In honor of National Women’s History Month (yes, that’s a thing in March) let’s talk about the ladies. On average, women make $0.78 to every man’s $1.00, more women have college degrees, yet earn less than men, and, if wage trends continue to move as slowly as they have been, it will take until 2058 for women to be paid as much as men.
Ouch, my well-being.
Luckily, there are strong-willed, unrelenting, take-no-prisoners, never-give-up ladies around the globe working to give women an equal place in society, the workplace, and in life. And one of them just happens to be Indy local, Shauta Marsh.
Former Executive Director of the iMOCA and co-founder of Big Car, Marsh is one woman who has smashed gender inequality into tiny pieces and continues to move forward in her career, despite the obstacles that still prevail for women today.
You’ve held some high-level positions in your career—were you ever treated differently being a woman?
I remember one of the first meetings I went to as the Executive Director of the iMOCA, I walked into a room filled with white men and the man next to me asked if I would get them all some coffee. I did, and it’s not something I encourage, but I understand people are going to have preconceptions about you based on what you look like, and being a woman in a high-level position, you know it’s not going to be the same as it would be for a man. We need more women in these types of positions.
What or who helped get you through the struggles of being treated differently because you are a woman?
Pam Grier. I know those were Blaxploitation films, but she didn’t allow herself to be a victim. You don’t want to become what’s happened to you, however you’ve been hurt. There are other ways to get revenge—by being successful and good at what you do.
And my grandfather, who was Cherokee. Growing up, I saw how he was treated. Outside of Indy, any shade of brown is black and I always thought of him and the way he handled being mistreated for the color of his skin—he made jokes and he even accepted the people trying to hurt him. He was my biggest inspiration to just keep on going and don’t let those things or those people get to you or stand in your way.
What are some things about society’s treatment of women that bother you most?
When you have someone famous like Kim Kardashian, and I don’t want to slam her, but I will a little—she’s famous for having sex with someone on tape and she gets more media attention than any woman I can think of. That’s what’s being lifted up, and we’re told that’s what we should aspire to, yet people demonize Hilary Clinton. Kim K is worshiped, and Hilary Clinton is hated. When you have these expectations you tend to have fewer women pushing past it.
What can we, women, men—all of us—do about it?
It’s going to take place slowly by women challenging ideas. We have to change how we talk about each other and how we think about each other as women. On some level, I’m glad Kim K found success. It’s not her fault that is what we value about women, and it says something about our culture.
What is your advice for women? How can they move up in the work world, and in general, without compromising themselves and who they are?
Don’t be afraid of failure, be willing to fail, and rise above it. Be forgiving, because if you’re not, it’ll make you bitter and angry. Feminism to me means you love being a woman and you accept yourself. I’m happy being a woman and I don’t think being feminine in a negative thing.