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What’s Your Comeback

What's Your Comeback

By: Shaina Turgeon, CMP | Published by MPI Toronto Chapter | Mar 8, 2021

The Government of Canada defines International Women's Day as “a global day of recognition celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls, and raising awareness of the work left to be done.”  It is a day to broadcast the empowerment of women of all backgrounds and communities.  The theme this year focuses on Feminist Recovery and #ChooseToChallenge. Some of this year’s goals include encouraging women and girls in leadership and decision-making positions and improving their economic security and prosperity.  From challenge, comes change.

It is hard to believe that only a couple of generations ago, a lot of people didn’t think a woman should be working, so rather, women were mostly encouraged to marry rich!  As a young woman, reaching new heights in my career, it is tough to imagine! Although we have been able to move forward significantly from that mindset, the road to women in leadership and economic security is not over yet! It still has many bumps along the way which I have personally confronted on my own path.

What am I Made Of Graphic with Eyeglasses 

 in Yourself

I started out young in the event industry before completing my post-secondary education. I was often seen as unequal to my male and sometimes female clients and counterparts, though my knowledge and work outcomes were equivalent or more.  As a woman in any industry, it is very important to be confident in yourself and your capabilities to be able to overcome doubts and negativity.

What I have found helpful in situations where I feel underestimated or overlooked is using humour to diffuse the situation and having a good ‘comeback’ to stick up for myself.  There is always a “comeback”, something to be said, that can change the conversation or turn things around when going over bumps in the road.  One of my favourite comebacks was when I was told, “for a girl your age, you make great money” and I said, “but for someone in my position with such high results and experience, I’m underpaid”.  Having confidence in yourself, believing that you deserve what you are asking for, and being prepared to showcase why you deserve something will help you succeed.  In my example, it is unfortunate that the statement was ever made, especially because it was said by another woman.  A person should be evaluated based on skill and outcomes alone, not age or gender.

I reached out to other women in various industries and asked if they would share their stories and was shocked at how many stories of recent there were.  An entrepreneur who owns her own painting business has heard this more than once while painting on a ladder, “Is that a woman up there?!” …Um, yes, a skilled tradeswoman sir!  Or a friend, whose male co-worker speaks over her in meetings paraphrasing her reports. To that I would say, “excuse me eager beaver, I’m capable of reporting my own findings thank you!”

I know humour and ‘comebacks’ are more of a ‘band-aid’ for the bigger issue, but when you stick up for yourself and others, you’re making the wrong-doers and the bystanders aware and accountable.  In my initial example, after stating my case and receiving a taken aback expression, I was given acknowledgement and an apology.  I challenged the statement and invoked change.

Women 2

Throughout my career, there have been big and small instances where I have had to stand up for myself due to my age and/or gender but with practice, I have built confidence in myself to do so. One of my childhood mentors engrained it into my head to believe.  Believe in your skills, capabilities, ability to make tough decisions, and be prosperous make a difference when put in a situation where you need to advocate for yourself.  We will continue to pave the road in our workplaces and elsewhere so long as we continue to speak up and speak out rather than settle and look the other way.  I agree with when they say, “a challenged world is an alert world”.  So, I challenge you to be part of the collective that chooses to call out bias and challenge people with your comebacks!

Book recommendation: Comebacks at Work: Using Conversation to Master Confrontation

About the Author:
Shaina Turgeon, CMP
Owner / Director of Events
Gemstone Event Management Inc.



Shaina Turgeon, CMP | Published by MPI Toronto Chapter

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