The rise of the woke woman

woman working surrounded by other women
Bianca Way
Fri 01 Nov

Social consciousness is an interesting thing, especially in a time where it’s so easy to share our voice with the world thanks to social media. It’s easy to share, but there’s a lot of voices out there, and it’s hard to get our opinions heard amongst the chatter. Is it just me, or is there something in the air in 2019, something that’s waking us up more than ever before? 

Obviously, the conversation about gender equality is a topic that has been at the forefront of social consciousness for over a century. Women have been protesting and trying to drag ourselves from the primordial ooze that is millennia of being considered the weaker sex, and lately I have discovered that more and more women are struggling to determine what we want to do with the “roles” that have been placed upon us. 

Society has a long way to go before there is real equality, and while the Gen Xers and younger are mostly onboard with the whole idea, I have found that more and more women are discovering that there’s no time left for men to get on board, because we are going to take it regardless.  

I have two kids, whom I adore, and ten years ago I could imagine nothing more rewarding than being a mother, and a support to my family. I wanted to have babies from as young as I can remember, and I still want to be a mother, but I am very tired of having to fight my way back into a place of respect in the workforce, because I have chosen to procreate. 

Prior to starting our family, my husband and I both worked in the same job, quite literally we did the exact same thing, for the same company, for an hourly rate, of which I was paid $4 less. This was due to my negotiating power, obviously. 

Then we had our daughter, and I stayed home with her while running my own business, I worked my arse off, and built something that I am still immensely proud of. After nearly 5 years away from “employment” and 4 months after the birth of our son I returned to work part time. Although I had gained so much business experience being self-employed, my main focus during those years was being a mother, and consequentially, I was awarded salary 40% lower than my husband, and a position not equal to my skill set, almost as if my professional experience prior to motherhood had expired

EVERY single mother is asked the same question when they go to work; “Who’s watching the kids?” I bet my bottom dollar that most working mothers have been asked “Oh don’t you miss them?” Well guess what, for me to be at work, means they are in someone else’s safe hands, and also, of course I miss them! But the fact is that some employers expect you to work like you have no kids, society expects you to parent like you have no job. 

I am at a point in my life where I have had my kids, my baby making years are behind me, and I am ready for the next stage of my career to start. My body is finally my own, I am gaining more time, and my kids are getting more independent. I am ready to disrupt, I am ready to surpass any success I have had in my life so far, and I am fairly certain I am not alone in this. I would assume this is why the number of women owned, run and led businesses has been growing steadily over the years. Rather than waiting for a workplace to appreciate and respect us, we are making our own. The Financial review reported last year that; entries in the business and entrepreneur category tripled in number, reflecting the advance in female entrepreneurs. Women today own almost 40 per cent of Australia's small businesses.

Women have been sharing stories with me about how they are at a point where they are seriously evaluating everything they want in their lives. Feminism has empowered us (to a degree) in the workplace however we are really shaking up every role. Redefining what it means to be a mother, wife, girlfriend, lover, friend, human. Many women are finding they don’t necessarily want or need kids, or they don’t want or need a spouse, women are discovering that they can do it on their own, and that its ok to be alone, if that’s what you need. 

I write this in the hope that it inspires you to have the conversation, as a way to invite people to share more about what this awakening means for them. Have you been having these thoughts, these discussions? Have you been feeling entirely energized whilst also entirely vulnerable? 

This is not a hobby, this won’t go away. Women are stepping out, we are writing books, we are podcasting, we are shaking up industries, we are being scarily authentic and letting our lioness voices roar out over the chatter. We are suiting up, we are leaving the house (the kids are fine, trust me) and we are taking what we are more than capable of having