Diane Wong (Digital Performance Manager)
I didn’t have to think twice when the opportunity arose to apply for Google’s SheLeads training program. I wanted to be proactive with my leadership development as it’s imperative that leaders learn how to better engage with team members, gain knowledge of different client needs and most importantly, strive to set an example for others. Having studied at an all-girls’ school, we were always taught to lead and achieve regardless of gender.
I’ve also been fortunate enough not to experience gender bias throughout my career to date, so I wanted to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of workplace gender diversity and inclusion by attending this program.
The one-day workshop was designed ‘by women, for women, to help break those barriers down and focus on female career development’. What ensued was a jam-packed day of practical personal and group activities, knowledge sharing from like-minded peers, and inspirational anecdotes from award-winning entrepreneur Sarah Liu.
By the end of the day, we shared work management practices within the agency landscape, identified our unique strengths as individuals and worked through how media & culture shape society’s perception of gender stereotypes. More importantly, I walked away feeling inspired with a personal vision. A personal vision, of simply, making a difference.
Caitlin Lloyd (Performance Director)
I can’t recall a single occasion when my gender has impacted my career path (either positively or negatively) and with women in digital agencies making up 55% of entry level roles I didn’t expect it to. However, before attending SheLeads we were asked to complete some preparation work and this made me mindful of the fact this was unlikely to always be the case.
We were asked who our primary caregiver was as a child and whether that parent/guardian worked. I quickly noted that my mother had cared for me and my two siblings and that she was employed variously as a nurse, counsellor and charity fundraiser (part-time once we were in high school). Within thirty minutes of the introductory address, I realized the topic of how to balance career and motherhood would become unavoidable and I tried to hide my frustration that this would be an unlikely agenda point at any non-gender specific career seminar.
Throughout the day several women talked about their concerns as working mothers and with women earning 85% of their male counterparts, a gap that grows with age and increases by about 7% less per child, I could see why. There was no magic bullet identified, the best advice I heard was to find a partner who is willing and able to share (or in some cases manage) childcare and to work for a company that allows you to take advantage of technological advances by working flexibly and remotely where necessary.
At iProspect I enjoy working with a senior leader who regularly talks about his children and the impact being a father has on his profession. I believe that sets a precedent where the best people are recruited and promoted regardless of their parental status, giving me confidence the tide may finally be turning and discussions on how to ‘have it all’ can move on.
Lana Weal (Digital Performance Manager)
I’ve always had an interest in gender issues. It’s fascinating how women’s roles in society have evolved and I’m proud to be from New Zealand – where women were first allowed to vote.
I count myself lucky to work at iProspect where the culture is very open, my boss is a woman who’s dedicated to supporting the whole team, and where our higher level managers are engaged with diversity issues.
SheLeads shared a lot of interesting information as well as personal stories. Common themes reoccurred throughout the day and my favourite part was discussing biases. We all have our own biases (conscious or unconscious) and it’s helpful to delve deeper into what we assume about people – often because of their demographics. I found it helpful to be aware, think a little deeper and ask myself questions like – is this person acting based on their values, their own preconceived assumptions or with respect for all beings?
My favourite part of the day was the panel discussion where industry experts shared their experiences with failure, handling difficult situations, active listening and sparking change.
I also loved the analogy of thinking of ourselves like a tea bag in hot water – we have a great impact on the world around us, no matter how small and our surroundings change because of our input.
Lesley Kelly (Digital Performance Manager)
I am grateful to work in an organization where being female doesn’t influence how I am perceived or treated at work. I never feel that my gender is a barrier to promotion and if anything, I find that thought humorous. For other women, like my sister, this isn’t the case. Most days she is faced with unconscious bias when people assume there is no way she could be a captain of an aircraft, a job which she worked extremely hard for, because she’s female.
Initially, I applied for SheLeads as I think it’s important for everyone to be aware of the gender inequality issues women may be facing now or could face in the future and understand how best to tackle these. The day covered a lot of material including the historical context of feminism from the early 20th century to today, the current pay gap and best practices for creating a gender-equal workplace.
My favourite section was when we discussed the Heidi v Howard case study. A researcher talked about an entrepreneur to a group of students. Half were told their name was Heidi; the other half Howard. Afterwards, they were asked their impressions and though they rated them both as competent and worthy of respect, Howard was viewed as a more likable colleague whilst Heidi was described as selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work for.” It’s amazing to think that the exact same data was provided but that gender created hugely different reactions.
It was also interesting to discuss the pay gap and how prevalent it is in the Australian market. Only 23% of women in media, advertising & creative think their pay is equal to their male peers whilst 88% of men felt the same. I recommend watching the video “Pinksourcing” for a tongue-in-cheek view of this difficult issue.