International Women’s Day Interviews

Yesterday, for International Women’s Day, I spoke with two of my friends, one who identified as a woman and one who identified as a man, and how women have impacted their lives and how their gender informed their identity as a whole. I have changed their names for this article.

Me: Who are you celebrating this International Women’s Day?

Maria: I love International Women’s Day. I love the vibe on campus today. So many people have wish me a happy women’s day like today is my birthday! Today, I’m celebrating myself, the female role models in my life that have shaped who I am today. I truly believe in the saying “Behind every strong woman, there is another strong woman.” I am supported by not one strong woman, but a dozen. Without them, I would have never been able to get into Harvard and to work on the diversity project I am working on now. There is something so amazing about female bonds and friendships!

Jacob: I have never really celebrated International Women’s Day before, but I had a conversation with a friend recently about why today is so important. I really want to celebrate Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez today. She is so inspiring, and she has done amazing work in such a short period of time. She faces a lot of criticism and is under the spotlight all the time, but she thrives in her work. I also want to celebrate my female friends today. Having so many female friends for the first time in my life has opened my eyes to how strong women are.

Me: Maria, how has identifying as a woman informed your identity as a whole? And Jacob, how has your gender identity informed your identity as a whole?

Maria: I think I felt a lot of pressures growing up. I was raised in a conservative environment, so gender roles were very heavily ingrained into my identity. Coming to Harvard has changed a lot of that for me though. I have sought out more opportunities to explore my gender identity here. Being a woman has influenced many of my decisions in life, and at Harvard I’ve been given the opportunity to have more open and safe conversations about how my gender has influenced those decisions.

Jacob: I don’t have many of the experiences that women have had, so for much of my life I was unaware of many cultural and societal issues surrounding gender. I’ve never had to be afraid while walking alone at night, and no one has ever questioned my authority because of my gender. Spending more time with women at Harvard, however, has really opened my eyes to many of these issues. I’ve realized that I have had a lot of privilege that my female counterparts have not had. I really want to spend today and many more days talking about the gender inequalities that still plague our country.