Women in County Government (WICG) Holds End-of-Summer Event: Empowerment
By Austyn Lee, Office of Diversity and Equity Summer Intern
On Tuesday, August 8th, the County of San Mateo’s Women in County Government (WICG) hosted an end-of-summer event called Empowerment at 555 Marshall Street in Redwood City.
WICG was initially founded in 1985 to help women develop professionally for managerial roles in the county. The goal of WICG is to increase efficiency and job satisfaction of women in all levels in the county and promote a workplace culture that values diversity and respect for people of all backgrounds. The Empowerment event was crafted around this goal by inspiring us to lift each other up and help each other get to where we want to be in life.
Felicia Flores and fellow members of the San Mateo County Human Resources Department led meditation, wellness, and empowerment exercises such as power poses and positive affirmations. Power poses involve standing or sitting in a particular way, usually open and strong, that communicate authority and confidence. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy found that holding these power poses for two minutes or more can increase testosterone levels and decrease the stress hormone cortisol, improving mood and increasing confidence levels.
Positive affirmations are short verbal phrases of positivity that counteract negative thoughts. Examples are “I am excellent at what I do,” “Even when life gets rough, I am at peace,” and the famous one popularized by psychologist Émile Coué who first introduced these affirmations in his therapy, “Every day and in every way, I am getting better and better.” You can try using positive affirmations by looking into a mirror and repeating them aloud in a clear, convincing voice multiple times a day. Repeating this practice can rewire negative thoughts into positive ones and help you commit to making life changes.
Keynote speaker Nicole “Nikki” Manina then shared her inspiring life story of overcoming personal struggles and taking control of her life for herself and her young daughter. She pursued her passion for writing by studying English at Notre Dame de Namur University, where she published pieces in their literary magazine The Bohemian. Nicole expressed her deep gratitude for her close friends and family who supported her during the toughest of times, highlighting the importance of supporting others through times of struggle and resilience.
In order to celebrate accomplished women who have overcome personal and professional barriers, Empowerment featured a pop-up photo gallery of county employees and their words of wisdom for younger generations. Another wall displayed inspiring quotes from famous women throughout history. Attendees also enjoyed taking Instagram-worthy photos at the event’s “Better than Barbie” and Rosie the Riveter cut out photo booths using the social media hashtag #WICGEmpower.
Empowerment concluded with some delicious, homemade banana-based ice cream in various flavors. Dairy-free, fat-free, gluten-free, vegan, paleo, raw, and with no heavy cream or added sugars, the banana ice cream demonstrated WICG’s intentionality of being inclusive of the most number of dietary choices and restrictions at the event.
Daniella Flores, Graphics Associate at the San Mateo County HR Department, is credited with conceptualizing and flawlessly executing the event.
Those who attended the event left feeling inspired and empowered by WICG and the county’s commitment to wellness and lifting up the voices of women and other marginalized communities. Wellness and empowerment events like this serve as reminders that it’s on all of us to take care of ourselves so that we may serve and uplift our coworkers, clients, and communities to the best of our abilities.
For more information about WICG, visit https://smcwicg.wordpress.com/.
For more information about Amy Cuddy’s power poses, visit: https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.
Hillary Chu, and Mai Le, Siavash Zohoori, contributed to this article.