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International Women’s Day: Hear from the women at Gamma

Did you know that for every 100 men promoted to a management position, only 86 women follow suit? Despite some efforts in more recent years to bridge the gap in senior roles, there’s still a “broken rung” on women’s ladder to progression.

In honour of International Women’s Day, we sat down with some of the incredible women that make up Gamma to discuss the 2022 theme, ‘break the bias’.

In this candid interview, the team reveals some of the barriers they’ve faced throughout their career. Read on to discover how they’ve overcome these challenging situations and what empowers them to push forward, both in and out of the workplace.

Helen Bowman, Head of Customer Experience

I think gender bias is something almost all of us do subconsciously. Because we’re often not aware that we’re doing it, it makes it very difficult to tackle. I quite often observe women being viewed negatively for saying something or behaving in a way that I feel would be more readily accepted if she were male.

It’s not just men that react this way – often it’s other women, and I’ve even been guilty of it myself! It’s a systemic thing that we’ll hopefully evolve out of, but it’s not going to change overnight. I always (try to) communicate in a way that is honest, professional, and respectful whoever my audience.

What empowers you in your career?

Empowerment for me has meant choice and control over how fast my career progresses while balancing this against the requirements of my family. I chose to take my foot off the gas whilst my children were small. I transitioned from full-time Project Manager to an internally focussed role supporting the Professional Services team.

Now that my family is less dependent on me day-to-day, I’ve been able to pick my career back up and start thinking about long-term goals. I do know how lucky I have been to work for a manager – and an organisation – that has allowed me this flexibility. They see the value my skills and experience can bring, rather than just the number of hours I sit in an office. Sadly, I don’t think my experience is a typical one. Society has a way to go before the playing field is levelled for women who choose to have children. I do believe we will have evolved further towards this by the time my girls are in the workplace.

Su Ingram, Digital Marketing Manager

I come from a very traditional Vietnamese family that tend to favour men. I remember being selected to join a student exchange program in Australia. My parents couldn’t be prouder, but a relative asked: ‘What’s the point of a girl like you trying so hard to get higher education, you’ll end up married, staying at home, and relying on your future man.’ I was speechless.

Luckily, my parents supported me and off I flew to Melbourne. Three years later I had my degree and two internships lined up. They sent me off to Melbourne for 3 years. I’m now a proud, career-driven mum. To overcome gender bias in my career, and my life has taken a lot of time and effort. Thankfully, I’ve got the greatest support from my parents, siblings, and now my partner. At least I know that we’re not breaking the bias alone, we’re in it together.

What empowers you in your career?

I feel empowered when arming myself with knowledge and ignoring any toxic discussions or approaches.

We as women can care too much about how other people see us. If there was a switch that we could press to turn off all that negative noise – one that could help us stay focussed on building our life and career – wouldn’t that be incredible?!

Charlotte Brewell-Chubb, Business Analyst

I overcome bias by fully integrating myself into the teams I work with and proving that I can do the job.

What empowers you in your career?

I set myself goals and believe in my ability. I strive to improve on the day before and always aim to be the best I can be.

Sylvie Noel, Product Marketing Manager

I’ve overcome gender bias by being determined to succeed at whatever I put my mind to. I don’t accept any limitations that are put on me and will always strive to do my best and follow my dreams. I also think a big part of overcoming gender bias is being aware and feeling empowered to call out any type of bias.

What empowers you in your career?

I feel empowered when working with a diverse group of people who can share ideas and work collaboratively. I also feel empowered knowing that I can be a role model to people who look like me and wish to enter a predominantly male industry like technology.

Lindi Reilly, Digital Learning and Development Manager

I always remember being in a team where I was the only female. I was in a junior role, but keen to impress and contribute my own ideas. Just before our first meeting, I was quickly appointed tea maker.

Whilst I was making everyone’s tea/coffee, the meeting started without me. I was regularly talked over and not listened to. When asked to get another round in, I made a light-hearted comment that someone else should go next. Someone volunteered, but we didn’t continue the meeting without them.

I ensure that I’m not being biased in my own work by using language and images that will help to attract talent all audiences when recruiting or delivering content. Everyone in my team should have the same opportunity to develop and progress.

Emma Everett, Head of Direct Marketing

Being told I can’t or shouldn’t be able to do something has always given me that extra focus and fire to keep pushing to achieve more. Being female and (still relatively) young in my career has presented obstacles along the way but by no means barriers – if anything it’s encouraged me to work that little bit harder. Having personal and professional objectives to achieve – both short and long term – has helped me to stay focused and it’s always good to celebrate the little wins along the way.

I’ve also been really lucky to have had some great leaders who I’ve worked for and with, who have supported me, believed in me and given me the opportunities to prove myself.

What empowers you in your career?

I’ve always been driven by creating tangible results in whatever role I’ve had. I am passionate about changing the perception of marketing. It should be seen across any business as a value-generating function and supporting all aspects of the organisation to achieve overall business success.

Jo Shuttleworth, Head of CX

There are several actions I’ve taken personally to help address gender bias. During recruitment, I’m always clear that we are looking for a diverse range of candidates. We’ve also created programmes working with schools to help educate young people in understanding the full range of roles that exist in technology.

I’d encourage calling out gender bias as, in my experience, it has had positive outcomes. In most cases the bias is unconscious. Providing feedback about how certain language could paint a biased view is met with appreciation. I’ve seen this feedback have a knock-on effect where people have consciously adjusted their language.

What empowers you in your career?

For me, this is twofold, in terms of how I feel about the work I do and how I can help others to be their best. One of my favourite articulations of empowerment is by Dan Pink. He talks about autonomy, mastery and purpose, which to me perfectly describes the values that empower and drive me.

In essence, it’s the ability to work in a self-directed environment, to constantly develop and stay connected with the value and outcome of your work is at the heart of empowerment. Thinking about how you can enable this, both for yourself and for your team, is a great starting point for building an empowered and motivated culture.