Dr Laila Proença offers advice for overcoming challenges women often face in the workplace
In a dvm360® interview at the 2023 American Veterinary Medical Association Convention, Laila Proença, DVM, PhD, MV, MSc, DACZM, CEO and founder of VetAhead, shared that being called "difficult" is something that had followed throughout her life.
Once she recognized the importance of questioning things in the workplace, such as being called difficult, she found she could either come to a solution or if she was provided no answer, find a new environment where she felt valued. Whether it's being deemed difficult or another challenge women often face in the workplace, Proença emphasizes the power of questioning.
The following is a partial transcript of the video.
Laila Proença, DVM, PhD, MV, MSc, DACZM: The word "difficult" kind of chases me throughout my life. And for a long time, I did believe I was difficult. And I believe that it is a challenge that a lot of us live. You need to decide to live your true self and understand what that word means and understand how it's very improperly used and understand what people are trying to say. It takes a lot of intellect to deal with intellect, it takes a lot of effort to deal with a person that puts a lot of effort in.
It's difficult for people sometimes to understand what we bring to the table and understand we are all on the same team. People tend to really refuse change and refuse things they don't understand. And a woman behaving like a man is something they definitely don't understand. And I think it is a choice we need to make when we face these challenges. We either shrink to fit, which is not my favorite. But, we end up doing it a lot of times, and I've done it, we do it without notice. We are kind of trained to do that throughout our lives, some more than others.
Or, we decide to understand where everybody's coming from, understand that they cannot dictate who we are. Nobody can tell us who we are and how we behave. And it's a lot of introspect. It is a process, you're not going to change much in your life just because you heard me speaking, but I hope with [my] talks, we start questioning things instead of just accepting them. And then once you question them, I think that's what I would recommend you doing when you face challenges. Just question things, see what is in your control that you can change and see what's not in your control. You might want to remove yourself from that situation, or you might want to face it in a different light or a different way. So, again, it's all about being aware and questioning what's happening around you or to you.