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It’s undeniable that men and women have different experiences when it comes to the workplace and career goals. What are some challenges that women face, that men don’t? How can we each play a role in changing the status quo?

Welcome back to Part 2 of Listen to Black Women, where co-hosts Tiffany Nicole Ervin, Chris Miss and Jessie Woo are joined by NBC’s The Voice semi-finalist, Bryan Bautista, to discuss how career trajectories differ for men and women, and how both genders can help progress happen.

Ervin asks the group, “Do you guys think that it’s easier for men to take career risks than women?”

Pregnancies alone can derail your career, Woo says. “In certain workplaces, people will think that’s a handicap.”

Miss notes that there is a difference between how men’s and women’s career goals are perceived, especially when kids and families are involved. In her experience, Miss felt the pressure to give up pursuing a creative career because she was a mother. “When a man does it, it’s like, ‘well, he’s going to try to make a way for his family.’ But when a woman does it, it’s like your dreams are out the window now because you have a kid, and your kid takes precedence.”

The group shares examples of women leaders and career role models that inspire them. Woo chooses Michelle Obama, for how she sacrificed for her family but never lost sight of her aspirations. “There are sacrifices you have to make sometimes,” Woo says. “And I feel like she’s the perfect example of someone who–’okay, I yielded a little bit’—but when it was her time, it was her time.”

Bautista recalls meeting the iconic First Lady and describes the aura that she carried with her. “When she walked in the room, she exudes so much confidence. Even to this day, even though Barack is out of office, you never feel like she’s in the shadows of anything,” he says.

Our co-hosts switch topics to pay inequality. Ervin asks, “Why, in the year of our Lord 2023, are we still fighting pay inequality between men and women in the workplace? Because it’s very clear that we can do the things, and sometimes even better.”

“Patriarchy. That’s the system that we’re living in,” says Miss. “A patriarchal society is designed so that women are going to be fighting.” But things are changing, she adds. Both men and women can play a role in helping women advance in the workplace.

Woo emphasizes the need for women to support other women. She observes that some women are content with the patriarchy and will deliberately fight for progress. “We can’t always just depend on the men. We have to do it for ourselves, too,” she says.

Ervin shares a personal experience in which she discovered that a male coworker was making double her day rate, despite being on the same team and carrying out the same responsibilities. When confronted, her boss claimed that it was an oversight. Ervin isn’t convinced. Woo is also skeptical. “She should have done that for you. You saw the credentials. You see how we function. Pay me equally,” she says.

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