Women have been earning more bachelor’s degrees than men since 1982, as well as more master’s degrees than men since 1987. However, the fact remains that the gender wage gap maintains a strong presence in America. Women account for over 50 percent of the workforce in this country, yet they are making 26 percent less than their male peers. There are more than a handful of women that want the opportunity to talk about their personal experiences in searching for equality in male-dominated industries. In “As A Woman” HRDWRKER X LADYGUNN in association with THINX present five outstanding professionals unique perspectives on the gender-motivated inequity they face on a regular basis.
Through their stories, we will not just touch on issues of unequal pay- but we will navigate through of treatment in the workplace. The subjects will also have the opportunity to offer viewers knowledge as to how being a woman has given them a special edge and allowed them to succeed in their business of choice. While women make up the majority of professional employees, the female population as a whole is still struggling to find security in male-dominated industries. We are now seeing more young girls and women make strides in entering areas of STEM, law, film, music, medicine etc. This series will offer support to those who are working to break tradition and go against the grain by providing them with access to advice from women who have paved the way.
There is no doubt about the unbalanced weight we put on gender and sex in today’s world. Despite the many adversities we face in many industries often dominated with patriarchal interest, women are a force of nature in the world that will shatter any concept of glass ceilings that are placed in front of us.
Name: ROSE MCALEESE
Occupation: Poet, Comedian, Activist, Writer.
What are your passions?
Watching re-runs of Law & Order SVU. But joking aside, I am very passionate about women’s rights and immigrant rights. My mother has been a dedicated feminist all of her life. She worked in broadcasting, journalism, and advertising, all male-dominated professions where women were and still are a minority. My mother started teaching me at a very young age the importance of raising my voice and fighting for equal rights.
My father is an Irish immigrant who came to America in 1979. Growing up in Northern Ireland, a state that was ruled by a system of religious and political apartheid, my dad has always reminded me how lucky I am to be born in America. He used to say, “I left N.I. because I didn’t want my children to be second-class citizens. And then I had daughters! The struggle is never over.” He sacrificed a lot to better himself and provide for my family.
Since I work as a screenwriter, my passion for film is obvious but I am also a huge book nerd. I am constantly reading, at least three books at a time. Writing is my major passion but you can’t trust a writer who doesn’t read! That’s like trusting a chef who doesn’t try their own food.
What do you think is your biggest obstacle as a woman in today’s world?
I think it’s women calling themselves “feminist.” So many women I know are afraid of the term. Some women don’t believe they need feminism or, because of strong “white feminist” beliefs, they don’t think they are allowed in the club, that’s it’s not “their fight.” But that attitude is detrimental to the cause of human rights. Feminism has the root “fem” but it’s not just about women. It’s about standing up for equal rights for all human beings, whatever their race, gender, sexual orientation, or economic status may be.
I believe another obstacle for women today is failing to support each other. I have been honored and privileged to have many amazing and supportive women mentors to whom I owe a good part of whatever success I’ve had. But the horror stories I’ve heard recently, especially in my current field, about women not helping out other women makes me sick to my stomach.
When is a time you were proud of yourself?
This is such a cheesy story but it’s the first one that popped into my head! When I was 16 I made it onto my first city-wide poetry slam team with YouthSpeaks Seattle. My parents were in the audience for the show but because they had to catch a business flight that same night they had to leave the moment they realized that I had won. When I got home that night there was a new notebook and a bouquet of flowers waiting for me. The part that made me actually cry and feel pure pride was the HUGE handwritten poster my dad made for me that read “YOU ARE BRILLIANT! ROSE IS THE BEST!” It hangs above my bed to this day.
Growing up it was sometimes hard for my father to verbally express the love and affection he obviously felt for me, so when ever he tells me he’s proud of me, I tear up. Thankfully, our relationship today is happier and healthier then ever. He constantly reminds me how proud he is of me whenever I go back home to Seattle.
What is your greatest accomplishment in your field?
I would have to say landing one of five coveted spots in the Universal Pictures’ Emerging Writer’s Fellowship. When I got the phone call, I tried to play it cool but the second I hung up the phone, I let all my excitement out. I started jumping up and down, fist-pumping the air in true Judd Nelson “Breakfast Club” fashion and yelling out loud “I did it! I freaking did it! A group of complete strangers believed in me!” Keep in mind I was standing on the corner of Sunset and Fountain at the time. The best part was when three dudes riding bikes rode past me and one said to the others, “This is why I love LA!”
Who is a woman that inspires you? Yeah… I can’t just pick one.
First, there are the female actress/comedians whom I hope one day to work with or at least have coffee with, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Allison Janney, Lily Tomlin, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Maya Rudolph, and Janeane Garofalo. Writers that I dream would someday write blurbs for one of my future books include Zadie Smith, Roxane Gay, Angela Carter, Sylvia Plath, Karen Finneyfrock, Tara Hardy, and Octavia Butler. I also deeply admire women who fearlessly fight the good fight, most notably Bernadette Devlin and Angela Davis. And I wouldn’t be where I am now without the help, encouragement and pep talks of my mentor and fairy-godmother, Felicia D Henderson, who has always taught me to be honest, speak up, never doubt the value of being who you are and, last but not least, know when to stop complaining and do something about it.
And, of course, there’s my mother. Anyone who knows me knows I worship my mother and once you’ve met her you’ll understand why. She put up with so much casual disregard working in environments where she was the only women in the room. She’s done nothing but support me. She constantly cheers me and on. Whenever she tells me “Rose, you’re a talented, amazing writer, and I am not just saying this because I am your mother.” If I respond with “thank you,” she immediately corrects me and says “No Rose; you’re supposed to say, ‘I know.’”
I don’t say this often enough to her, so I don’t think she is aware of how much I am inspired by her, but my older sister has been my hero, my role model and my favorite 24-hour-a-day live podcast since I was born. She gave me my first bath (in the hospital!), pushing the maternity ward nurses out of the way saying, “I know to do this.” She was 3 ½ years old at the time! My first word was not “Mom” or “Dad” but “Claire.” My mom says it came out more like “Caw!” but everyone knew what I meant. Claire is someone who, no matter what life throws at her, always bounces back. She’s the pure 100% definition of a champion of truth, justice, and the McAleese way.
What is the glass ceiling to you?
A silly little metaphor that we need to break.
photos / Graham Walzer
interviews / Koko Ntuen