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International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8th, and this year’s theme is captured by the #ChooseToChallenge campaign. #ChooseToChallenge is an initiative meant to act as a catalyst for women to promote awareness and express how they plan to intentionally challenge gender bias and inequality.

The campaign asks women to share a photo of themselves with their hand raised, declaring what aspect of gender bias and inequality they are choosing to tackle to take part in forging a more inclusive world.

#ChooseToChallenge aligns with the goal of IWD’s website, which has outlined four goals for their digital space. Through offering resources, guidance, and events, IWD aims to spark a call for action, promote collaboration, uplift women, and engage in philanthropy. With their 2021 theme, they challenge their community to promote women’s rights and bring visibility to women in various industries.

This call to action underscores and brings to light prevalent gender issues in society. The challenge strives to embrace and support women in all fields and aspects, such as women creatives, women in technology, women in sports, women at work, women’s health, and women’s empowerment. Championing gender equality in these arenas is especially important, because it is often where women are underrepresented and underpaid.

As more and more women enter the workforce, gender bias continues to present barriers to women who are often faced with a double standard. For example, leadership qualities in men such as assertiveness and confidence are seen as aggressiveness and arrogance in women who are exhibiting the same leadership qualities. Ambition, an admirable quality in a man, is seen as ruthless in women. The double standard places women at a disadvantage while bolstering men in their careers.

Women are much more readily scrutinized when perceived as “deviating” from their role. For example, a study found that when women speak forcefully in the workplace their “deserved compensation” drops by $15,088. Meanwhile, men don’t face the same repercussions. This disparity between treatment of men and women makes the #ChooseToChallenge campaign all the more urgent.

In the creative realm, #ChooseToChallenge focuses on efforts to increase visibility and appreciation of female artists. Challenges include calling for more commissioned work, visibility for female street artists, and taking a stand against music industry inequality.

Challenges in the tech space include celebrating digital advancements and advocating for women leading the way in innovation. IWD encourages individuals to address bias in AI and inspire more women to pursue tech careers. In sports, IWD is meant to celebrate female athletes and applaud when equality is achieved in pay, sponsorship and visibility. Similar challenges are posed in other industries, with the goal to dismantle gender-related barriers that women face.

These challenges all align with the overall mission of the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute to empower women to pursue goals without bias or barriers. Whether it’s passion projects, reclaiming their voice, or showcasing success, the #ChooseToChallenge campaign is meant to spur women towards their goals.

What aspect of gender inequality will you #ChooseToChallenge?

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