Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), a global holiday adopted by the U.N. in 1977 that celebrates the invaluable contributions that women have made culturally, politically, and socioeconomically. It’s also Women’s History Month in the U.S., UK, and Australia, which celebrates these same accomplishments. At Altair, diversity, representation, and inclusion are key pillars of our success, and we strive to build a workforce and workplace culture that showcases how vital women are to our success and our future. And while I enjoy promoting Altair’s success in the workplace, I also enjoy using this holiday to reflect on and cherish the magnificent, impactful women in my life that have helped me become the woman I am today. For me, IWD helps me celebrate and thank my grandmother Fidelia and my mother Ana.
Fidelia, Ana, and I were all born in El Salvador. Though I wasn’t raised there, I grew up in an immigrant household where traditional Hispanic and Asian values took precedence. That said, as I grew up, I knew I valued a career-first approach to life, rather than the traditional path that emphasized marriage and children. Though many women around the world harbor these same aspirations, many are unable to act on them due to pressure from family, friends, peers, and society. Luckily, my grandmother and my mother both supported and encouraged me to follow my dreams and pursue a career; they even encouraged me as I earned my university degree in management information systems (MIS), which was an emerging field in the early 1990’s.
My grandmother and my mother instilled a drive to succeed and overcome obstacles in me that have inspired me to take life’s ups and downs in stride so I can keep moving forward. I often think about their stories whenever I need encouragement and hope – both of them immigrated to the U.S. as wives and mothers without the ability to speak English. That said, they did whatever it took to provide me, my sister, and my cousins with whatever we needed to build a happy, fulfilling life. They encouraged us be bold, celebrate our successes, reflect on and learn from our failures, and always trust ourselves even when we found ourselves in new and unfamiliar territory. Through their support, love, and encouragement, they shaped our DNA so we grew into resilient, adaptable, and dedicated women.
Ask most women and I’m sure you’d find similar stories of inspirational generations of women (and men) that have raised and developed countless women that lead innovation and impact the world today. My story is one in a sea of others. That’s why I feel it’s so important we honor and showcase the accomplishments of women on IWD, during Women’s History Month, and beyond. Together, by prioritizing diversity, respect, and inclusion while rejecting prejudice, bias, and hate, we can raise the voices of women around the world and show future generations of women and girls that the world is at their fingertips, that they can choose their path, and that other women and society have their back.
One of my main objectives at Altair is fulfilling this vision in our culture by leading by example and encouraging the women in our workforce to “Break the Bias.” I want women at Altair and beyond to know that no matter what path you choose, you can succeed, break barriers, and shatter biases. Every woman has a story to tell, and we should lift the voices of women in the workplace, at home, in school, in media, and at home. Every woman can be a leader, and leadership can take place anywhere – be it the workplace, the household, communities, government, education, and more. Today and beyond, I encourage everyone to join me in embracing, respecting, validating, and celebrating women and their accomplishments, be they big or small. And I’d like to say thank you and I love you once more to Fidelia and Ana – the women who’ve shaped my life.