For those who didn’t know, we’re celebrating Women’s Month this March! This month is a reminder to everyone about the great strides that were taken in the past in order for women to get more rights in society. Besides being an avenue for protest, Women’s Month is also a way of celebrating womanhood in all its beautiful form. This 2019, the campaign theme for International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter, focusing on the need to create a more gender balance in all aspects of society.
Acceler8 is home to some strong female leaders of today. Whether they lead their own teams or they are part of one, we are celebrating every single one of them this month! We believe that our workspaces have been a place for them to thrive and excel as leaders in their own teams and as individuals. Mosselle Cruz, Country Launcher for FastCo Philippines, Agatha Dacanay, Designer for M. Moser Associates, and Ishii Villaseca, Creative Director for Disjointed Studio, share with us their experiences and their thoughts in being leaders and frontrunners in their respective companies.
We all have female figures who have influenced our lives greatly, whether it is our mom, a mentor from college, or some established politician. Whoever it may be, we all have women in our lives that we look up to. Our community members share with us who are the strong female figures that they look up to and their influence on them.
Mosselle Cruz talks about her admiration for the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and how her all-female educational background has helped shape who she is as a person and as a leader:
Call me cliche but I have always been fascinated with Miriam Defensor Santiago’s fierce spirit! Her fight and the fire just leaves me in awe every single time. Also, I went to an all-women’s college and have met many amazing women mentors. I think my alma mater, St. Scholastica’s College Manila has instilled in me the value of independence and the unique strength that women have. One’s opportunities should never be limited because of gender, and I strongly believe this goes both ways.
When looking for strong women to look up to for inspiration, Agatha Dacanay and Ishii Villaseca share with us that we do not need to look far when looking for strong female figures to look up to. They exist in the very fabrics of our everyday lives in our family.
Ishii: My mother has been a pillar of strength, determination, and independence. The type of benevolent individual who loves to help anyone in need. Growing up, she encouraged entrepreneurship through crafts, creativity through arts, and leadership through writing (I got my first article published in Junior Inquirer at 10 years old!). She taught by example, often the value of giving back to others, and inspired me to never conform and exude loyalty and commitment to my passions in life.
More than serving as inspirations and role models, strong women serve a deeper purpose in our lives and in our society. These women are the movers and shakers of today. They are part and parcel of why we are moving forward as a society. Women have gone past no longer confined to the gender roles that were assigned to them before and they are now making a name for themselves. Moselle, Agatha, and Ishii share with us the importance of having strong female leaders in our society.
Mosselle Cruz: We are lucky to be alive at a time where women are being recognized more in both society and the workforce. While we still have a long way to go, it is always good to see the walls of patriarchy slowly crumbling down and more and more women stand side by side with men in changing the world a day at a time. I also think women have always had a different approach to leadership and positions of power. We are able to bring so much finesse to an otherwise brutal environment all while maintaining the balance of the environments we move around.
Agatha Dacanay: The presence of strong female leaders uplift the confidence and self-perception of fellow women to be able to make empowered decisions that affect opportunities in their life.
As leaders themselves, these women also talked about the importance of having women in leadership roles. More than this, they also shared the importance of uplifting and empowering other women in society, an act that is much needed in a society that continues to look down on women.
Mosselle Cruz: Women should always empower each other. That’s always my mantra. I have always hoped that my humble achievements would somehow inspire the women around me, make them see that there’s no limit to what one can achieve. Women have always been punished for being women– we are cut off from opportunities, pinned down by society’s expectations of what is ‘proper’, and overall smart-shamed, slut-shamed, woman-shamed. This is one thing I wish to raise awareness on with the life I live. As a woman, you don’t have to apologize for who you are and what you decide to do with your life and career. You can be a single woman traveling the word, or you can be a mother and still be a badass lady boss. There’s really no shame in the choices you make for yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with seeking equality in the eyes of our otherwise conservative society and culture.
Agatha Dacanay: I always try to support organizations that create opportunities that influence legislation and policy that promotes gender equality in both the local and national levels.
Ishii Villaseca: I think as founders, a vital role we play in empowering peers, is to encourage a mindset of curiosity and purposeful intent. Helping each other advance to a higher level of morale and motivation. In turn, this creates a supportive environment where responsibility is shared and actions are influenced to support the greater good rather than for personal interests.
In line with IWD’s #BalanceforBetter campaign, these women shared with us the joys of being in teams that are well-balanced and diverse in terms of gender. They talked about how important it is to go beyond one’s gender when choosing who gets to work and what type of work they get.
Mosselle Cruz: The team is 98% women! Overall, I think the workplace should be blind to gender, and more focused on talent. Talent and attitude, and what value can a person bring to the team and the company. Special treatment is definitely out of the question– I’m pregnant and I still go for events and report for work everyday (with the advice of my doctor, of course). Same goes with male teammates and of course the LGBT members of the team. When you are part of the FastJobs team, we see you as a person, first and foremost. And your skills and contribution are what we look at above anything else.
Agatha Dacanay: Our team is built on a lateral structure. Members on different employment levels are grouped into teams that perform specific job functions with a common effort. This encourages a shared responsibility by empowering the judgment of each individual without emphasis on rank or gender. This results in better thought out results while eliminating delays in decision making.
Ishii Villaseca: Cultivating gender dynamics in our studio, we work distributively, synchronously and collaboratively. Nobody gets left behind.
As a society, we have greatly progressed in giving more space to allow women to flourish as individuals in our society. More and more women are becoming successful individuals in our society, not because of their gender, but because of what they can do as people. In the next few years, Mosselle hopes to see more women stepping up in our society: “While we have come a long way, with the feminist movement going strong, fighting for the rights of women across the globe, there is still so much more to be done. I hope to see more women stepping up, conquering male-dominated industries to bring in the unique innovation and insight that women have to offer. Other than this, I hope to see more equality in opportunities for women, the breaking of stereotypes, and a continued battle for the rights of women in areas of healthcare, the workforce, and society overall.”
Agatha shares a similar sentiment: “It’s encouraging to see a change in the leadership landscape. Hopefully in the future opportunity, will be merit focused instead of gender driven.”
From a more organizational perspective, Ishii wishes to see more women in more corporate leadership roles: “The fundamental shift in gender equality has already changed the way we lead, decide and cooperate in organizations. This has also lead to fast and widespread changes and challenging old structures. I hope to see more female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. Currently, there’s only 24.”
We salute all the fierce women who continue to inspire us to be better individuals! May you all continue to thrive and prosper in your chosen fields!