March is Women’s History Month, and today, March 8, marks International Women’s Day.
Both occasions represent a time to celebrate the pivotal, and too often overlooked, role women have played throughout our history in the United States and around the world.
To celebrate International Women’s day, we talked to six Sunrise Banks women to get their take on the state of gender equity, important women in their lives and their thoughts on Women’s History Month.
Here’s what they had to say.
What Does Women’s History Month Mean to You?
All of our respondents emphasized the importance of celebrating women’s history and the need for greater opportunities and rights for women around the world.
“It is important to celebrate Women’s History Month because we are the pillar, the rock, the spine of our families,” said Sunrise Banks Mortgage Loan Officer Andrea Altamirano. “We are the nurses, psychologists, cooks, playmates; we protect our babies from monsters under the bed, we sing, we tell fairytales. We are a million little things in one body.”
Chris Albrecht, Sunrise’s senior vice president and SBA manager, is happy to celebrate Women’s History month, but wishes gender equity made the occasion unnecessary.
“It seems so silly that in this day and age we would have to officially recognize women. We’ve been here a long time. The importance comes in that we still need a reminder that there are inequalities that need to be erased,” she said.
How Can We Remedy Issues of Gender Inequality?
Marginalized groups in the U.S. have made incredible progress throughout history, but it’s clear that racism, sexism and general xenophobia still exist today. All six women discussed the need for continued progress to create a gender-equitable society.
“The universal recognition of the unassailable, unlimited dignity of every human person is the common ground from which human rights are recognized,” said Mary Stoick, vice president of New Markets Tax Credits lending at Sunrise. “This needs to be a fundamental value in our families, our workplaces, our neighborhoods, our cities, our country and our world.”
Chief Risk Officer Amanda Swoverland emphasized the need for both men and women to be involved in the process of advancing women’s rights.
“Both men and women need to be at the table for this conversation. There are a lot of amazing men out there who can work with women to start changing this narrative,” said Swoverland. “Women can’t be afraid to ask for more, but men need to support that. I’ve been blessed to have many male and female colleagues support me throughout my career. It is the collaboration and honest conversations that make a difference.”
Who Is the Most Important Woman in Your Life?
The women we look up to don’t need to be famous. In fact, all of the Sunrise employees we talked to said the most influential women in their lives were family members.
“The most influential woman in my life is my mom. She showed me that you can be successful in a career and also focus on your family,” said Sunrise Chief Operations Officer Melodie Carlson. “My mom, sisters and I are all close — in large part because of my mom’s influence. Once I became a mom, I realized how hard her situation must have been and am grateful for all the sacrifices she made.”
Chief Brand Officer Becca Hoeft also cited her mother when asked about a woman she looks up to most.
“My mom is the most influential woman in my life. As a stay-at-home mom she raised five kids with nearly a twenty-year span in age difference,” said Hoeft. “She worked tirelessly as my father’s bookkeeper for his small business, but she always made time for me. Giving up a four-year art scholarship to raise a family, she taught me to work hard, hold your values dear and reach for the moon.”
See a list of International Women’s Day events here.