International Women’s Day 2021 #ChooseToChallenge

International Women’s Day 2021 #ChooseToChallenge
March 7, 2021 Hannah Rowe

On the 8th March we celebrate International Women’s Day. IWD 2021 campaign theme is #ChooseToChallenge.  Collectively we should celebrate women’s achievement and choices, call out inequality and keep striving towards an inclusive world.

We talked to three of our female colleagues to hear their individual stories about being a woman and equality:

Terri Lamerton – Senior Software Engineer

I was 15 when I promised myself I would transition when I was 30 but it wasn’t until I was almost 50 that I decided to start my journey.  I never was good at time management!

It saddens me to see tensions between the various factions in the LGBT+ community itself and also transgender/cisgender women especially when we are all striving towards the same goal of equality.  Together we are greater than the sum of out parts.  We are all fighting similar battles such as no really does mean no, safety on evenings out and the complete lack of pockets in most garments.

The good points of my journey so far easily outweigh the negative parts and I have been largely accepted by all women with love, understanding and compassion.  There are issues I face on a daily basis as a trans-woman but despite all this I would not change who I am for anyone.

Hannah Rowe – Director

At 21, I joined the Royal Navy as an Officer. I was amongst the first group of women who trained and served at sea alongside their male counterparts. It was a huge change for many already serving and we weren’t always fully accepted but any change has to start somewhere. Now the Royal Navy is considered one of the top employers for women. Interestingly some of the most resistance we received was from those serving in what was then the Women’s Royal Naval Service. That skewed feminism is something I have seen time and time again. Women judging other women because they are stay at home mothers or wanting a career. We need to work on equality within our gender as well as within society as a whole. We are powerful together and true feminism means celebrating all that we are, and having the opportunities to be our best selves.

When we started Rowe IT, equality and being heard were two of the key values that underpinned the company.  They reflected my life experience whilst also wanting to empower both women and men to achieve their potential and enjoy their work.  A career in Tech can be a great equaliser.  You are either good at coding or you aren’t (I am not – I just don’t think that way!).  It is not gender specific. My job is to ensure we encourage girls and women to consider a career in software development and to continue to create a culture at Rowe IT which is inclusive and supportive.

Jackie Penny – Associate Business Analyst (Ardent Analysis)

I’ve have been working as a Business Analyst for a good 25+ years, during this time the role has evolved in in an ever moving technical, people and process landscape.  The challenge for me over the years has been multifaceted in growing knowledge, keeping up with technology, but also learning how to listen and speak to people, men, and women alike. Talking their language, ensuring you hear and understand your stakeholders needs. In this sense gender has not been a conscious barrier for me personally, what has been important is ensuring you meet customer expectations, and if possible, exceed it.

I have seen some female friends and colleagues climb the corporate ladder very successfully, others not, and some, like me start up an independent business. I believe in some respects it’s down to whether you want the challenge and drive to succeed in competitive and yes, sometimes single gender dominated environments. Many times, I have sat in a meeting, and I am the only woman present. This seems normal to me and I don’t consciously notice it, though I understand that this could be daunting to a person of any gender if they do not see themselves as being equal.  For me, striving for equality means ensuring the same opportunities are available to people across all gender communities. This is the challenge, and I will happily put my hand up and #ChooseToChallenge to help forge an inclusive world!