Marisa Mendosa, Co-Art Director
31st March, 2021
The Arcata High Women’s Advocacy Club partnered with the McKinleyville and Eureka High Schools’ Clubs to put together a panel of local women from a wide variety of careers who are current and former members of our community to speak in celebration of National Women’s Month on Friday, March 12.
Moderated by Mina Abbassi, Alysa Cringle, and Klayre Barres, the presidents of the Arcata, McKinleyville, and Eureka clubs respectively, the panel delved into the topics of female empowerment, sexism in the workplace, and advice for the future.
One of the best pieces of advice the women gave was centered around “finding your tribe.” The panelists spoke about how crucial it is to find deep and real relationships that can help carry you through darker times. Whether in college or a future workplace, finding a support system and ways to cope with difficulties is a vital life skill.
Katt Brown, a Master Chief Aviation Maintenance Technician with the U.S. Coast Guard, was one of the panelists and spoke about her support system. For Brown, the camaraderie was one of the most important and favorite aspects of being in the military. They would be training and working on the job together, so finding that sense of camaraderie was essential, yet rewarding. “I have not had a single regret in joining the Coast Guard,” Brown stated.
Being born into a military family, Brown didn’t want to play “war games,” but she wanted to help with the humanitarian aspect of the military. “I think that’s my favorite part,” she said. “Being able to emerge myself into the communities we’ve been assigned to.”
One piece of advice Brown would give to young women is to learn to accept failure. “It is an opportunity to see what didn’t work, and to see a way to make it work,” she explained.
Another speaker was the recently elected Arcata City Councilor, Emily Goldstein. Something Goldstein learned to deal with during her recent election was sexism. “I discovered a whole new world of sexism, running for public office.” Goldstein explained how with the life experience she had at the time, ignoring sexist comments was the best way for her to go about it.
Sexism is not uncommon in the workplace. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, 42% of women reported experiencing discrimination on the basis of their gender. Women have experienced discrimination ranging from unequal pay to receiving unwanted advances or sexual harassment.
While Brown had found that turning around sexist comments to question the person about why they said what they said helped address sexist behavior, Goldstein was still figuring things out and decided that refusing to look at the comment section of posts and articles was the best way to cope. “You deserve to cope, whatever way is best for you to cope,” she said.
Being younger, Goldstein feels more connected to the youth in the community and the perspectives they bring to the table. “I think that young people are often the most progressive, leading the change in our society,” she said. “Being a little bit younger allows me to stay really connected to that.”
The new city councilor is inspired by young people who have been pushing for change. “I really like coming in with this fresh perspective.”
Amber Reiners was very familiar with starting new jobs. While presently being the owner of Eureka’s Stonesthrow Boutique, Reiners went to college in Minneapolis and became a teacher before moving to Humboldt County and starting her own business. As a business owner, she has learned the importance of multitasking with multiple responsibilities including customer service, making sales, emailing, and leadership skills.
The pandemic was a recent challenge that her business faced. She had to close her doors and begin making deliveries to deal with the changing situations. “Being able to adapt and go with the flow is one of the most important things to help you succeed in business,” Reiners explained.
COVID-19 most significantly impacted Elizabeth Harvey, another panelist, and a labor and delivery nurse at Saint Joseph’s Hospital. She spoke about the “pre-traumatic stress response” that many people in the medical field experienced in the initial months, watching the pandemic news unfold internationally. She realized that as a nurse, her reality could potentially become just like the realities of other nurses in other parts of the world. She would watch YouTube videos on how to use a ventilator, just preparing for the worst-case scenarios that were becoming true for so many others.
Although setting boundaries was especially difficult amidst the stress of being a nurse during a pandemic, Harvey stressed the importance of self-advocacy for women. Something she wished she had known growing up would’ve been learning to say no sometimes. “You don’t have to do everything, and you don’t have to please everyone,” Harvey said. She explained how learning to advocate for yourself is an important skill in the workplace.
Though not only useful in the workplace, learning to advocate for yourself is a skill that is transferable into many aspects of life. An example of this is right in Laura Middlemiss’s area of expertise, financial independence. As a financial advisor with Edward Jones as well as being a member of the Humboldt Bay Soroptimist Club, Middlemiss spoke on the importance of this issue.
“Know your worth and establish your independence early,” she said. “Don’t assume that some other circumstances will come along.”
The panel greatly inspired many of the participants. “I really enjoyed learning about how women launched their careers and what to expect in the professional job world,” senior Maddie Lankarani, and participant of the panel said. “It was overall a great experience to be able to learn from such a broad variety of women and their success. All of them work in different fields and it was great to listen to their stories.” As Goldstein said, “Believ[e] what you have to say matters, and realiz[e] that your voice is worthy.”