“Sit at the table”

I’m a millennial senior young nurse and feminist black woman with a multi ethnic background, born and raised in an EU country. I’m a minority.

I’m a young woman in a senior nurse position. The first thing people usually think (and sometimes say) of me when they see me is that I’m young and that I’m maybe too young to be in a senior nurse position. They question my skills and knowledge. They question my ability to be where I am. Then, I’m a young woman and sometimes I wonder if they would question my professional ability if I was a young man in a senior nurse position?

I’m also a black woman but my family history goes beyond my skin colour. I carry with me three ethnic backgrounds from Africa, Asia and Europe. Now when you add these with being young and a woman in a senior nurse position, it turns out I’m someone from a minority background and that when they talk about being inclusive and have diversity and equality policies within companies I may as well represent that group.  On top of that, I’m a millennial, the most studied generation, born and bread in the world of social media and globalization. I’m social, civic and political oriented with entrepreneur skills. The odds say I’m a multi-tasker because I’m a millennial or because I speak more than one language. But it doesn’t end here. I’m a EU trained nurse and I represent the 6% of the NHS workforce that Teresa May could not promise the right to stay in the UK after Brexit.

On top of all this, I’m a feminist. Like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “I believe in the social, economic and politic equality of the sexes” but also ethnicities. I grew up surrounded by strong, confident and independent women and throughout my professional career I have found myself seeking out and looking for strong women to learned from, be inspired and collaborate with. I’ve also found myself discovering other feminists and be inspired by them. This year I discovered Sheryl Sandberg, (the COO of Facebook) and her amazing and inspirational TED talk

Sheryl gives 3 messages for women that want to stay in the workforce, urges them to be leaders and 1) sit at the table; 2) make their partner a real partner; and 3) don’t leave before they leave. I particularly liked the first message – Sit at the table. “Sit at the table” is about believing in my own skills and knowledge and be confident about them. “Sit at the table” is about recognising power. It’s a message for strong women so we can put ourselves out there (and let others deal with it!). It tell us that we shouldn’t sit in the back of the bus, waiting for the ticket collector. “Sit at the table” teach us that we should continue to try and break the glass ceiling. It gives us the power to believe that no one should say that we can’t, shouldn’t or mustn’t. “Sit at the table” is about empowering women and we sure need young black European senior nurses at the table, so do the honours. 

 © Ismalia de Sousa, 2016