Today is International Women’s Day #IWD2023.
This year’s theme is about innovation and technology for gender equality (DigitALL), and it highlights the role of innovative technology in promoting gender equality.
For the occasion, we asked three women at Cream to share their view on equality within their field of expertise that can be quite a male environment; Angie, full stack engineer, Monica .NET Developer, and Eglantine, Data Analyst.
Have you ever faced difficulties and discrimination as a woman in a relatively male environment during your studies or in your work?
Eglantine: During my studies I didn’t feel there was any discrimination even if we were just 2 or 3 girls for a whole class of boys (I studied maths).
During my first job, I was a consultant for a firm in Belgium and we were two interns to go for a 4-months mission and when seeing the billing our company charged for the mission, I was surprised to see the other intern (who was a man) was charged more than me for exactly the same position and the same workload even though we had the same education. That’s the first (and only until now) time I felt discriminated on my gender.
Do you feel you would have the same chances of evolving in your position against a male peer?
Angie: I think that even though we’ve come a long way, there’s still work to be done concerning being viewed as an equal in a given position. To be completely honest, I’m a little skeptical about having the same chances as a male peer.
I’ve been in situations where I was at a higher position than a male colleague, and still was considered below them by other (male) employees. I’d like to say that it depends on the company, but even in the best ones, there’s always people who have a hard time swallowing the pill about these matters.
What is the biggest achievement you are the most proud of?
Monica: I am proud that I was able to make a radical change in my career towards something that I realised I wanted for a long time, even if many would have considered that it is too late for that and that it is difficult to be a junior again after having practiced at a senior level in another field.
Angie: I’m proud of the maturity that I’ve gained throughout my career. I used to take every discriminative remark to heart and that took a toll on my mental health.
I’m not saying I don’t care anymore, but I’ve definitely improved my way of dealing with that kind of negativity. I’ve also learned to navigate social situations better and to use discrimination to my advantage in some ways.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in this industry?
Monica: That is an elegant job and yet there is no dress code. You can be inventive because there isn’t one strict way to do things well, it’s a creative job. But it’s also the best part of being a man in this industry…
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in this industry? What do you wish you had known?
Angie: The best advice I can think of is to follow your gut, and don’t approach discrimination with a mindset to eradicate it by yourself, because that’s just going to end up costing you hours of therapy. Instead, learn to identify it early on and move away from it.
You shouldn’t deprive yourself from a career you want just because of a social construct. Also, if a man complains to you about your behavior, just tell him he’s being too emotional. (that’s a joke please don’t take me seriously).
Monica : That there are no limits, only self-imposed ones. Everything can be trained and becomes easier after more practice.
Eglantine: I would advise to speak up when you want to be heard because I was often in a situation where I wasn’t listened to during meeting and this made me more shy and now I tend to be more discrete but it shouldn’t be the case.