Woman smiles at camera while holding cup of tea

Gender in the Workplace

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By Natalie Pusta

Naomi Forgaciu is a project manager at WABCO. She spends most of her time leading various projects at a predominantly male company and tackles being a full-time student at Oakland University.

Who are the people who have most influenced your life and how have they affected you?

Woman smiles at camera while holding cup of tea
Naomi Forgaciu enjoys a cup of tea at her favorite study spot in downtown Rochester, Michigan, on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. Photo credit: Natalie Pusta.

One of the first project managers I worked with sort of gave me a project to lead on my own and acted as my mentor. It began with just work things and the projects, but soon it spiraled into my career as a whole. He just has so much experience in the business world and as a project manager, but he also helped me learn how to really work with and understand people better.

Do you think this translated into other aspects of your life outside of work?

Yes, for sure. When he changed my perspective, it translated into my personal relationships with family, friends, and even the church I’m involved with. It transitioned from a career perspective to a personal perspective.

What is inclusion to you? What is diversity to you?

I would say inclusion is based on embracing people’s differences and allowing those differences, perspectives, and thought processes to present themselves in the best way to make conducive environments. Diversity is having people from different cultures and backgrounds being a part of the group.

Do you think these go hand-in-hand?

Oh, they definitely should, but you don’t always see it. Sometimes companies might have diversity, but they’ll lack the inclusion aspect.

How have you, personally, overcome a bias that you have faced?

My perspective has really changed working in a predominantly male field. You just start to realize that some people don’t really appreciate your presence because of your gender. Or they may want me there just for my presence and not the ideas that I’m bringing to the table.

Sometimes it’s not even my gender, but my age that’s the problem. I’m relatively young for the job I’m currently at, even in my project group that I work with directly. I mean, don’t get me wrong, not everyone is like that. There are just certain situations where I can actually feel people not taking me seriously. It’s just really important to not have a bias yourself, to not go into meetings or projects automatically thinking that. If you’re thinking from the get go, “Oh, they think of me this way” or “They won’t respect me because I’m younger than them,” it’ll be hard to work with others.

Where do you feel comfortable/ safe in expressing your identity on OU’s campus?

I’m actually minoring in Spanish, so the Spanish class I’m currently taking is really small; because of that, it’s super informal and relaxed. As long as we’re speaking in Spanish we can talk about anything. It honestly feels like a club because we’re a tight knit group. We’re really just meeting up in this class and getting to know each other, I’ve become really comfortable with them and it’s just a casual environment where you can really just open up.

If you could change or improve one thing in the world, what would it be?

For people to approach every person and situation with a higher degree of understanding, and to just have the desire to see where another person is coming from. Sometimes people’s minds are so made up that they refuse to even try and understand another person’s situation.

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