By: Carolyn Hyman
Photo Credit: Su Shin
Su Shin, President and General Manager of Hawaiian Telcom and Aloha United Way Board Member shared a few memories with us in honor of Women’s History month. She is one of the many women with AUW who works to inspire, support and engage our community, but her story is her own. . .
Su Shin’s father passed away when she was 5 and her brother was 8. So, from very early, her mother was a single parent. “My mom made the decision to leave Korea and move to Hawaii, leaving behind family, friends, and all she had known. I know it was a struggle, in every possible way.” This was no free-fall into despair, though. Shin goes on to explain that while they were barely scraping by, her mother always had enough to share with others. “I always remember my mom helping others, feeding our neighbor’s kids at Mayor Wrights, providing temporary housing for a young single mother, the list goes on and on.”
This selfless dedication and humble strength was the primary influence on Shin. She credits herself for having such a positive role model. Her mother also emphasized education and hard work. When she was passed over for a promotion in her early career as a journalist, another woman stepped forward to provide sound guidance and advice. “Don’t wait for the opportunity, create the opportunity.” The more experienced journalist went on to explain that Shin needed to be more assertive and bold in order to advance and be recognized. “That was the single best advice I’ve ever received”, said Shin.
When we asked the President and General Manager of Hawaiian Telcom to share her thoughts on how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced women in the workplace, she became incredibly thoughtful. “I have two daughters. This is going to influence my answer. While we’ve made progress on gender equality, we clearly need to do more. I think we can learn from this experience and implement gender responsive interventions, like ensuring that women and children who are at risk of violence in their homes are adequately provided for and protected. A longer term solution is to create better access to quality childcare and more opportunities for women in a wide range of careers, not just in industries like restaurants and tourism, where women are overrepresented, industries where jobs have been decimated by pandemic lockdowns. The bottom line is that women should be able to choose to work or be a caregiver, or both.”
We have our work cut out for us, but there are strong women on the job. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s important to recognize all the women who have helped shape our lives by doing what was hard, what was right, and what was necessary. It’s important to recognize our mothers and daughters, our mentors and our friends.