Women hugging

Female is not my brand

09 March 2020Rosie Barrett

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg said, “In future there will be no female leaders, there will just be leaders”. In this episode The Experience Makers asks whether we are any closer to reaching that point in the technology sector.

Sarah Gunderson from software giant, Adobe, joins Cognifide’s Kat Edmondson for this authentic and positive conversation with host, Gemma Milne, to mark International Women’s Day. Together they bust a few popular myths about the realities of being a woman in tech today, talk about female role models (and what it means to be one), and how they feel culture is definitely shifting towards gender being less of an issue.

Sarah, Gemma & Kat

Here’s a sneak peak at their discussion, but to hear more from the trio,  tune in by clicking the link below!  

Clickable link to podcast

Every woman is an individual  

There are two sides to the equality conversation these days. Whilst it’s important that women have a platform and the right to discuss  the female experience, there needs to be a balance in the conversation where they can be  successful in their own right without being defined by their gender.  

We can’t escape the fact that the tech industry has historically been male dominated, but should this put women off today? According to Sarah and Kat, times are definitely changing and there is much more of a balance today. If you’re focused on building your own career and confident about your aspirations, there is plenty of opportunity. Everyone, male and female, is an individual. The question today should be how can we leverage this and  support these ‘individuals’?  

I’m not going to conform to type, I’m going to have my own personality, whatever that might be. And feel brave enough to do that.

Sarah Gunderson

We need to talk about it, but how?  

Let's start from a cultural perspective. As Sarah suggests, customers are  increasingly edging towards companies that resonate with their own personal brand. Who do they represent? What values do they have? Who are they supporting? With this, the dynamics of the gender conversation are quickly changing. 

Whilst the media can often position this topic negatively - ‘we aren’t doing enough’, ‘we need to be doing more’. Actually, we need to switch this conversation to being positive about the strides that are being made. ‘Who are the companies doing this well?’, ‘How are they being more inclusive?’, and ensure that access to information is easy. 

Awareness is key.  

It all comes down to making individuals more aware of opportunities, and society is waking up to this. 

I love books like ‘Goodnight stories for rebel girls’. You go from being a female pirate to working at Nasa. With that mindset, there are just so many different options out there that you could be looking at and you’re not held back by your gender or your race or anything like that.

Sarah Gunderson

Equally, people often have misconceptions about the opportunities available in tech but, as Kat points out, there is a vast number of roles opening up alongside the more traditional coding and programming jobs that people need to know more about. In reality, people from all different backgrounds and walks of life, who didn’t start their career in tech are now bringing their experience and knowledge to help diversify the pool of interactions, the outcomes we get and products we develop. There isn't just one side to tech. Today it's just business generally and needs to be a shift in people's perceptions and the sooner we start this the better. 

The conversation touches upon the role of men in this and asks what is the most effective way to involve them in this space? And how can they help to empower women. Maybe it's as simple as just being part of the conversation and embodying change by living the talk.  

Kat, Gemma & Sarah in studio

Balance for better 

When you get a more diverse workforce, you actually get other opinions. So the more women you have, or the more diverse workforce that you actually have involved, the company itself benefits as well

Kathleen Edmondson

Companies need to ensure that they are creating a cultural movement focused around what is good. This will only drive positive behaviour, and in turn bridge the gap. As Sarah suggests, everybody wants to be innovative. If having a diverse workforce and more equal cultures drives innovation, why would a company not consider that? 

Transparency & Empowerment

Kat talks about transparency and ensuring that everyone knows there is a fair playing field for development. Celebrating the capabilities of individuals within the workforce is a great way to give people a voice to have the more daunting conversations. Companies need to provide an environment for individuals to have a voice and be their own brand. That’s a step in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to ask.  

So that’s just a few of the themes discussed in this month's episode of The Experience Makers, Female is not my brand. The full discussion is well worth a listen. Make sure you download it to hear more! 

In April...  

Gemma will be joined in the studio by Chloe Cox and Stacey Neumann, from Wunderman Thompson, discussing how marketers drive their brand across a multichannel strategy and whether they can trust external forces like social media to accurately reflect their customer experience? 

Author: Rosie Barrett
Published: 09 March 2020

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