International Women's Day is a day to celebrate and reflect on the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #EachForEqual – each one of us can help create a gender equal world.
We talk to Enterprise Architect, Bronwyn, about the challenges she has faced in the tech industry during her career and tips to achieving what you want.
I've had lots of fantastic opportunities in my 25-year tech career, working in both the private and public sector on an international scale. My most pivotal achievement was being invited by my Managing Director to start a new division in his consultancy firm, about 12 years ago. I'd started with the firm as the solo subject matter expert in distributed estate management. After about 18 months, I had grown the client base so rapidly I could no longer handle the work on my own. With the support and advice from management, I built a team and grew a new set of business capabilities that subsequently enabled me to advance to more senior technical roles in other organisations.
International Women's Day is, for me, a time to reflect on how women are evolving their roles in society and the workplace. Using positive reflection to motivate and inspire, I like to swap stories about the strong women I have met with my friends and family. The experiences that others share are so valuable. I especially enjoy hearing about challenges overcome and women who go forth boldly!
I think it’s fair to say the challenges have been continual. As the bulk of my career has been consultancy based, for many years I roamed from organisation to organisation as the projects arose. Walking into a new environment you always need to establish your ‘street cred’ and, while it may take weeks or months, simply getting the job done right is the best way to address this. Over the years there's been many incidents where I have experienced workplace bullying, harassment, or other petty behaviours. It has been necessary to develop a thick skin in some regards. There are difficult people in all organisations, and it is best to learn how to deal with them early rather than hope they disappear.
Prioritise a good work life balance. It’s probably true that my early career successes were due to an incredible passion for solving problems that drove me to research and experiment with technology all the waking hours. It wasn't until I was in my mid-thirties that I understood the toll this was taking on my relationships and well-being. I realised that there are things I value more than success in the workplace and there were other things I wanted to do. It was not at all easy to timebox my obsession with work, but ultimately, I'm much happier and more optimistic since I learned to leave my job at the door.
Not long after finishing at university, my grandmother told me to grab life with both hands and make of it what I would. With each risk taken there is a chance of adverse consequence, but it is better to regret what you've done than the things you never tried. As Anais Ni says, "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage"
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