More women are breaking the stereotypes they have been moulded in by society and one of such women is Nigeria’s Itunu Hotonu.
Itunu Hotonu is Nigeria and Africa’s first female admiral who made some bold statements at the recently concluded “Women Rising: Transforming Leadership,” at the 2016 WISCAR Annual Mentorship and Leadership Event.
Admiral Hotonu made up her mind to become an architect when she was just 13. She added that despite being the only girl in class most of the time, she remained undaunted and unintimidated.
“As a woman, you already come from a position of disadvantage not because you are disadvantaged but society chooses to decide that you are disadvantaged, they forget that IQ has no gender. All through my career, I always found myself in a room full of men. I was always told I had to be in the kitchen.”
Despite the obstacle society poses to women, admiral Hotonu maintains that women who want to make an impact or take up a leadership position must remain brave and be ready to make the right sacrifices.
Admiral Itunu noted that while in the navy, she was constantly mocked and criticised for being the only female and even the youngest among the men, still she held her chin up and refused to be bothered by their remarks.
She also emphasised the importance of her husband’s support in helping her get to where she is.
“I am Africa’s first female admiral today because my husband let me be. He said if you are not happy, I can’t be happy. He didn’t feel threatened by my success. The important thing is that he didn’t want an angry wife in the house.”
On being a working mother she advises mothers to communicate with their kids like adults, ensuring them that her success at work is also their own success.
There’s always the stigma attached to successful women which imply that they have to give their goods in order to climb up the success ladder. While admiral Itunu Hotonu does not deny the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, she urges women who find themselves in similar situations to establish who they are at the beginning.
“If you compromise at the beginning, it’s going to be difficult to stop compromising. To the glory of God, throughout my thirty years in the navy, not once did I lobby for an assignment.”