As of this year, as well as being Women’s History Month, March also marks Women’s Print Herstory Month – an opportunity to champion women working in print as well as women and girls considering or starting out in a career in the industry.
Cooked up by Print Media Centr and Girls Who Print, the initiative provides an opportunity to share stories to ensure women’s voices in the industry are heard and allow all of us to learn from and support each other.
Each year, Girls Who Print presents a Women in Leadership panel in The Printerverse, where women in the industry talk openly about their experiences in print specifically and more generally as working women.
I’ve handpicked a nugget of wisdom from each woman on the 7th annual Girls Who Print Women in Leadership Panel, along with why it resonated with me.
Vanecia Carr, Director of Customer & Brand Marketing, Domtar Paper – Sometimes you have to ask for forgiveness not permission.
Vanecia explains how if she had waited for permission to take initiative and start social media accounts or a blog or launch a magazine, those innovative steps would never have been taken. This is something that might sound familiar to anyone in a traditional organisation with a resistance to change, but it’s something that I think might be particularly recognisable to women. We can worry about not being taken seriously, especially in a company with male-dominated top-level management. Sometimes we need to know the worth of our ideas and have the confidence to demonstrate their value.
Jules Van Sant, Partner, Bubble & Hatch – I learned to not shut up.
Speaking up for ourselves is so important, and it comes back to the confidence issue. An internal report carried out by HP found that men apply for roles where they only meet 60 percent of the qualifications, whereas women tend to not apply unless they meet 100 percent of the qualifications for a position. Why is that? Women are sitting down and shutting up and possibly missing out on opportunities, when we should be standing up and speaking up and having confidence in our ability.
Pat McGrew, Senior Director, Production Software and Services, Keypoint Intelligence – Stand your ground.
It was refreshing to hear that Pat never felt like she couldn’t do or be anything she wanted; a successful career trajectory shouldn’t be thrown off course by our own insecurities and doubts over our abilities. ‘Stand your ground’ is a really simple but effective piece of advice for women, encouraging us to stick to our guns and have faith in ourselves and our ideas, and of course, not to take any crap from anybody.
Erica Walker, Assistant Professor, Department of Graphic Communications, Clemson University
– It’s not weak to be aware. Don’t think that you shouldn’t trust your instincts.
This struck me because it applies to the world of work – we should always trust our instincts and it circles back to the recurring theme of having confidence and courage in our convictions – but for women it’s a daily reality in all aspects of our lives, such as making sure we don’t walk home alone at night. It’s the reality of the world we live in; we can take steps to change it while understanding that things aren’t always fair in love, war, work or anywhere else. Sometimes we need to be extra careful. Sometimes we need to work extra hard. Sometimes we need to shout extra loud to be heard. But if you have a gut feeling, good or bad, don’t ignore it.
Julie Shaffer, Assoc. Vice President, Program and Community Development at Association for Print Technologies
– I was fortunate, at the first print company I went to work for, the EVP was a woman, and she took me under her wing. I had a strong, female presence there.
Don’t underestimate the value of female role models, mentors, colleagues and friends. A culture of support and mentorship within businesses helps us all move forward and can make a huge difference to our careers and the success of a company. In your business, make sure you’re doing your part to encourage initiatives and programs that allow colleagues to learn from each other, and share experiences and advice. And not just more experienced employees offering guidance to newbies – colleagues with more years under their belt can learn a lot from the new talent too.
Kelly Mallozzi, Rainmaker, Success In Print – I have heard women saying they are lucky [to be where they are]– how many men have you ever heard say they are lucky to be where they are in their lives? We aren’t lucky, we work hard.
Something as simple as changing the language we use can make a huge difference to how we think about ourselves and how we’re perceived by others. Why play down something you worked really hard to achieve? At some point I think it’s drilled into us that being proud of our accomplishments might come off as boastful or arrogant or smug, although I have to say I don’t know that men spend as much time worrying about these perceptions. If you think you might be using negative language, acknowledge it and make a conscious effort to change. Things like ‘this might be a stupid question/idea/request, but…’ have no place at the beginning of your (probably brilliant) question/idea/request.
Deborah Corn, Intergalactic Ambassador to the Printerverse – My audience [is more than] 200,000 people because I was willing to take that chance and say – I’m just going to be me.
Authenticity is so important. We have all, I’m sure, at some point felt pressure to fit into a box we just don’t belong in, because that was ‘how things are done’. But the reason diversity – of gender, race, age, background and everything else – is great for businesses is because variety of experience, knowledge, ideas, opinions and skills is how you move forward and innovate. If you’re trying to ‘think like a man’ or trying to act like all the older people act if that’s just not who you are, you’re not being true to yourself and you’re not encouraging your workplace or industry to consider fresh perspectives and benefit from your unique experience.
Karis Copp is a UK-based writer, journalist and communications expert. With a background as an editor and public relations specialist in the print industry, she now works on a freelance basis covering events, writing on industry news and trends, and working with businesses to help them tell their stories and connect with their customers. Follow her on Twitter @KarisCoppWrites.