There it was, in black and white.
As part of an experiment, I had let Cambridge university algorithm to analyse my gender and personality based on my behaviour, likes and digital footprint on social channels.
Apparently, I was “a perfection of masculinity”
I dove into the analysis results highly amused, curious to see what exactly made me “such a bloke”
I’m a big fan of beer, fast cars and I hate cleaning. Funny!
I’m a keynote speaker, stand-up comedian and a global manager in B2B. I do agile. I attend automotive, technology, government and B2B events across the world.
Is being a minority inspirational?
When I started blogging and speaking, people contacted me on social channels saying how amazing it was to see someone strong representing women in the tech industry. That I was a role model.
I was honoured and delighted, yet I had never actually seen myself as an inspiration for other women or minorities. Mainly because I have never seen being a woman and a foreigner as a disadvantage.
It makes you more resilient. More creative. It makes you stand out.
The problem is … the people who think it is.
Top 3 misconceptions I had about being a woman in tech and my career path
I’m no saint. I myself have had misconceptions what comes to my career path, diversity and making a real difference in the world. As a part of my failure challenge, I’ll share with you the top three and the insights I learned from them – I hope it’ll make you see things from a different perspective.
1. I owe my success only to myself
I never considered it as “the men’s world” nor myself a victim. I’ve worked hard to overcome obstacles and carved my own path. I did it all by myself.
Really? Is that true?
What I’ve seen during the years working in technology, B2B and automotive industries, people don’t hire you always because you’re the best one for the job.
They only hire you if they also see beyond the bias.
I’m very grateful for the people who saw beyond me being a millennial, woman and an immigrant. Who focused on my achievements and potential, not what I looked like or where I was from.
This is why investing only in education is not enough. To make a real difference in the world, we need to change the mindset of people recruiting, hiring and managing the workforce – especially the middle-management.
Usually top and bottom understand each other, but it’s the middle who thrives in the old management style, has strong bias and blocks the career advancement of people not fitting in the mould.
2. My integrity doesn’t let me to work at companies and industries with strong gender imbalance
In the beginning of my career, I used to tell people that out of principle I was not even applying for companies nor industries with high perceived inequality. But you know what? It wasn’t integrity.I
It was a fear of toxic environment. A fear of failing. A fear of not belonging.
And I wasn’t alone. 40% of the female engineering students leave the field or never enter it at all. Statistics for technology and science are not better either. Most of them do it, because they feel alone, don’t identify with anyone and have no one to relate to.
Don’t you think it’s our responsibility to go where we really need to make a difference?
We have far too few women representing tech sector publicly. It’s not enough to participate “women only” events, but to really change the industry, women need to be also in male-dominated events to show that we belong on stage and to the tech panels.
That we have a voice.
By avoiding industries and events with high inequality, we are creating even a bigger problem by leaving people to fight their battle alone without role models and support. It’s stopping us opening a constructive conversation: men are not the enemy.
If you really believe in equality, step up and lead by an example in industries where it’s needed. Create and support diversity initiatives even if you don’t belong to a minority.
Speak up 🙂
3. If I join a minority association or a group, it’s a sign of weakness. I want no pity points.
I used to think that belonging to a female or minority association made me look weak. It wasn’t something a strong career woman would do: it was like admitting I wasn’t able to do it myself.
That I needed help.
People spoke about the power of network and how other women could support you and get you opportunities, but in my head I put down the breaks. I did not want to have a job, because I was a woman. I wanted to have it, because I was the best.
Sigh… I saw it in a completely wrong way.
First of all, asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of, but that’s not what the associations are only for. They are for you to speak with people you can relate to, to share your experiences, to learn from each other, and to work together for a common goal to make a real difference.
So, start changing the world with three simple steps:
- Search for an association or group related to topic you care about in LinkedIn, Google or your company Intranet
- Join it
- Write a message to say hello, why the topic matters to you and ask how you could contribute/help?
Not only will you get a positive response, but you’re taking the first steps towards a bigger purpose.
You know how people who time travel in movies are always afraid, that the smallest things they do can change the course of the future?
Why do we, who live in the PRESENT, never believe that smallest things we do NOW can have a huge impact in the future?
If you have a personal story, be brave to share it, however painful it might be. There’s someone out there who’s struggling, feeling hopeless and having similar challenges you had.
Your example might change the course of their future.
Let’s make a difference together
Despite being absolutely terrified of public speaking five years ago, I overcame the fear to create a positive impact in B2B and tech events. I’ve been a jury member, panellist, moderator and keynote speaker in over 20 International conferences in 12 different countries.
Isn’t that great? Yes and no.
What I realised while writing this article was that I’ve been so focused on changing perception of women and inspiring other female attendees to get on stage in male-dominated events, that I forgot how important it is to actually reach the women who don’t have the confidence to attend this type of events in the first place.
That was a mistake.
Therefore, if you’d like me to speak in your female association / event, would like to run a workshop for women or know someone who’s struggling with above, do contact me.
I don’t know about you, but if what I write or say has a positive impact in even ONE PERSON’s life in the next 10 months …
2019 was a great year.
Best of luck x
Ps. If you found this helpful in anyway, please do like this or share your thoughts in comments Would really appreciate it!
[This is part of my challenge to share one personal failure per week to help you see you’re not alone: we all fail. I hope this will help you to get unstuck and succeed in life ]