Progress, Hope, and the Next Four Years

November 25, 2016

Written by: Natalie Lim

Things have been hard lately.

The past couple months, there has been a lot to celebrate: Bill C-243 was passed, which means better maternity programs for women in trades; events like SheTalks Technology and We for She BC were a resounding success, and we've been getting increasingly excited about how amazing Creating Connections 5.0 will be in May 2017.

And then the US election happened, and it seemed like the whole world went into shock. We certainly did, here at the office - there was disbelief, and fear, and worry about what the next four years will hold for women, minorities, and other marginalized groups. To be honest, we're still reeling. 

But that doesn't mean we've given up - how could we, when there is still so much to fight for? We've seen women across the globe, from students to CEOs, pledge to support and encourage each other through whatever comes next. We've been inspired by artists and scientists alike who have promised to keep making the world a better place, no matter who's in office. Now more than ever, WWEST is committed to promoting awareness, understanding, and respect amongst diverse voices, engaging society in the value of STEM education for all, and establishing a community that will use STEM to better humanity and the world.

Today, we wanted to share several pieces that have encouraged us over the past couple of weeks - hopefully they will be as helpful to you as they've been to us.

Photo: Fortune Live Media

A Letter to Young Women, in the Age of Trump

This letter to young women from Sallie Krawcheck, the CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, contains suggestions for a number of ways that women can stand up for themselves (and each other) in the workplace. It reminds us that gender bias in the workplace is not a thing of the past, suggests making sure that your workplace success can be quantified, and calls us to go out of our way to support other women. All of these tips are actionable and important to keep in mind, no matter where you work.


500 Women Scientists

After the election, five women scientists decided to draft an open letter challenging other women in STEM fields to stand up to inequality, discrimination, and aggression, continually remind young girls and women that they are welcome and needed in science, and set examples through fostering an atmosphere of encouragement and collaboration. The letter was posted on Nov. 17th and collected over 500 signatures within hours; a week later, it had garnered over 7,500. This is what community looks like, and it is so encouraging to see. Whether or not you are a woman scientist, we encourage you to read the letter and make a personal pledge to support women in STEM.

Photo: NBC

A Letter to America, from Parks and Recreation's Leslie Knope

In case you need to laugh, and then cry, and then laugh again, Leslie Knope is here for you. This letter, penned by one of the writers from Parks and Recreation, engages with many of the emotions that we have been feeling - confusion, despair, and anger. Leslie validates those emotions, goes through them with us, and then gently points us towards hope by reminding us that there is work to be done. "I reject out of hand the notion that we have thrown up our hands and succumbed to racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and crypto-fascism...we will be kind to each other, and supportive of each other's ideas, and we will literally do anything but accept this as our fate."

Ilhan Omar speaking at the University of Minnesota. Photo: Lorie Shaull

7 Women Who Made History in the 2016 Election

Although Hillary Clinton did not become the first woman president of the United States, this election still represented major gains for women and other under-represented groups within American politics. The number of women of colour in the Senate quadrupled, a group which now includes Kamala Harris, the first ever Indian-American senator, and Catherine Cortez Masto, the first ever Latina senator. We also saw the election of Ilhan Omar, who will become the first Somali-American Muslim female legislator once she starts her term in the Minnesota House of Representatives, and Kate Brown, who will serve in Oregon as the first openly LGBT governor to be elected in the US. These accomplishments are a reminder that any step towards better representation and more diversity, no matter how small, is still worth celebrating.

Finally, we'd like to leave you with this excerpt from "Yellowbird", a poem by Andrea Gibson:

We have to create;
it is the only thing louder than destruction;
it is the only chance the bars are gonna break.
Our hands full of colour
reaching towards the sky - a brush stroke in the dark -
It is not too late.
That starry night - it is not yet dry.

Tomorrow, we will wake up and choose to be kind to each other. We will rally against injustice and be louder than destruction. Our community will break bars and shatter glass ceilings. We will create change. No matter what negative voices ring out, we will be here, tomorrow and the tomorrow after that and the tomorrow after that. There is still a sky to be painted.

It's time to get to work.

Click here to subscribe to the WWEST biweekly newsletter and be updated on how you can support girls and women in STEM throughout the coming years. And check out our fun playlist of girl power anthems to put a spring in your step and remind yourself who still runs the world (girls!).