Sitting through a recent UX presentation by a design firm reminded me of an old movie by Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson titled “What women want”. In the movie, by accident, Mel Gibson’s character gained the ability to “hear” women’s thoughts and used it to his advantage, giving him an edge over his colleagues at the advertising agency.­­­­

Flash back to today. Despite decades of push for equality, we are still nowhere close to where we need to be. Gender stereotypes are still pervasive in our culture and we are constantly being asked to work harder to “prove” our worth. World Economic Forum estimated it would take 217 years until gender gap is closed globally. Women occupy less than 2% of bank CEOs positions and less than 20% of the board seats. Pay disparity is still prominent across industries and all levels. According to an Oxfam report titled “Reward work, not wealth”, 82% of the world’s wealth generated last year went to the richest 1% of the global population, while nothing went to the bottom 50%. Across the world, women consistently earn less than men and are usually in the lowest paid and least secure forms of work. By comparison, 9 out of 10 billionaires are men.

So what do women want?

Far apart as we might sometimes seem to be, men and women actually want similar things in life. We want to be accomplished at work but we also value our time with family and friends. We want to be treated equally, valued, and respected. We want to love, learn, and live life. We want to be treated as equal, and we view it as not just a matter of fairness; it is a matter of respect.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, I have asked eight friends from across the world to share their thoughts on what they want out of work and life. And here are what they have to say:

Ghela Boskovich (@GhelaBoskovich) – Founder FemTech Global & Head of FinTech/Regtech Partnerships at SBC FinTech

Ultimately I want connection – genuine, sincere, mutual connection. Why? It affords me a chance to learn, to understand, to grow, and to be challenged. But connection is composed of myriad things: respect, consideration, compassion, active listening, and valuing of each party’s experience, insight and perspective. At its root, it demands that we see each other as equals. So be it life, love, or the pursuit of happiness in my career, give me equality first, so I can give you true connection.

Catherine Flax (@CatherineFlax) – CEO of Pefin

I want to squeeze every bit out of this life.  I want to love as hard as I can, to learn as much as I can, to give as much as I can, to learn as much as I can.  I want to be able to look back at the end and say “I made the most out of the blessing of life that I have been given”.  I want to meet my maker and be able to say that the gift of life was not wasted on me.

Leda Glyptis (@LedaGlyptis) – Chief Innovation Offier of Qatar National Bank

As the song goes ‘I want to dance, I want love, lust and a smattering of romance’: I belong to the generation of women who were raised to believe that nothing is out of reach, luck, hard work and talent being equal. It was a dream that fueled my life although ultimately not always true: being a woman still comes with its entirely unnecessary battles on top of the essential ones. So what I want is now to make it true for the next lot of girls coming through. Wouldn’t that be something?

Danielle Guzman (@guzmand) – Global Head of Social Media & Distributed Content of Mercer

I think of life as the ultimate road trip full of adventure, and look at my career and my role as a mom in much the same way. I remind myself daily that regardless of the journey you are on, you are only confined by the walls you build yourself. What I want out of life? To learn – to stretch – to grow – to re-imagine. And to build incredible relationships, to love, and to be at peace along the way. I also look forward to many unexpected adventures along my journey to challenge me and pull me in new directions both professionally and personally. You only live once!

Nicholle Lindner (@Nic_Innov8) – APAC Financial Services Leader of Unisys

Women at work want a “fair go” – as we Aussies say! We want to be rewarded on merit, and to be encouraged and supported in our careers. We want to be able to do our best at our jobs, get enough sleep, look after ourselves and our families and be there for our friends. But we don’t want to try to be “superwomen” who “have it all”. We also want to be able to say “no” without saying sorry or feeling guilty. Women I know also don’t want to  judged and measured for their gender, being singled out just for being women and “ticking the diversity box”. We want to be acknowledged as doing great job at work and living a fulfilling life not just  “for a woman” but as a human being.

April Rudin (@TheRudinGroup) – Founder & CEO of The Rudin Group

After living more than 50 years, what I want from life, career, etc. has significantly changed over my lifetime. Growing up in the era of Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, I was inspired to organize a girls vs boys baseball game where we were creamed by the boys! Since then, I have learned that men and women are not the same but should be treated as equals. I look forward to that gap being closed by the nextgen of men (including my own millennial sons) who have grown-up without the biases of previous generations. What else do I want? Some Dulce de Leche ice cream is always good!

Kelsey Weaver (@KLCWeaver) – Advisor for Marstone, Detalus, and The Financial Revolutionist

I want to prove that being nice and being successful are not mutually exclusive in the business world. I want to make an impact on this world…A big one. To help good guys — AND GIRLS! — win. To be rich in trust and relationships, the only currency that matters… I want to continue to meet new people — Ones that inspire me, teach me, and help me grow, as a person. I want to never stop learning, to never give to receive, and to never let money be my guide. I’d rather be known as a person than for my career — But I do hope I can always pick up the check, too.

Mary Wisniewski (@MaryMWisniewski) – Deputor Editor, BankThink, FinTech Reporter of American Banker

As a journalist, I want my work to bring me into hidden worlds, introduce me to colorful characters and link me up with colleagues who inspire. Prefer salary bumps to freezes. I want to stay open to possibilities, such as attending tiki festivals with my pal Gidget or learning the ukulele. I want my dear maltipoo to stop barking at the neighbors. Going forward, I want to date a man with an address who likes to grocery shop.

Press For Progress

If 2017 was a year of hope and awareness, may 2018 be a year of conscious efforts towards fostering a more inclusive global economy where all genders thrive, where people with great ideas, no matter their demographics, background, and social circles, can have a chance to try and succeed. As part of his address to the summit delegates at Davos this year, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau said: “it’s time to put women first…because it’s the smart thing to do.”

As we celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women on International Women’s Day, let this be a call to action to press forward and progress gender parity. It’s not job done until we reach 50/50. But yes, it can be done. Waiting for 217 years to achieve parity is simply unacceptable.

Collectively, we can all play a part. Dare to dream, together.

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