“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” Gloria Steinem
Sunday 8th March is International Women’s Day, a dedicated organisation celebrating the social, economic and cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual, which takes action to forge a gender-equal world.
We want to join the conversation and help raise awareness against bias by hearing from some of the female employees at Yard about what it’s like being a woman working in digital.
What advice would you give to a woman looking to enter the industry?
E: It’s normal to feel imposter syndrome, especially in your first role, but digital is always changing and that makes for a supportive industry full of people who are happy to share knowledge and insights. So, don’t let a lack of confidence stop you from trying something new because the experience will come!
G: Don’t be afraid of failure – get stuck in and try things. That’s what life is all about and it’s all character building! I tried a few different career paths before I moved into digital, and it’s all helped in some way to get me where I am today. And, never stop learning – gain as much knowledge and experience as you can! That could be work experience and internships, trying out different jobs and roles to see what interests you, attending industry events and keeping up to date with industry blogs and thought leaders.
S: Follow your passions and believe in yourself! I remember being told I’d never get a ‘real job’ with a degree in Photography – and here I am. You don’t have to study marketing to get into digital – there is so much scope and variety in the industry that you can come from pretty much any background. Apply your unique skill set to any task you are set.
Is there a woman in the industry who has inspired you?
K: When I think of tech, I always think of Marissa Mayer, the ex CEO of Yahoo! who returned to work after just a few weeks of maternity leave. Since then, I’ve experienced maternity leave and don’t think I could have done what she did, but more power to her. It was the right thing for her to do and that’s what matters most.
There was lots of commentary around her returning to work too soon, not being a good role model for other female staff (despite Yahoo having a mat leave policy) and claims that she’d done it because of the pressurised role she was in. If she was a man, there would’ve been no discussion. My hope is equality improves but we can continue to celebrate women who challenge gender roles.
J: I’m super inspired by Gretta van Riel, founder of 5 startups and listed in Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2018. Gretta founded her first startup, SkinnyMe Tea (SMT), at the age of 22 with only $24 in the bank. It went on to be a global success winning the Shopify Build-A-Business competition in 2013.
More recently, Gretta has shifted her focus from eComm to tech. Leveraging her extensive knowledge of the influencer marketing landscape as both a brand and an influence, she launched her Influencer Marketing platform − Hey Influencers.
She’s an example that you can achieve anything through hard work and passion, and you don’t need many years of experience and millions in the bank – your passion, creativity and hard work are everything.
L: By chance, I’ve worked in mostly female teams which have inspired me in so many ways. My female colleagues have taught me so much about being unapologetically themselves and never shying away from expressing their personality in the workplace.
How can women continue to support each other in digital?
G: By being open and supportive – this could be done through mentorships, networking events, women-only conferences (like Women in Tech SEO) – look for local meet-ups in your area. Within the workplace, I think it’s super important to build a positive, inclusive work culture where everyone (not just women) are encouraged to speak up, ask questions and respect each other – something we strive to do at Yard!
S: By continuing to build each other up – approach other women in networking events, reach out women who inspire you and tell them. Listen to each other and make sure everyone gets a chance to speak their mind. Digital is a space for everyone and ‘you can sit with us‘.
Do you think there’s a stereotype attached to women in technology or digital?
D: Yes, there’s been a stereotype about women working in tech for a long time, mainly that they are tomboyish or that they are nerdy (which can be said for men as well).I feel it’s something that women in the tech industry have felt they’ve had to fit into. As the number of women in tech increases, the industry will change.
L: As there is still an in-balance of women working in tech, it still comes as a surprise to see women leading the way in this industry. Therefore I find there is a stereotype attached to women who do work in tech and they are often categorised as “one of the lads”.
What do you think is the biggest issue today facing women?
J: I think there is still a long way to go for equality when it comes to a healthy work and family life balance. There is still a social expectation of women being the one who is expected to look after a young child and sacrifice her career.
S: The criticism of women today, and the way society tries to push them into being what’s considered ‘acceptable’. It feels like we can’t win.
If you speak your mind, you’re too pushy; if you don’t, you’re a pushover and bring nothing to the table. If you choose to be a working mother, you’re putting work before your family; if you want to be a stay-at-home mother, you’re lazy. Feminist but not too feminist, ambitious but not to the detriment of others.
This feeling is demonstrated perfectly in Girls Girls Girls Magazine’s recent campaign.
Should we call-out or challenge gender inequality when we witness it? How can we do this?
R: Obviously we should, but it can sometimes be difficult in a workplace scenario where no one wants to create an awkward situation. I think companies should take responsibility for creating an environment where people of any gender feel comfortable to raise concerns in an open and honest way.
What one message do you want women to take away from celebrating International Women’s Day?
L: That there is hope for an equal world in the future and together we will achieve this.
C: As digital is a relatively new industry, I think this creates an opportunity for women to break barriers we might otherwise face. We’re creating a space where we can write our own story.
R: We should celebrate the progress made in terms of gender inequality. When we consider how far society has come in the last century, we should feel a huge sense of pride and optimism about the future. We still have some way to go but realms of equality are moving in the right direction.
G: That we’re all in this together! It’s about women empowering each other, and building each other up – working together in any way possible to achieve our career dreams and equality!