Mar 8 marks International Women’s Day. Though things are much, much better for women than they used to be, social stigma and societal pressure are a subtle but constant force. BK spoke to five incredible women who are making their own way.
Photo: CFCNX (Crossfit Chiangmai) #ThailandThrowdown
38, veterinarian, mother of one, Crossfitter, former Thailand national team Jujitsu athlete
After I gave birth to my daughter, my husband would help take care of the baby as he had more time at home during the day, and I would use time at work to pump milk. So I was never told to quit my job. I know what my responsibilities are as a mother, at my job, and at the gym so I don’t have to care what other people say about me. It’s just a matter of wearing different hats throughout your day whatever you have to do or whoever you have to interact with. Everyone has different qualities, so if society keeps thinking that women can do less than men, you’d just keep limiting women, we wouldn’t be able to shine, and our country wouldn’t progress as it should.
Siriporn “Pan” Trachoo
36, chief marketing officer in hospitality technology
When I came into the tech industry as a woman, whenever I’d sit in a meeting at a table full of men, I would have to try harder for my voice to be heard and to be seen. Yes of course there’s more acceptance nowadays, but it’s still pretty bad. I come from the hospitality industry and tech industry—two very male-dominated industries—and sometimes when we’d do events, people would assume that my male colleague was my boss when we were the same level. Women can do and be anything they want. Men and women have different qualities, both pros and cons, and we just have to accept each other’s differences. For me, I just have my own personal goals and gender doesn’t really cross my mind when I set goals.
As for relationships, right now I am single. I’ve dated guys who felt they were below me and walked out. It wasn’t my problem. I wasn’t trying to compete. I was just being myself. And there are some men who are actually proud of what I do.
Nualanong “Honey” Meinhart
40, Daniel Thaiger co-founder, business owner, mother of three, sister, daughter
As a co-founder of Daniel Thaiger, I’ve been discredited from time to time by people saying how a Thai woman can’t be making American burgers or running a business of this scale. A lot of people assume that I got this far because of my male business partner. I think women can do anything, we have a strong mindset to thrive and we are very adaptable. Biologically, men were created to be a leader and stronger, but I think it’s slowly fading because there are a lot of women leaders nowadays. I feel strongly that women can do anything. We just need to believe in ourselves. Many women are still sheltered because maybe no one has shown them or encouraged them that they can do anything. I just want to say that it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man, we all can achieve things equally.
I believe future generations won’t be brainwashed or affected by outdated gender inequality, thanks to the freedom to access information easily these days. But the issues can also be from the family. If parents limit their children based on their gender, then it can affect them.
40, owner of Ping’s Restaurant Group and Find The Locker Room, became a mother at 40
Getting married at an age society considers “late” and having my first kid at 40, I had to face a lot of pressure, for sure—not just from family but also from society where they feel it’s unusual. I would be in a work environment and these could be other fellow women asking me these questions, “Why aren’t you married?”, “When are you going to have kids?”. If men aren’t married or having had kids when they’re 40, maybe they get asked these questions too, but it won’t be as condescending or stigmatized as women face. For women, if you’re not married, somehow, you’re the one to blame. Maybe you’re too picky, or people may be wondering what’s wrong with you that you haven’t settled down. But why does it have to be anything wrong if you choose to be single or not have kids?
I think it’s important to keep in mind that these outdated mindsets have been around for centuries, and they are not going to change just overnight. I’m definitely concerned that my daughter might have to face some of the things I faced, and worrying about it is normal as a parent. I hope to raise her in a way in which she will be able to overcome these things or to have the confidence to deal with these things as I can’t prevent them. All I can do is to try to raise her to be able to look after herself and educate and try and help her be in a position for her to handle these situations.
32, co-founder of Yindii application, woman in tech, expecting her first baby, wife
Sometimes when my female friends in tech go for a job interview, even for C-Level positions, the questions during the interviews would be, “Are you married? Do you have kids? Are you planning to take maternity leave any time soon?” for example. But women can do everything side-by-side now, so I’m not really sure why [the industry] is still mostly men. Of the 15 staff at Yindii, only six are men. I think most companies nowaday want to make sure that there’s a significant number of women. It’s not the case anymore where women can’t get into tech companies, at least from my experience.