Women's Month 2022: Team Member Highlight - Twyla Risby
Name: Twyla Risby
Title: Change Consultant
What is a career highlight that exemplified Female empowerment in the workplace?
When I was promoted to Foreman of my own crusher in the construction industry, I received no empowerment from the male staff. They continually acted and dismantled my celebration in that moment. However, women in the same company and outside of our organization lifted me up and provided that empowerment. While on site, I was the only female, and during that time, I had to dig into my resiliency to cope with sexist remarks and mindsets - having that sisterhood, even though it was outside the scope of my work, helped create a sense of common strength.
Can you share a time when you experienced discrimination in the workplace?
In my career path, I’ve worked in roles that are (in a misogynistic way), viewed as more "female-led", roles such as receptionist, waitress and the like. However, one snapshot of discrimination I've faced was on the aforementioned job site, which was very male dominant. The one that sticks out for me was a time that a male colleague asked “Why do you work here?”
I explained my training and my aspirations as a woman in industry and he continued to try and reduce my contribution to the company by telling me that I should "just stay home, have babies and get married... as every other woman should."
Not all women can or want to have babies, women with children can still be in the workplace should they choose their life path - what fills their cup. It struck me that even in 2020 this mentality existed,... that another human being is only useful for the biological function of reproduction and raising children.
This mentality is sadly one that I encounter on a routine basis.
What does it mean to you to be a female-presenting individual in our modern workplace?
It’s hard, you would think in today's world we wouldn't have to still be continually faced with misogyny, bigotry, pay inequality, racism, sexual harassment and so on. The issues spread far wider than just pay inequality, but being a female-presenting individual in a male-dominated workforce is incredibly challenging.
For example, in the job I mentioned above, I was trained for the position, hired and given a raise each year. After seven years of working my way "up the ladder", I had had a wage increase of around $7/hour. I came to find out that a new hire who was male, with no certifications or training, who continually had to be disciplined, was making the exact same wage as someone who had seniority in both skill and level.
The other part of this challenge that stands out to me is the sexualization and misogyny that sadly permeates a lot of today’s workforce whether it be microaggressions or direct intolerance.
Any advice for younger female-presenting individuals entering today’s workforce?
It’s going to be tough, there will be bullies, there will be naysayers. If it's a male-dominated profession, sadly there will be males who will do everything in their power to challenge having a female-presenting individual in that field. My best advice is to be resilient - don't give in - and remember your strengths. Remember who you are and where you come from. By holding onto you own strengths and not listening to discouragement, you will continue flourishing in whatever industry you chose.
Remember you got there on your own, and you can continue moving upwards on your own.