EmXcore podcast Episode 8: Woman in tech – a roundtable discusion

In this episode we talk about Woman in tech with a panel of woman from different parts of the industry and different parts of the world. (Netherlands, USA, Bulgaria and Nigeria) We talk about shared experiences, differences and breaking the bias and how to do this.

Lisa:

Welcome everyone to another episode of the EmXcore podcast, A podcast where we will invite customers, partners, or anyone of whom we think has something interesting to say, or has some interesting views on the internet and networking industry.

Today is slightly different because I don’t have one but 5 guests joining me today, which I am super excited about.

Woman in tech

Following international woman’s day earlier this month I have invited these amazing woman to sit down and talk about woman in tech, share some experiences, points of view and looks towards the future.

First things first, let’s do a quick round of introductions, so we know who we have here. We have a nice mix of roles and parts of the industry as well as different parts of the world.

So just quickly who are you and what do you do?

Let’s start with you Margarita

Margarita Kostova:

Pleased to meet you girls. It is great way to deal with your Friday afternoon actually.
So I work for Sofia Connect for more than a decade now. We are a wholesale company, we deal with data and transport. Before Sofia-connect I was dealing with wholesale voice. So I’ve been mostly involved in the wholesale trade side of the telecommunications. As a role I’m an operations director, and that’s pretty much it.

Lisa:
Cool, thanks. Welcome. Maya, do you want to continue?

Maya Zaneva:
So my name is Maya and I work for EmXcore for nine years now, actually. And my role there, um, well basically as a company we are quite flexible. I can do also multiple tasks in the office, but the main role is sales. Actually margarita is one of my greatest customers from Bulgaria. So Yeah, basically, that’s what I do.

Lisa:
Cool, thanks Maya. Next one is Fatimah.

Fatimah Adelodun:
Hi everybody. So my name is Fatimah. I work at the Nigerian bulk electricity trading as the information/cybersecurity manager. I have experience in tech, in IT and I work in cybersecurity now, so happy to hear from you!

Fatimah’s instagram page where she shares Cybersecurity tips, tech news, and career advice

Lisa:
Nice, nice. Very good. Let me see, we have Nancy there as well, I believe.

Nancy Novak:
Yep. Hi everybody. This is Nancy. I am chief innovation officer for Compass data centre’s, so we build the infrastructure that you guys put your products and services into. My background is 30 years of building all kinds of complex facilities, and now we’re on, we’re globally building out data centre’s for, you know, the various hyperscalers in the world.


Lisa:
Cool. Thanks Nancy. And then we have Zinat.

Zinat Farhang:
I’m Zinat. I am working in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. I work almost 6 years now as a software developer and now a software architect for an IT company called CGI.

Zinat’s LinkedIn page


And next to working full-time I also volunteer at a movement, global movement we call it, Women in Tech. It has some branches in France, in the US, all over the world. We are very active and we are a group of maybe 15, 20 people in the core, making events, calls and interesting arrangements like that. And yeah, very, very, very active. I have joined around a year ago, more than a year ago and it’s great to have these kind of discussions with women in tech, about women in Tech I get very excited every time.

Lisa:
That’s great! That’s what we need. And speaking about that, are there any challenges you face working in tech specifically as a woman working in tech?

Zinat:
Oh, that’s straight in! Well, challenges.. I mean, if I may start with the answer, I think the challenges don’t come necessarily with us being the women, the challenges are basically from the system that already has been in place for many, many years, not considering the needs of different people. A great group of people, a majority of people that were forgotten in that system were for example women. But more and more that I look into it I see that, many other groups have been forgotten in the tech industry. And I think with different initiatives, like diversity inclusion, we try to get attention for people working in tech, to see that there are actually gaps in tech for people who are not sitting at the table making the decisions, you know? So yes, there are, there are always a lot of challenges. Yes.

Lisa:
And does anybody of you has specific examples of those challenges? Maybe even on a day to day basis?

Margarita:
Oh yeah, definitely. So when I started with the wholesale voice, one of the most asked questions I had to kind of get used to answering was, “Are you somebody secretary?” This is like the first thing you are being assumed of being at an event you know. I still have this picture, it was 2010 in Washington, where I was with my, cause I got lucky when it comes to managers and people who actually brought me up to the place that I am today, so one of my first teachers I would say she’s now a C-level lady in Amazon. So I was with her in Washington and we have this picture, the two of us, on the stairs and you can see only men behind us on this huge event. So once you get used to.

I think nowadays it’s more common to see women on higher positions in tech. But honestly, still, when it comes to credibility, especially in tech and I’m sure that some ladies will back me up on this one, like, even if you have the proper solution for something, for some customers or for some partners, they kind of need the male validation that what you are giving is a solution that is correct and properly what they need. I mean it’s still there even in 2022.

Lisa:
Yeah. It’s getting better, but there’s still a lot of prejudices you come across,

Margarita:
I know that it is not only in tech, but tech especially years ago was more of a men field. I don’t even want to talk about when it comes to engineering, probably Fatimah had her experiences there. Because whenever you see a woman engineer it’s amazing. Like I, got to know a few great women engineers who are CTOs of huge companies. And you don’t see this every day, and this is not because there is not enough good female engineers. It’s just because normally we are pushed, just because of this validation that I mentioned. You just need the male validation, that your solution, your whatever, creation, project is the one that is working.

I think the big, one of the biggest changes that we’ve seen is the biases have gone from explicit to implicit.


Nancy:
I will back you up on that. And if I can jump in, this is Nancy. I think the big, one of the biggest changes that we’ve seen is the biases have gone from explicit to implicit. Right? And what’s interesting is a lot of the implicit biases that were just being talked about, they’re not done with bad intent, right? Many times women kind of get put on the back burner, because of the systemic way that society has, you know, brought us up. What’s normalized, you know, what we accept.

So it’s not always intentional and it’s really great when it can be identified and then pointed out. Because most of the time when our male colleagues or even our female colleagues are using bias in an implicit way, if they can be aware of it, if there’s a light bulb moment and they go, “oh my gosh, I didn’t realize I was doing that.”

So I really try hard to point those things out. And again, putting women in the C-level or getting in those decision making rooms is so, so critical. Because it’s really hard to put the lenses on from other genders or, you know, from our gender or any other culture, unless you’ve been in those shoes. I mean, we’re only human, right? So humans only know what they’ve been taught and what they’ve experienced. That’s all they have right? So having that blend in those decision making rooms allows us to bring these things into the awareness that we really, really need.

And the other thing is, you know, there’s the potential versus credential conundrum, where men systemically kind of get looked at for their potential, they get hired for their potential, they get elevated for their potential. Women, we have more of a tendency of having to check every box sometimes three or four times. And we have to have those credentials in order to be considered, you know, for these positions and raises and promotions and things like that. So again, that’s a huge thing to be aware of. I don’t have a magic form now how to solve it, but just knowing it, just know is helpful. Right?

Lisa:
Yeah, exactly. I think that’s a very valid point, especially pointing out if people have biases, because usually you’re not aware of having those biases.

Nancy:
And we all have them

Fatimah:
So this is Fatima. I just wanted to leverage on what Lisa said, what you just mentioned about the implicit bias. So for me, I mean during the course of my career I’ve been so used to, it’s better now, but I’m so used to, you know, going for a training, attending a conference and being the only women there. Right. So I thought it was something that was typical of the African system, but then I went to the UAE, I went to Europe and a lot of my trainings I’m not even surprised anymore. I sit there and it’s like 10 men, six men. And I’m the only woman. I’ve gotten used to it, but I feel like in retrospect it probably defined the way that I’ve approached, just, um, maybe adding value and also bringing in my input or feedback or insight about things.

So I thought it was something that was typical of the African system, but then I went to the UAE, I went to Europe and a lot of my trainings I’m not even surprised anymore if I am the only woman there


I’d leave it to the men to just, not that I was shy, but I would just wait my turn, if you know what I mean. And I think that’s what a lot of men, I’m not saying they are rude, but I’m just saying this bias is there. We need to find a way to make our voices heard. We need to take our seat at the table while we wait for others to catch up in terms of, you know, understanding the biases. Recognizing and you just have to do what you have to get your voices out there. And not just that, it’s also recognizing other women and making it easier for other women to catch up.

Lisa:
Yeah, definitely. It’s a big thing as well. Not only the biases, which was actually this year’s international women’s day theme, it was ‘break the bias‘. So yeah, if any of you has a great idea on how to break the bias, going a little bit further on what Nancy said earlier about pointing out to someone whenever they express their bias, or biases, how would you approach this? How would you do that?

Nancy:
I have a quick story. I know that not everybody will be able to share, but stories are always good because it resonates. So very quickly. When I was working in construction there was this couple we had hired, the female was the senior of the two. She was really the target, but we hired her husband and trained him as well. And they were getting to where they wanted to start their family. And I thought this was fantastic. You know, you guys go ahead and do it. So she ends up, you know, getting pregnant and the two of them are working in the DC area and as things progress, you know, she’s got everything figured out, dropping off, picking up, day care, the whole deal.

So she works under my division and her husband is now working for one of my colleagues. So towards the end of their pregnancy the husband got transferred to a spot where he would not be able to partake in the caregiving because he was, you know, going to be too far away. And she was devastated. And I said, well let me go talk to my colleague about this. And I said, I don’t understand why you would transfer this employee of yours out here, when you know they’re about ready to have a family and he’s going to have to be participate. And right away my colleague said, “oh, make sure that you tell your, the female, employee that she has all these options of working part-time or flex time or in the office and things like that.

And I looked at him and said, “well, why don’t we offer that to your employee? The male?” And he says, “well, we just, no, well we do, you know, we just that’s no, I, you know. And I looked at him and I said, “well, I don’t understand. I have three children and I don’t understand why you’re putting, you know, her career on the back burner, but you’re not offering the same thing to him.” And he just sat there for a minute and I said, “who is the primary breadwinner here? “And he is like, “she is.” And I’m like, “who is our target employee?” “She is” So I said, “I don’t know, they might want to do exactly what you’re recommending, but honestly isn’t it their decision and not ours? Shouldn’t we present this to the couple and let them make the decision?”

And he right away said, “oh my God, I had that all backwards”. So this is why it’s so important to have these kind of conversations where you’ve got a variety of people who can put these lenses on. And I said, “it’s not your fault. You have never been in my shoes. You don’t know how I’m viewing this situation”, but I was happy to bring that awareness. Of course they transferred him right back. So he could participate the way they had planned in the caregiving. But it was just an interesting thing where he didn’t do that intentionally. He thought he was doing what was right on her behalf. And I was like, “don’t worry about her. I got her back. Right. I’m good.” But he thought he was doing the right thing, because that’s how he would’ve wanted it in his life. Okay. Isn’t that interesting?

Maya:
Actually, I want to add a little bit to that. Because I’m a little bit lucky in the sense that I haven’t really experienced any of the kind of concerns and issues like that in my office. But it brings me back to my sister when she had three kids and when she was ready to go back to work, she was going to interviews and whenever they see she had three kids it was like a No-go. And at the first job that she started, the first thing she said was “you know what? I have three kids, but don’t worry. I have grandmothers and a sister who would help, and I’m not going to take a single day off that is not necessary, you know, that’s out of the vacation that I’m allowed “and then she was hired.

Nancy:
And then think about this, a man never has to qualify that. Right?

Maya:
Exactly.

Nancy:
Yes. So such a great example.

Maya:
And I also know from other friends of mine who are, you know, my age and planning a kid or about to have a kid, and whenever they are looking for a job, this is always an option that the employee is considering. That this fertile woman, let’s say it that way, might not be ready to work as good as if they just hire a man, you know, she would want to have kids. So basically we have to kind of make the choice if we want to build a career and after everything is established to go for the family. Why cant we also do it at the same time, like men?

Why can’t we start a family and build a career at the same time, like men?


Zinat:
You know, it’s actually a very good example. I think with women in tech on the international women’s day we had this break the bias workshop. And what was funny was that actually one example was exactly what you just mentioned. It is that when getting a promotion for example, you might actually hear somebody saying like,” oh, for example, Lisa is coming back from maternity leave and she might not be up for this challenge. So let’s put Pete on the job, because yeah, Lisa is busy taking care of her baby.” But that’s just on us, or not only on the women in the room, but also on any allies that want to make the work environment a little bit fair for everybody to be alert and say “Hey, why don’t you just ask Lisa directly?, for example, you know, instead of making the assumption. We are unfortunately, a little bit used to making assumptions about people and categorize people based on their situation.

I’d like to actually ask this question because, from the beginning of the pandemic, this has come to my attention that a lot of this dynamic has changed, at least what I see. I’m actually wondering how it is in other parts of the world or in other companies, because when it comes to, for example, opportunities or networking opportunities or promotions, or, I don’t know, if there’s a webinar, somebody needs speakers for the company. Has there been some changes in the dynamics, or in the gap between men and women? Like in my eyes, there has been some changes, but I’m not sure if I can extend it to the whole tech necessarily.

Margarita:
I really can’t see such a thing. Well I’d like to start that we are with a very small team of employees in our company, and the majority of us are working here for more than 10 years. So we kind of know each other very well, it’s like a family. So I’m blessed on this side. My, I wouldn’t say issues but you know the, challenges that I’m facing are coming with communicating with partners and customers, especially since my customer base is very specific. Most of them are coming from the middle east and I mean, with all do respect, some of them have difficulties working with women. I don’t know why. But when it comes to the pandemic, what changed for me is the way you are being accepted is just the way you communicate with people actually, because we were not allowed to travel, right.

So most of us were working from home. So you had more time to pay attention to what is said to you. So actually for me, I haven’t seen changes in this direction. Especially of the expectations of you, if you are before 30 then you are not a good match for the company because you’re going to get married. And if you get married, you are going to have kids. And if you have kids, you know, sometimes kids get sick and you have to go home. Right.

Lisa:
Does that always have to be the mom though?

Margarita:
Well, I mean, that’s the perception, right? It’s kind of a never ending story of what you have to do. And then you end up like me being 39 because your career is very important for you and just now starting thinking about kids, which is kind of ridiculous, but it’s what it is. So I haven’t seen any change in this sense, not here around IT.

Nancy:
Yeah. I mean, just statistically, it’s eight times more likely that a woman is going to look after a sick child than a man. It’s just, you know, kind of culturally, socially how we do things. And the pandemic has literally brought the women’s participation in the economy back to the 1980s. I mean,it’s a mass Exodus of women in all roles, including technology. Because of the disruption of schools and day care and things like this, and the fact that we have this role of being the primary caregivers. It’s not good news. But it’s a good thing to be aware of.

The pandemic has literally brought the women’s participation in the economy back to the 1980s, because of the disruption of schools and day care and the fact that we have this role traditionally of being the primary caregivers


Margarita:
If I look among people around me, like even my closest friends the prime caregiver, the one who sits and helps with the online schooling and with the tasks and, you know, like homework or whatever is normally the mom.

Maya:
Yeah. And basically we have two jobs, one at home.. Well at least two, at least.

Zinat:
Yeah. What actually changed during the pandemic a little bit is the view people have on flexibility and the balance between work and private life. And also what it means to be working the same time and taking care of kids at home. And what does it mean if you need to leave your work in the middle of the day and go pick up kids from school? You know in my mind, it has actually opened up a discussion that now it can actually be everybody’s job. But I know that from the statistics, mostly women have taken the harder hit after the pandemic financially and also emotionally, because of all basically the free labour that women do next to their jobs. I think there has been, at least in the industry as far as I can see, a little bit of more an open mind for these kind of balance or more space to talk about flexibility of work, let’s say

Nancy:
You’re absolutely right. I mean it has amplified the ability to work remotely and have that flexibility. I love that. I mean, I’m super excited about that. That’s the silver lining right there. So very, very good point.

Lisa:
In terms of how you do stuff and how you approach your work, do you feel like there’s a difference between how you do stuff and how your male colleagues do stuff?

Fatimah:
I think so. I think generally women tend to have a more relaxed energy in a group. I mean, if that’s the right word, I guess that’s what has allowed this biases to just continue for so long. Women are really smart people, but we tend to just be relaxed and we just, you know, let things go. And for me that is why it’s important that these conversations are happening, and people are actually speaking up.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been in meetings and I’d have things that I’d want to add, but just because I was in a room filled with like 10 men, not necessarily that I wasn’t comfortable, I was just, I guess, over it. Like, let them have it, let them just do it. So I have that passive way of just addressing things or being visible or being heard in conversations. And those are things that I noticed. Affecting and really being like my own bias.

Cause I don’t think, I won’t say that I’ve experienced active very visible biases, but for like the passive ones I know that I, at least in my own experience, I feel like I allowed it just cause I was more passive in my approach to things. And I just had realize that I’m going to be the only woman in a lot of conversations and I have to be able to assert myself and show my credibility.

So I started talking more. And also because I know what I experienced, I know that when I’m in a room filled with more men than women, I try to let more women speak as well or get the time to also put them in the conversation. So to answer your question, I know that men are different from women. Men are more, you know, , they just speak up. They take ownership, they go after the promotions, the pay gaps, all these things. They go and they ask and they demand it. But we, as woman, may tend to just talk about it with each other, but not necessarily go and demand it.

Or we just talk about it and we let it go, but men don’t do that. So one thing I’ve learned without necessarily being, you know, a rude person, is to also demand for it as women. It’s unfortunate that we have to, but it is what it is and that’s what I do. I make my voice heard. And also I demand for things that I know I’m owned basically in the workplace.

One thing I’ve learned is to make my voice heard and to demand things that I know I’m owned in the workplace


Lisa:
The funny thing is because we talk a lot about the biases that men might have towards women, but a little bit in your answer was already that women have a lot of biases about themselves as well or about men.

Fatimah:
Oh yeah, definitely. I’ve been in meetings where even culturally women are more subservient and their voices are not supposed to be heard if that’s the right way of saying it.

And so that extends to even the workplace, apart from the cultural norms. Also the balance that at least in STEM, you know there are now more woman in engineering, in math. You can still get overshadowed and their voices can be a bit overwhelming, but women are really smart, you know and we just have to let that show. And that’s what I mean without being angry or crazy about this, just assert yourself more. I think that for me, that’s some of the key takeaways from all the conversations I’ve had in the past. You have to assert yourself, you have to help those people that you think are upcoming and might be going through the same challenges that you went through and just demand better as a woman in the workplace.

Lisa:
Yeah. Oh yeah. That’s very important. Indeed. Do you feel like, since that was definitely the case in the past, a lot of women still think tech is really just a man thing or even women shouldn’t be interested in general in technology?



Fatimah:
Definitely. First of all, if you see the way the job roles are advertised, they make it such a male focus. You just feel like, okay this might not be for me, this might be for a man. Another thing is we look at the promotional aspect. You know, I am in cybersecurity, for example, you see movies and all these things that talk about cybersecurity and you will see a white male and you think, okay. It’s just that mental conditioning that begins to happen. And I think you begin to also tell yourself or see it as just male dominated. Meanwhile, I mean, I’m in cybersecurity and I know that I’m killing it in cyber security.

So basically the conditioning starts and then women are just like, okay maybe this isn’t a women’s field. And then that’s what happens. I know myself through my career, I didn’t see a lot of women role models. I didn’t see a lot of women to get more guidance or just to brainstorm about the challenges in the field. How I can navigate my path in the field? So those are some of the things. I mean, I see a lot of men talking, a lot of men networking and connecting and helping each other and pulling each other, you know? So a great absence of that, a great fear of absence of that also, empowers that even more.

I mean, that is one of the things that I want to do. One of the things that I advocate for on LinkedIn (check out Fatimah’s podcast on woman in Cyber security here), you know, just demystifying about that. I mean, it is painted as a male field or like a men’s club type thing, but definitely there are a lot of women now and we need to showcase on spotlight this women more so that more people see that actually this is doable for women and we can actually thrive and absolutely kill it in whatever whether we choose STEM or not.

Maya:
Actually I was going to say this is not only at work. This is also at home, for example, you know women they have to cook, they have to clean the house, they cannot do the handy work, change the light bulb or change the outlet. And why not?

Margarita:
You know I can’t actually, I really can’t, but just keep it between us. Maybe I can, I just haven’t tried it.

Maya:
No, but you know, I’m a little bit more handier for a woman. You know, saying that out loud, it’s wrong because why do I have to compare myself to a man? I am just handy with stuff and not because I have it on me. Sometimes I Google it, I try it. It doesn’t work exactly how it shows on Google, but I try, I fix some stuff and it’s working perfectly fine, you know, and I’m not dependent, you know on somebody to come and help me all the time. Of course there are things that I cannot do, but first I would try it. And then it’s the same reverse, you know, why a man cannot be like a great cook and clean the house if they just love to do that, you know why there should be this division?

Nancy:
Especially when all the famous chefs are men. So, you know, I agree with that.

But I wanted to ask you guys, I love this conditioning that Fatma was talking about. Geena Davis has this cool initiative that she does and it’s called Gender in media. And that is that her coin term is : if she can see it, she can be it. So if you look at her statistics, it’s kind of like all of the things we see in the media ,any form of media, is within a percent of real life. So in her mind, if you could just take a stroke of a pen and change the casting of a show, or, you know, anything on the internet, if you can start changing that message it’ll change the way we normalize how things are supposed to be. Right. And there was this one thing that really resonated with me when she was at one of the conferences I was at. Someone said to her, “what would success look like for you as you go through this initiative?” And she said, “when my six year old daughter is watching a movie and she sees a boardroom and there’s only one woman, I want her to go, that’s weird. “

When my six year old daughter is watching a movie and she sees a boardroom with only one woman, I want her to go “That’s weird”

Geena Davis


Fatimah:
That is so fun.

Nancy:
Isn’t that something right?

Fatimah:
That’s amazing.

Margarita:
I was thinking that once you’ve been in certain fields and you’ve got the experience you need to improve yourself, there’s another way of people being biased towards you when it comes to going up in the company or in your title. So when I speak about, and I’m sure that Nancy is going to back me up on this one, when you come to the door of being a C-level person, when you shift from like a regular manager to a C-level person there is this specific time. There is always the question, if it’s a woman, isn’t she too vulnerable towards her emotions. It’s like men are actually without emotions?! Like, is she going to be, you know because of your monthly thingies, too emotional to decide?

And again, I’ve been trying to explain this to a friend of mine who has a very successful company. And he was looking for a chief commercial officer and I was helping him with interviews. And he was like, “this is nice lady, but you know, you women are very emotional. ” Like, what you talking about? Like, what do you mean? Like very emotional, what is too much of an emotion and what is enough to be a good C-level person? And he was like, “yeah, but you know, like you are very easily disappointed or blah, blah, blah, or when interacting with customers”. “And I’m like, you do realize I’m an operation director for five years now. So you literal, they’re telling me that I’m not good at my job because I’m a woman.?”

Nancy:
Yeah. I absolutely back that up and, you know, to make a light of it, I always remind the men that we live longer than they do on average, because of the way we display our emotions is much healthier than the way they just play their emotions. So I always like to give them a hard time about that.

I do remember one time one of my VPs that I was working with asked me to calm down when I was getting excited about something. And I finally looked at him and I said, and we were good friends, but I looked at him. I said, “Hey, when I get passionate about something, the octave in my voice goes up and I start speaking quicker, it’s in my DNA and I can’t change it. So you’re just going to have to get used to it.” And he was like, oh, okay. And I was like, God, I wish I would’ve, you know, thought of saying that 20 years ago. Because that’s the way it is. But you’re right, that we get perceived, very differently than the men. So just remember that we live longer.


Margarita:
Oh yeah. We live longer.

Fatimah:
Imagine that you now have, and I think this is what I mean and I try to advocate for, imagine that you now have a group of women or ladies or younger girls that you speak to from time to time and give them this kind of insights. That I’m a woman, this is what I do. Deal with it.

Zinat:
Yep. And it doesn’t have to necessarily be the stereotype of the eighties. That the CEO is a man in a suit who never smiles and has a cigarette in his hands. I feel like that stereotype is still living back in the mind of people from the movies the old culture. It is not an argument anymore to say like, Hey, you’re too emotional. I feel like whenever there is no argument, we go back to that argument, but it basically had something to do with the fact that you don’t actually necessarily fit into a template that I have somewhere in the back of my mind of a CEO. Like for example we had some interviews for candidates for a C -level position, three men, one woman, we didn’t feel ‘the click’ with the woman, you know. And that click is always something that can not be specified into details of what is it actually, and in my mind it always goes back to that template that you don’t actually fit in that stereotypical CEO, uh, suit .

It doesn’t have to necessarily be the stereotype of the eighties. The CEO is a man in a suit who never smiles and has a cigarette in his hands.


Nancy:
True. Yeah. And I mean, honestly, we don’t want to fit in. I had this one guy who was a, you know, president of this big company, huge, huge curtain wall company. And he said to me, one time, he said, “you know, I just really respect the women in my company and I just think you guys are so amazing. And by the way, I couldn’t do what I do in my position, if I didn’t have my wife at home supporting me”. And I looked at him, I said, “you know, I think you said that with really good intentions, but what you just told a young person is they cannot do your job unless they have what you have at home. And I can assure you, that’s not the case. In fact, they could probably do your job better but differently.” And he said, “I’m so happy you said that to me”. Because again it was implicit and he didn’t understand what the message was he was giving.

I have a lot of optimism about bringing in this kind of awareness. And what I do love too is in the world of tech or engineering or construction and all these things the schools have been, i mean, we’ve filled that pipeline. Like the engineering courses are full of women now. So we don’t have that excuse to not go find that kind of talent. And I do also think that the job descriptions of putting into attributes that aren’t male dominated versus so many years of experience is a positive thing.

So it’s becoming more acceptable, you know, for us to say, this, the talent that we’re leaving on the sidelines and it is really just preventing us from growth and opportunity return on our investment. So it feels like it’s obvious to me because I live in this bubble, it’s not obvious to everybody. So it’s up to us to kind of have this ripple in the pond effect of continuing to have these wonderful discussions, right, all around the world. What a fabulous group this is right? from all these different perspectives. This has been fantastic.

Lisa:
Yes. Oh, exactly. For sure. I wanted to ask another question, but this sounds like such a positive ending. I’m going to ask it anyway. It was a more difficult question. A lot of companies are dealing, to close that gender gap, with quotas. Like they need a specific percentage of women in high positions or in the company in general. What’s your thoughts on that? Isn’t, there’s always the danger of then hearing, “oh she’s only there because of filling the quota”?

Margarita:
This is not only for women off course, also when it comes to racial and..

Nancy:
Everything yeah.

Margarita:
It’s not just woman and men. Well, I think it’s actually offending, sorry. And I, it’s kind of sad, like, if you cannot push yourself as a CEO of a company to ensure that you’re choosing the people in your team, based on who’s going to fit the best, regardless of their age, sex and race and religion. It’s just, I think it’s one more point towards my feeling that we have failed in choosing the people who leads us generally worldwide.

If you need somebody to regulate the kind of women you have in your company or the kind of people you have in your company, if you have gay or transgender or whatever, like different from the stereotype, and you have to be forced just to look good on paper or if somebody’s checking you out and that’s the only reason why you are doing it then I wouldn’t want to work in a company like this.

Nancy:
I always like to throw shade on the fact though that this is a two-sided coin. Because you have to be intentional. If you want to increase diversity, you have to be intentional. But at the same time, I always like to throw shade on the fact that oh yeah, because all the white men on the boards are the most qualified. Right? Because seriously, I mean, come on. For a woman to get on a board, they go, oh, we have to make sure she’s qualified. Well, did you say that about the other 10 men that were sitting on the board? No, I mean, come on. Let’s be real. Right. But yeah. Good question though. Cause it’s, it’s a two-sided coin.

Fatimah:
I guess for now it’s the only, one of the right steps in ensuring that there’s accountability in terms of hiring and ensuring composition. Because otherwise you could leave it to hiring based on competencies or capabilities and no quotas, no compliance or requirements on that, then we’ll continue to have those conversations, but there won’t be any real translation in terms of the action. So as sad and unfortunate as it is, I think a step in the right direction. If you’re not going do it, then we’re going to compel you to do it. I say, I don’t mind it.

Zinat:
Yeah, totally agree. I mean, it’s very sad that’s true. And I agree that it’s not ideal. In an ideal word, you just want the bias to not be there and there is total balance after a very honest system of getting people inside the company and getting promotions etcetera. But that is not the world we are living in.

And I am actually wondering if the quota, like you said you don’t actually want to be in a company that only wants to be good on paper, that is actually very true. And those companies are now looking into the fact that people are leaving not only because we don’t look good on the papers, but because people are not attracted to this kind of environment anymore. And people know there is a whole change in the leadership, in the tech field at least, about diversity. So yeah it’s sad, but I, I ..

Margarita:

Every time I hear diversity I just imagine being presented as this is the girl from Eastern Europe. I mean whatever follows after this, it’s very like “She made it”. Like she is form Eastern Europe!! I mean you go to the US and there are people there asking me “Do you have electricity in your house over there?” I mean my country was established in 681. I mean probably Fatimah, you have the same experience right?

Fatimah:

I was just going to say, what do you want me to say? I live in Africa, they think I live on trees! Don’t worry, I know you I know how you feel. That is a whole other conversation.

If diversity means exploiting me coming from this unpopular part of the world.. I don’t want this to be my businesscard.

Margarita:

So if diversity means, someone exploiting me coming from this not so popular part of the world, in including us. I don’t want this to be my business card. If I have to, I am going to work three times more, because I reached to where I am without exploiting this part of myself.

And I think most importantly when you want to make a change in the company enforcing those rules is just going to create a situation where somebody will be like “Okay so they hired her and there is a possibility she will do her job well. It’s like a 50/50 change”. For me it is too pushy, so I would be advising, if I had too not to do it like that.

In our company it is not intentional but we happen to have more woman than man here, even on the tech side of things it’s more woman. And it is not because I pushed about it, but because they are very good at what they do. So I would say it is better for you ladies to embrace the challenge and be better. That’s it. Because if I am just there to fill a quota, I don’t like it.

Lisa:

I think that is going to be the quote of this podcast: I am a woman, deal with it. That just sums it all up.

That’s it.

Margarita:

Coco Chanel said that woman or girls has to be only two things. Who and what she want to be.  So, that is pretty much it.

A girl has to be only two things.

Who and what she wants to be.

Coco chanel

Maya:

I got the goosebumps, just to tell you

Lisa:

I think that wraps it up perfectly. Thank you all so much for joining

Zinat:

It is such a shame we can’t go and grab a coffee now all together right!

Lisa:

And for everyone listening to this podcast thank you for listening. Let us know your thoughts or if you have any suggestions for the next episode. Hopefully until the next one!

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