As part of Women’s Herstory Month, Ramapo’s Cahill Center held a panel on Monday to discuss workplace inequalities and the injustice women face on a regular basis in work environments.
The event, “Gender Bias – Is It Real?” included a panel moderated by Michele Brown of IntuAction Coaching and was comprised of Rebecca Novin-Cannon, JD of Novin Financial LCC, Katherin Nukk Freeman, Esq. of Nukk Freeman & Cerra, P.C. and John T. Herbert, Esq. of Herbert Law Group LCC.
Brown first kicked off the discussion by asking Novin if she has experienced any gender bias in the workplace.
“I haven’t experienced much in recent years,” she said, continuing, “where I have experienced it is in the corporate setting.”
Novin went on to share an experience in which she was passed up to speak at conference.
“I’m always asked to speak at these events. I’m number two in a group of thirteen men,” Novin stated. She therefore concluded that it was because of her gender.
Brown then addressed Herbert, an African American, asking him to explain how witnessing gender inequality impacted him.
“It wasn’t just gender – it was race as well” Herbert said. He went on to discuss that the best way he could address these issues was by getting together with various people and talk about the problem.
Brown then addressed unconscious bias, stating, “Unconscious bias is at the core of gender bias.” She then asked Nukk to expand on what gender bias is. Nukk explained that it was the thought based on experiences, whether it be the environment people live in or the values their parents teach them.
“The key right now that many employers are dealing with is how to educate people of these unconscious biases,” Nukk stated.
Brown then addressed Herbert, asking him how to reduce gender inequality.
“People at the executive level need to make an effort to diversify the workplace,” Brown commented.
He went on to state that employers need to get rid of the notion that they need the best and the brightest from Ivy League schools.
“The best and the brightest can come from anywhere,” he stated.
Brown then shared that currently, “women are more likely than men to have a bachelor’s degree.”
She asked Novin to comment on how she felt this will impact gender bias.
“I see a shift in my regular clientele away from the traditional male businessman,” Novin stated. She believed this signified a positive progression in diversifying the workplace as it also gives younger girls inspiration.
“Having women as role models is paramount to succeeding.”
Brown then talked about how women in their 30s lose the desire “to have it all” because workplaces often do not provide adequate time off or other benefits for women to have a family.
Nukk responed to this, stating that sometimes it is not always best for a woman to ask workers in an interview setting what their policies are.
“Find out behind the scenes,” she stated.
Nukk also mentioned multiple times throughout the panel the difference in progressivism in California.
“If you go to work in California it’s much more progressive and generous in leave time than the East Coast,” Nukk commented.
After the panel concluded, freshman Ryan Greff said, “It was interesting to find that California was so progressive.” He continued, “the panel was very informative and I’m glad they had it.”
Amanda Molina, freshman, added, “it was interesting because I’m going in a male dominated field — advertising, so it’s really empowering to hear from powerful women.”