Are We Equal?
In 2014, after a rewarding experience on the GALA Board—first as a member and then as Chair—I was invited to become one of the first GALA Ambassadors. We were each tasked to develop a specific project that would benefit the association and the industry as a whole, making sure that it embodied GALA’s mission and vision. My fellow Ambassadors were much more knowledgeable and capable of “creating communities, championing standards, sharing knowledge, and advancing technology,” but I believed that I could nevertheless support GALA members and the language industry in my own way.
Around that time, I learned about the HeForShe project, a “solidarity movement for gender equality developed by UN Women to engage men and boys as advocates and agents of change for the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights.” The idea resonated with me. I started researching female empowerment, women’s rights, feminism, gender equity, gender equality, and gender mainstreaming.
My research led me to investigate how other minority groups address the topic of equality in their professional sectors. I stumbled across a wonderful segment by famed astrophysicist (and black male) Neil deGrasse Tyson which characterizes the challenge quite well. When an audience member crudely asked “What’s up with chicks in science?” he declined to talk about biological differences between the sexes and replied that while he has never been female, he has been black his whole life and has faced similar social issues related to access to equal opportunity in his profession.
With that perspective, he went on to relate the extraordinary obstacles he faced as a black male wishing to enter a profession dominated by white men. “I got to see how the world around me reacted to my expression of these ambitions and all I can say is, the fact that I wanted to be a scientist, an astrophysicist, was hands-down the path of most resistance through the forces of society.”
Like Dr. deGrasse Tyson, I’ve never been female. I am a Latin American gay man. But I became very intrigued with this question: Within the language services and technology industry, do we offer our peers, colleagues, partners, employees, contractors, and even bosses, resistance or access to opportunities—whether male or female? Does the sheer number of women in the language services industry translate into equal opportunities for all? This is how we embarked in the Gender Equality in the Language Services Industry project.
What I lacked in knowledge, I made up for in enthusiasm—and GALA’s endorsement. The next step was to get support from other organizations that could help me develop a strategy and kick off the first stage of the process: obtaining data that could help us understand where we stand as an industry in terms of gender issues. I then approached Anna Navarro-Schlegel, Eva Klaudinyova, and Silvia Avary-Silveira, the founders of Women in Localization, the leading professional organization for women in the localization industry, to see how they reacted to the idea. The immediate response was extremely positive and encouraging.
With the added certainty that we needed to address this issue, I turned to Common Sense Advisory (CSA) for help.
Not only has CSA sympathized with the project, but also agreed to run a pro bono survey to help us understand the industry landscape. This is a somewhat sensitive issue, and CSA has proven to be as thorough and detail-oriented in preparing for the survey as in every project they have delivered since the early days. The fact that they required the data to be freely accessible to every organization involved in the promotion of the survey made it even more inclusive, which is ultimately what we aim to achieve with this project. The survey will run until mid-February, and can be found below.
While all responses are strictly confidential, every participant who provides a valid e-mail address will receive the results of the survey in April 2017, so make sure you respond and promote it through your channels. It is paramount that we get enough concrete data to get a comprehensive picture of workplace issues and policies related to gender in the language services industry.
The world is changing rapidly, sometimes not in the direction that we had hoped for. And while as industry players we may represent just a tiny fraction of the global population, it is our duty to fully understand the world that we live in and try to make it more inclusive, respectful, and progressive; one with equal opportunities for all. We owe this to ourselves, to our communities, to our kids, and to the generations that will follow.