Dr Jummy Okoya
Senior lecturer, organisation behaviour & HRM chair, UEL Women's Network & Athena Swan Lead
"As a black woman I have had my fair share of bias at work as well as in my personal life. The one that stands out most shockingly to me happened fairly recently. I was leading a module and in my bid to enhance the student's experience, I decided to include employer engagement by linking the module assessment to an external organisation's platform.
"As part of the process I contacted the organisation's representative asking them to come on campus to deliver a session for us. I copied a part-time member of staff who was supporting me on the module into the email, who happened to be a white male. To my surprise when this external person was responding, he responded directly to my male colleague confirming arrangements with him. When I asked him why he responded to my colleague instead of me, he said he did not know I was the module leader even though I was the one that initiated the email. Why did he assume that I wasn't the module leader? His assumption confirmed his bias that the man was more likely than the woman to be the module leader.
"IWD is marked around the same time every year, however I believe women should be celebrated all year round for our contributions and the significant roles we play in the workplace and the society at large. I celebrate all women who consistently show up gracefully in the workplace despite juggling multiple commitments as a wife, mother, sister, care giver.
"IWD represents an opportunity to celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness of women's equality. The IWD theme for 2022 is BreakTheBias, this is a call to action to break the bias of stereotypes, discrimination, inequities which makes it difficult for women to progress and flourish in workplaces.
"On behalf of UEL Women's Network I join millions of other women around the world as we strike a pose to #BreakTheBias and show up in our full glory. "