I do not often bother with these types of things, but since I have become a news junkie and had my eyes forcibly opened at my last job, I notice a lot more.
There was a two day conference organised by our local institute. It was something I had been looking forward to for a while. It was going to be one of those inspirational conferences, the type I love.
The reality of the world we live in, is that racism and sexism is a real thing. The institutes have been pushing women in the field, which I fully agree with.
Out of 19 presenters, there were only two woman, one Indian man, and one of the women happened to be black. Really? Do we really call ourselves inclusive? Is this array of speaker all that could be mustered? Surely if we are trying to encourage woman in the profession, we should give them more opportunities, and I know very many woman who would have had a lot to offer at this conference. The other reason that I paid such close attention the line up, was that at the last conference, one of the speakers had pointed out the skewed makeup of almost all white male speakers.
I am not saying that white males have nothing to offer, of course they do, but so do women and people who are not white.
I am an Indian female, and there are not very many of us in our profession. Everytime I go to a site meeting or just about any meeting for that matter, I have to earn respect on that team, which is just taken as given for the males in the team, no matter what their age.
I have been at meetings with a student (who I take along as a learning experience for him) to find that he will be addressed instead of myself. It is assumed he is the white male, so he must be the one who knows everything, when it is very obvious this child only started shaving in the last few years and does not even have the confidence to stand up straight. The attitude comes from men of any race.
At my last office, I was shocked to find that they considered black people not good enough to work there and it was something they would never consider. Also, the males were paid more than the women and while the women did not receive increases because of the uncertain economic climate, the men receive yearly salary increases. Even white males with lesser qualifications than the women were paid more for less work responsibility. I was shocked, sad and left there. They are the reason why BBBEE still exists.
The joke of the whole conference was that it was to promote ideas and thinking outside the box. If only they had thought outside the box when putting the presenters together.