Today, the world comes together to celebrate International Women's Day. Why? Well, how long have you got...
For a start, the movement dates back as far as the early 1900s, gaining attention both in the United States and across Europe. Clara Zetkin (a communist activist and women's rights advocate) was one of many incredible women who spent much of her life vigorously campaigning for better pay for women and the right to vote. For years following, different nations began recognising the importance of the movement and by 1975 it was made official when the United Nations agreed on formal annual celebrations.
The theme of this year, Embrace Equity, is a particularly powerful message. Often, we focus so heavily on equal opportunities for everyone that we forget that people start from different places, have different circumstances, and have differing access to support and resources. Equality doesn't necessarily lead directly to fairness. In truth, to reach an equal and fair outcome, we need to get better at appreciating everyone has diverse lived experiences and we need to ensure we have adaptive services, policies and solutions that accommodate for everyone's differences.
When it comes to technology, it comes as no surprise that women are still significantly underrepresented. This can be seen from all angles, from tech education and access to STEM roles to women in leadership and huge salary disparities across the board.
Here at Passle, we are acutely aware that we work in a heavily male-dominated industry and recognise that there is so much more than needs to be done to pave the way for gender equality, equitable opportunity and inclusion across the industry.
In celebration of IWD 2023, we spoke to colleagues across the Passle team to learn about their experiences. From stepping into their careers to hurdles they’ve encountered, we’re proud to share a collection of their insights…
What was your journey into your role?
- "I was always interested in working in the IT industry, but I found it very challenging and scary to enter this sector without any female role models to look up to.”
- "My main hurdle is 'imposter syndrome' and lack of confidence in my abilities - I feel like my career just fell into my lap due to circumstance rather than my actual experience and fears that I will be exposed or found out occur almost daily. I do know imposter syndrome is higher in women, and especially in STEM roles, this can be because of lack of representation and women's pressure to be perfect in all aspects of their lives"
- "I’d say I definitely have experienced difficulty in getting my voice heard when in a room with much louder colleagues which can so commonly be misconstrued as being shy or having a lack of things to contribute. That was always tough to deal with. I’m well aware that I’ll never be the loudest voice in the room, but I’ve navigated that by finding my own ways to communicate and get myself heard"
Can you share your experience as a women at the start of your journey?
- "I found I could tell a lot about a firm walking into their office. As a woman starting her career I found certain firms definitely valued a level of ‘comradery’, and honestly this was always between male colleagues. In one of my first jobs, this (amongst other things) did ultimately lead to me leaving the role as I felt no opportunities for growth as someone outside the 'clique'. My best advice: if something feels wrong in the interview, that likely won’t change when you’re in the job"
- "Quite often if I visited a client with a male colleague, the client assumed my colleague would be leading the meeting rather than myself. I felt like I had to make much more of an effort than my male colleagues to make myself heard and be respected. As I have matured in my role, this now comes naturally and is easier to do but it is something I really struggled with at the start. I almost felt invisible"
- "I got lucky early on in my first role, working alongside some very strong women who were so instrumental in my career and personal development. I also worked alongside some fantastic male colleagues, who equally played their part, recognising my strengths and giving me the space and encouragement to use them"
What can be done to empower more women to join STEM roles?
- "Fundamentally, helping women learn both what they enjoy and are good at, then when and how these can be developed into career skills. Promoting role models i.e. those of us in the sorts of jobs which young women may aspire to achieve as well as mentoring those who are still in academic settings/embarking upon their careers, thus aiding them to deftly navigate their early career path"
- "I think there has to be more education in schools and universities around the different roles in STEM. It is important to show the variety STEM roles offer and the need for a diverse skill range."
- "More flexible work environments and policy changes - a lot of woman are still the primary caregivers when starting a family and find they take a step back after re-joining the workforce due to work/life balance. Creating more flexible working, pay equity and fair parental leave can make STEM careers more accessible and appealing to women"
What's your advice for women entering an industry that is predominantly male?
- "My advice would be to not assume that because an industry is male dominated that it is full of prejudice. A lot of STEM firms want to recruit more women and support their growth through the business. Be one of those women, get stuck in and don't let anyone deter you from what you want to do and are good at. Then when you are in a STEM role, support other women in STEM and be a role model for the women wanting to enter the industry. "
- "Encourage women to focus on their strengths and contributions, and to seek out mentors and allies who can support their growth and development. Additionally, advocating for gender diversity and inclusivity in the workplace can help create a more welcoming and equitable environment for all employees. By staying focused, confident, and supportive of one another, women can succeed and thrive in any industry they choose."
- "Feelings of insecurity and fear are absolutely normal, but believe in yourself. At first it might be hard to be the only woman in a group of men, but your opinions are equally important and valid, so stay confident and assertive. It will be worth it!"
- "Believe in your capabilities. You are just as impactful, knowledgeable, and ultimately successful as your male counterparts. Entering an environment that is very male-dominated, you can feel certain pressures at first but just stand your ground and bring your authentic self to the role"
- "Don't let anyone undermine your confidence. Educate yourself and stay informed about the industry and trends, helps you build confidence and knowledge. Find a mentor, having someone to advocate and offer guidance from their own experience"
- "Imposter syndrome can haunt us all, but never forget that you’ve been hired for a reason, and you’re more than qualified and trusted to do that role."
We have also spoken with women across professional services marketing to learn about their personal experiences. We were amazed by the response and have launched a new podcast, CMO Series Represents, as a platform to amplify the voices of women in the industry and professionals from underrepresented communities. Please do take a listen to hear some really interesting and inspiring accounts. Check out the link below ...