On September 8, 2008, three women had a vision and changed the face of the localization world for good. They started Women in Localization, a small local networking group that would become an international organization with 4,000+ members with chapters in 11 countries and counting.
That success is not the astonishing part of the story. It is most outstanding that they did it without funding. There are no membership dues, no government grants. No one has a membership card or number. To become a member, women localizers join a LinkedIn group and follow it on local social media platforms. There are only two requirements to join: You must be a woman, and you must work in a localization-related field.
How did Women in Localization (WL) become one of the largest professional organizations in its industry with limited structure and resources?
The answer lies in one concept: Contribution
In 2008, three women wanted to be heard, they wanted to sit at the decision-making table and they believed they deserved the same compensation for their work as men. They were also up against the global financial crisis of 2008/9 and funding to go global was hard to come by.
Against this backdrop, the founders, Anna N Schlegel, Eva Klaudinyova, and Silvia Avary-Silveira, did something so simple and ingenious that it would rock the male paradigm of business in localization. They connected their small group with two emotional forces: A need to avoid the pain of being disadvantaged and the desire to contribute.
They created a forum in which professional female localizers network to share their stories, learn, provide innovative content, mentor and peer-coach each other. In other words, they contributed to a shared solution rather than dwelling on the problem.
This is the main lesson from Women In Localization. What we choose to focus on determines how we feel. When we are focused on contribution, we experience that there is always a way, always interaction, a commitment that defines us as rare and extraordinary individuals. Contribution creates a spiritual bond and requires us to go beyond our own needs.
Contribution is the fuel that three leaders from the Silicon Valley used to inspire the sisterhood across the world. Being at one of their events just makes you feel better.
It’s not about making more money
It’s not about making more money, receiving more recognition, or gaining more power. It’s about ensuring balance in life, having fun, being loved and respected, and growing professionally and spiritually. It’s about the fulfillment that friendship, collaboration and growth can bring.
When employers and communities do not allow women the same means to make a living and the same avenues for a rewarding career, they feel constricted. To this day, managers advise women to change employers if they want the same salary or the same path to advancement as their male counterparts. Their very own institutions do not give managers the tools to adjust wages radically enough. It seems like a taboo topic, or an incredibly long and winded road to follow.
There is still work to do. Anna, Eva, and Silvia continue to ask themselves: “What is good for our members? What do we need? What can we do today to provide for our the future?” They go where others fall short, and they consistently link their actions to something bigger and higher than themselves, in the name of WL’s members.
Today, more than 4,000 women across the US, Argentina, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Catalunya, the Netherlands, Poland, China, Japan and South Korea keep on elevating each other into leadership positions and local chapters. They educate, train, mentor and coach thousands of their peers in local events across the globe. The wait list for new chapters is long. However, the Board aims to grow methodically and with a solid foundation.
Action, when contributing to a community or a shared purpose, produces incredible results. Women in Localization have just begun. Happy 10th Anniversary!
How to join Women in Localization (members only)
How to follow Women in Localization (public)
· Web: www.womeninlocalization.com
· Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WomenInL10N/
· Twitter: https://twitter.com/WomenInL10N
· WeChat (China only): WomeninLocalization
Members and non-members both can sign up for WL events on Eventbrite depending on their location and availability of local chapter.