowledge the many great strides we’ve made for gender equity, while continuing to recognize and make conscious efforts to improve what remains unhelpful to women, and any underrepresented group.
Personally, #choosetochallenge is my inspiration in challenging myself. What I’ve learned is to take risks; embrace change; give yourself credit; call out your accomplishments and celebrate them; raise your hand; always be asking, “Why?” These things, I have found to be invaluable, and go such a long way.
There is a quote by activist Maggie Kuhn, that resonates with me:
“Speak your mind — even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say.”
Devangi Kamra — Director of HR
As a woman, I am the one that Star Wars referred to when they said “May the force be with you.” I am the power that needs to be reckoned with. And I am a mere representative of the whole womankind so you can imagine what a FORCE we are together! To me #choosetochallenge means challenging the norms, the inner hesitation and insecurities to be able to soar! The best advise that I ever got was “Yes, you can!” If I were to give an advise to a younger me, I would tell her that the world is yours to grow into, fear less and charge ahead more. I feel that there is growth for equity in every field today. Though we are making huge leaps, the gap to bridge is so large that it will take all off us to get at a level that is an even ground.
Claudine McManus — Executive Assistant
A few years ago, when I was still a full-time mom, I headed my son’s school’s yearbook committee and had a powerful ah-ha moment. I realized that I had marketable skills and a work ethic that was worthy of a fulfilling career and financial rewards. And I decided I wanted to return to the workforce.
It took courage, tenacity, and lots of positive self-talk to power through the stumbles and self-doubt. Telling myself to “never lose sight of who YOU are — fearless!” and that “I may not be there yet, but I am closer than I was” (borrowing words from the inspirational Misty Copeland). I listened to and trusted myself and now, I am an Executive Assistant to the CEO of Helpshift — a dream job.
My words of wisdom for all of those stay-at-home parents considering a step back into the workforce: Do it! Join me! Start your next chapter! As I have found, there is so much to gain from the “working you”.
Mantras from this working mom:
- Acknowledge the many ways you contribute, across the many roles you play every day (parent, partner, sibling, coworker, friend… — they are all valuable!).
- Embrace continuous learning and saying “I don’t know” to educate yourself and grow.
- The kids can and should pick up some slack and, as they get older, fend for themselves sometimes.
- Be OK with the house not being perfect.
- Love, appreciate, and feel worthy of the money you make.
- Pat yourself on the back for conquering fear, forgive yourself when doubts get the best of you, and practice the power of positive self-talk.
Julia O’Brien — People Operations Coordinator
“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong, it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” — G.D. Anderson
Choosing to challenge to me means choosing to speak up when there’s something you see or hear perpetuates a discriminatory narrative. It’s being persistent and insistent on an equal world. It’s not always an easy thing to push for, and a lot of times being passive is a more tempting route but that’s why it’s an active choice and a challenge (not to mention it has the best payout!).
I learned from an early age to speak up, and owe that to my mother and my grandmother for being my strong, female role models. In times of “can’t,” they showed the world they “could.”
Tripty Bhati — Product Designer I
They say that choice is a privilege. A gender-biased privilege. I bow down to all the women who made this strenuous journey from not having any choices, to making their own. From choosing to write their own stories, to choose not to accept. From choosing to believe in themselves and ask for what rightly theirs, when others chose silence. To choose to challenge. I bow down to all the women because of who, now I have this privilege; privilege to choose.