Interview: Alana S. Perez

Claudia Vera, Co-Copy Editor

Have you experienced any challenges in the workplace due to your gender? 

Not recently, but it should come as no surprise that there were challenges, many challenges encountered entering the workplace in 1971 after receiving my master’s degree. We, as women, have come a long way, but still have many challenges ahead.

 If you have experienced challenges, what did you do to overcome them?

Many of the challenges I faced were not so easily overcome.  Back then, equal pay was even more of a problem than it is today—and it is still a problem today.  Certain job titles were less accepting of women, and sexual harassment was far more prevalent.  What we did back then was simply to work harder, work smarter and be better.  If our job performance was impossible to overlook, we were more likely to get the next promotion, or perhaps a better raise.  Ultimately, the path I took was to go into sales, where you could control your income destiny. However, compared to other places in the world—in America, though things are far from perfect, women for the most part, have opportunities not available to many women in other cultures.  I consider myself very lucky.

Do you believe that gender plays a part in the treatment of those in business? If so, how?

At times, probably yes, it still does.  But in the last decade, I have been in more responsible positions, and positions that have been far more accepting of women in executive roles.  I will celebrate the day the US elects a women president.  There are many out there that are very capable.

What does female empowerment mean to you? 

I’m sure what it means to most…equality for women socially, economically and politically.  It is the right to equal education and employment as well.

What would be one thing you would say to a girl who wanted to pursue a job in your field? 

Go for it!  Whatever you would want in life, follow your heart—and reach for the stars…what my mentors told me decades ago.

What do you do to empower young girls in your community? 

I enjoy spending time with kids (girls and boys) who visit the gardens, who participate in our classes or camps or field trips.  I try to do my best to inspire, to motivate, and to help them appreciate the horticulture beauty at the gardens and the cultural and historical aspects of what Pinecrest Gardens represents.  If I could serve as a role model in any way and make an impression on just one life to aspire to something greater—I would feel that something special was accomplished.  My mother was my greatest inspiration; she made me see the world in a very special way.