Choose to Challenge and Choose to Share: Perspectives from Women of Matter

By Matter

In honor of Women’s History Month, we tapped members of our Women Professionals Circle to share personal perspectives about being a woman in the workforce today along with how they are working toward setting positive examples of female leadership. This topic is especially pertinent given the troubling stats of how many women have left the workforce throughout the pandemic due to often unfair expectations of women having to prioritize child care and family life while balancing work. Read the testimonials below to hear these women’s perspectives and check out our photo collage of women and men from our agency sharing photos on International Women’s Day, making pledges on important women’s issues in honor of this year’s theme: “Choose to Challenge.” 

There are many experiences I could share from working in agencies for the past 20+ years, but the one thing that means the most to me is my friendships. I cannot imagine my career in media without my fabulous, strong and smart women friends. Some of my best friends are women that I met at the beginning of my career and we have supported and cheered each other along the way. While I have always believed in the importance of supporting other women at work, it has become so clear how vital it is both professionally and personally. Connecting and networking is great but I highly recommend building true relationships and friendships! – Analesa Smith, Vice President, Integrated Media

I have a rule I follow with my email correspondence, especially with clients – only one exclamation point per email. I’ve been told I’m too emotional, take things too personally, need to be more personal with clients and form relationships with them, but also maintaining poise and professionalism. I could go on, but as women, we’re told so many things ranging from “too much X” to “not enough Y” and it can feel nearly impossible to check all the boxes. Finding support and solace with like-minded, strong females has been so comforting – particularly over the last several months with added difficulties due to COVID-19. I have formed bonds with women both in and out of the Women Professionals Circle, and have found how truly meaningful and important it is for me personally to not only seek advice from strong female leaders, but to also give back that support to my peers as well. Like Michelle Obama once said: “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” – Sofia Giovannello, Account Manager

I’ve been fortunate to not experience any major forms of workplace discrimination first hand, yet I still carry the burden of trying to be the “most” – professional, knowledgeable, innovative, what have you – to prove that I’m worthy to be in the room, especially in settings with mostly or all men. It seems there are many things I need to keep in mind each day as a woman in the workplace, like how I come across in meetings or emails, conduct myself in client presentations or even dress, that men might not have in the backs of their minds. The reality is that there are double standards for women in the workplace, and while notable progress is being made to create more professional equality, it doesn’t seem like those double standards are going away anytime soon. Having a group of women at Matter who understand my experiences and can relate, who can provide resources and offer support, has been immensely beneficial. It’s important to have a network of those who can understand my experiences because they’ve faced it themselves.  – Isabelle Wigon, Digital Marketing Specialist 

I come from a broadcast & video production background. These industries are very diverse and with many women in leadership roles. I’ve been fortunate to work with many confident and generous women who not only mentored me, but also inspired me. I am grateful for the paths they cleared and doors they’ve opened. It’s worth noting I had the good fortune to work with many progressive men who also gave me equal footing and called out others when they defaulted to gender stereotypes (ex. When I’ve been referred to as a “girl” instead of a woman). Fortunately, I never experienced overt workplace discrimination, though early in my career I had to creatively and strategically navigate egos/personalities to be able to move forward my ideas. I’ve often been the only woman in the room and have had to course correct on occasions when my ideas were discounted, not heard, and sometimes co-opted later. I’ve had to handle interruptions with “if I had a chance to finish my sentence it would have sounded like this”. There was even that one time a male counterpart commented “let’s wait until we get the decision makers in the room”. And I had to say “The decision maker is me. I am the decision maker on this.”  – Beth York, Development Producer

Given the importance of strong female leadership and relationships in your career, how are you working toward setting those examples yourself?

I plan to always be open to new connections throughout my career and life. – Analesa Smith, Vice President, Integrated Media

Mentorship is a major passion of mine, and I make sure that through my mentorships, I encourage young women and leaders to always vocalize their thoughts and ideas (even when it’s difficult to do so). I want to ensure that I am there as a sounding board for reassurance and to help foster confidence. – Sofia Giovannello, Account Manager

I actively advocate for myself and others in the workplace to combat double standards, and turn to my mentors and colleagues for advice. – Isabelle Wigon, Digital Marketing Specialist

I hope, through example, I can serve to empower women to speak up with confidence.  Hearing from the all the voices in the room is vital, and I always aim to support this by opening the space for sharing and also recognizing the contributions. – Beth York, Development Producer