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How Kamala Harris Is Changing The Landscape For Women, Today and Tomorrow


On November 7, 2020 it was officially announced that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had become the Presidential Elect Vice President Elect respectively for the United States. Kamala’s appointment made history as the first female Vice President; first person of colour. 
 
Cher Lee - Carol LevinePR In Canada took sometime to talk with Cher Lee, Vice President at Citizen Relations [TCO] and Carol Levine, Co-Founder & CEO at energi PR [TCO] about their thoughts on the appointment and what it means for other working women:

1) What was your first thought when you heard that Joe Biden had picked Kamala for his running mate (Vice President)?

  • Cher Lee – Finally.
  • Carol – My first thought was that choosing Kamala Harris as his running mate was the right choice, but I would have expected nothing less than him choosing a female, African American and much younger person.

2. When you hear the term glass ceiling – what does it mean to you? Is there a glass ceiling today?

  • Cher – I think of the glass ceiling as a very real limit that keeps minority groups on the outside of reaching their career potential. It unfortunately still exists today and will not come down until the traditional system we live in progresses to an equal one. Many factors need to equalize in and out of the workplace including pay parity, equitable evaluation and advancement, overcoming biases, representation, the distribution of domestic labour, etc.
  • Carol – A glass ceiling means what it always has, but I am not sure it is made of glass or concrete. It signifies the barriers that have stood in the way of qualified women ascending to positions of influence. And yes, it most certainly exists today.

3. Any advice for women looking to navigate the corporate world?

  • Cher – Be your own best advocate and remember that ambition is an asset.
  • Carol – Be the best you can be. Surround yourself with mentors and experts – you cannot know everything nor be an expert in everything. As Sheryl Sandberg says “Lean In”. Be present, be ready to express your opinion, be confident. There will be detractors and those who put up obstacles – you need to stay the course.

4. As a working woman, what do you attribute your ability to grow your career into the leadership role you are in today?

  • Cher – Tenacity, passion for my work and strong leaders who have fostered my growth.
  • Carol – I have always spoken truth to power. I am not afraid of expressing my opinion, but I have learned to do so in a way that is not pompous or condescending or angry. I work hard, do my research and rely on my experience and honesty to advance my opinions.

5. Was there an obstacle that really stands out?

  • Cher – The tech industry was still very male-dominated at the top in my time. I walked into every meeting with a purpose, didn’t apologize unless I meant it and ultimately, knew what situations were not worth staying in or compromising my values for.

6. November 7th, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took to the stage as the President-Elect & Vice President-Elect, what did it mean to you when you saw her walk out on stage as the first female Vice President in US history? First woman of colour as Vice President?

  • Cher – It meant everything. I cried! That all young girls can see something of themselves in such a powerful position of executive office and relate is very inspiring.
    Representation matters… it’s hopeful, and a start.
  • Carol – I thought – we finally made it. This was history in the making.  First woman of colour as Vice President?

7. Television & movies often portray there is a challenge for women looking to have a growing career and raise a family? Does life imitate art? 

  • Cher – I think the challenge exists to anyone who holds that dominant or sole domestic role, regardless of gender or family construct.  But I do believe there is added pressure for women and any oppressed group such as BIPOC or LGBTQ2+ who already shoulder extra weight day-to-day AND THEN also have to be the one making things happen at home… so it’s definitely a thing.
  • Carol – It is absolutely true that it is a challenge to have an exceptional career and be an exceptional parent, it’s not impossible, but it’s not a cake walk for the average woman. You need support, whether it is from a partner or family or caregiver.

8. What’s an adjective you’ve been defined by?

  • Cher – Optimistic.
  • Carol – Tireless or the most energetic

Shorty after we conducted this interview with Cher and Carol it was announced that Joe Biden’s administration had hired an all-female communications team led by Kate Bedingfield as Communications Director.  Jen Psaki, a longtime Democratic spokeswoman, will be his Press Secretary.


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