Monday 8 March is International Women’s Day. To celebrate the women that help keep DeepCrawl going strong, we asked for their advice and reflections on learning from the past, staying focused on present successes, and paving the way for future generations of women leaders. Here are their thoughts…
Q: What is one thing you would tell your younger self about being a woman in sales?
Emily: Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated or feel less than. Many people in sales fake it til they make it and they aren’t as smart as they think they are. Speak up, ask questions, and challenge people at all levels when appropriate. Your voice is worthy and if you hesitate to make it heard, someone else will fill that space instead of you.
Harriet: To always trust your instinct and go for it. Give everything you do 100% and whether you succeed or not, there’s always something to take away. I was so afraid of failing when I started out that I didn’t take any risks or try anything I thought was ‘out there’. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason so if you do fail, think about what you can take from it and move on.
Maddison: Always believe in yourself. Always work hard. Always work smart. Always appreciate the opportunities that are given to you and make sure you ‘go get’ what you want. You may feel uncomfortable or scared but the only way to overcome that fear is by repeatedly putting yourself out of your comfort zone.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received about being a woman in the workplace?
Monica: That you can always tell who the strong women are in the workplace, they are the ones that are building each other up. Rather than just being about what we can do on our own in the workplace, it’s about how we can learn from each other and how we can help one another succeed.
Maddison: Don’t give up, you will face lots of challenges, lots of rejections but once you put your mind to something you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve. Always ask for feedback and be receptive to it, ask good questions, and reach for the stars!
Q: What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Julia: I graduated uni in 2008, falling right into the last economic recession. It took time for my career to pick up, despite doing all the “right” things (and, frankly, having plenty of advantages).
I worry about how long that recession lingered, plus the fact we are in another right now – plus, the unique ways that COVID has had a regressive impact on women’s economic potential. So we have a generation of bright, active, engaged people who, through no fault of their own, may find it harder to get the education and opportunities that a lot of people before them benefitted from.
They need to be able to try new jobs, make mistakes, and experiment to find the right path for themselves – but it’s impossible when you’re worried about just paying the bills. So what Monica said is especially relevant – we can’t get too comfy, we need to look for ways to help the next-gen succeed.
Q: What do you hope future generations will experience as they enter the workforce?
Martyna: I believe that every woman, regardless of her background, will not be afraid to reach for her dreams. Without fear and limitations, without looking at what the people around them say.
Don’t be afraid of men at work who don’t take you seriously just because of your gender. Show them that we are equal and that we want to be successful not for the very idea of women in business, but because you simply deserve it. I believe in equal rights that a woman will not have to work twice as hard as an equally educated man to succeed.
With respect to the heritage of previous generations take the most valuable conclusions from it and enter the world with a bang!
Q: What are you still trying to learn as you continue on your career path?
Harriet: Balance, always. Especially in these bizarre times, it can be hard to balance your job, learning, and your personal time but it’s so important that you give focus to all 3. It’s very easy to sometimes work to 8/9 pm and justify it by saying it’ll only happen once, even though you know that’s not true. It’s important to also set aside time to read that book that’s been on my list for months, listen to that podcast, or complete the Netflix series that’s been on the watch list since Christmas.
Maddison: It’s extremely important to know when to rest – when you have deadlines/sales targets you can get caught in a bubble of wanting to achieve your goal and this can spill over into working late evenings and even weekends. Always remember to rest, give yourself short breaks so that when you are working you can give 100%.
Q: Do you think there’s a stereotype attached to women in sales?
Emily: Women made up a majority of the earliest computer coders and were responsible for some of the most consequential early tech programs ranging from code-breaking during WWII to sending the first men to the moon. Once seen as a mundane and low-level profession, computer programming became a lucrative sector with great potential for businesses. Then women were pushed out. They continue to be sidelined nearly 80 years later.
The only stereotype that exists today in tech or sales or any other male-dominated sector is the stereotype that women don’t fit a mold of characteristics that are deemed to make one successful. This especially rings true in sales where I’ve heard a variety of reasons for turning down a female candidate in favor of a male. Some of my favorites from past experience include “too calm”, “she isn’t aggressive enough” and even “she doesn’t take care of her appearance”.
By maintaining this preconceived idea that there is a narrow set of characteristics or experiences that “fits” the industry or a specific role like sales, women will continue to be excluded. What history tells us is that women are not only capable and deserving of representation in the tech industry at all levels, but the tech industry has women to thank for laying the groundwork that so many men get to enjoy and profit off of today.
Q: On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Monica: Always be yourself and have faith in yourself. If you can remove any self-doubt, you can achieve what you never thought was possible!
Julia: The division of “hard skills” and “soft skills” isn’t real – it’s a myth with some questionable historic roots. It doesn’t hurt to try learning something that appears intimidating. IMHO, there’s no skill that you either have or don’t; rather, expertise is a spectrum and even entry-level knowledge of a topic is usually helpful.
And it cuts both ways – just because someone can code/do maths/analyze data/whatever, doesn’t mean they’re good at it – and building (great) technology requires tonnes of creativity, empathy, and listening skills. We need to up our own understanding of what skills are necessary to do a job, not only out of a sense of fairness but because we’re trying to build great things and we need people with diverse skill sets in order to get there
Maddison: When you’re young, it’s really tough to decide where you want to go in life and what the best career path for you is. My advice would be to dig deep and find out what you are good at, ask family and friends, think about things you enjoy doing, and think about what drives and motivates you.
Everyone will have different motivators whether that’s recognition, financial, job satisfaction, progression, etc, but think about yours and determine how you will get there. Interview for a variety of jobs to get a feel for different career paths, always ask for feedback, and don’t be afraid of rejection because you are learning and growing, every time someone says no, you are one step closer to your dream job.