Speaker: Dr. Katia Walsh, Chief Strategy and Artificial Intelligence Officer, Levi Strauss & Co.
What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?
Dr. Katia Walsh: Hello, I'm happy to support this message of celebrating and encouraging equality for women. But I'm also a bit saddened that we still need to have a special Women's Equality Day. Every day should be Women's Equality Day. Every day we should remember we are all equal and ensure we act that way. I grew up in a communist country and faced conflicting messages about women in society from an early age. On the one hand I could see women in prominent leadership positions. In fact there were quotas that 50% of leadership positions would be held by women. My mother was a leader herself and the breadwinner in the family. Imagine my surprise when I came to the U.S. years later and observed how few women there were in leadership roles. And learned that women were paid significantly less than men were. But going back to my childhood in the very same society that mandated quotas for women in leadership positions, we also felt tacit bias and stereotypes that impeded women's equality. For example, teachers actively steered girls away from math and sciences. And I was told when the time came that I did not need to learn how to drive because I was a woman. The list can go on. And that is one of the reasons I am personally so committed to doing my very best to help other women, indeed people of all gender including fluid gender, to feel equal and belonging everywhere. One of my favorite expressions is by Madeleine Albright who said, "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." I'd like to turn this around so we can say, every day is a day of equality for all, and there's a special place for everyone, regardless of gender, to be their true and full self. And to succeed, always. Thank you.