In the lead up to International Women’s Day this year, we asked female leaders within PaperCut about their workplace experiences. We were keen to not only celebrate their contributions, but also recognise women for the challenges they continually face and overcome in the male-dominated IT industry.
Here’s what they had to say.
Has the workplace landscape changed since you started your career?
“The landscape has definitely shifted in the span of my career. I remember watching the first female manager at a large corporation navigate her way into a 32-hour management week role after her first child was born.”Julie Gefroh (Americas Customer Care Team Lead)
“ I do think the landscape is evolving, and a career in IT is more accessible to more people. The issue of gender imbalance, particularly in STEM, has generated more awareness, conversations and actions recently.”Danielle Ko (Product Engineering Delivery Lead)
“It has certainly changed for the better, but still has a long way to go. Being one of the older women at PaperCut, I have seen a lot of changes over the years.”Debbie Augusteyn (Technical Communications Lead)
The biggest hurdle now is that in male dominated cultures, the skills, attributes, and style of women is often not understood or appreciated.
We picked a pack of PaperCutters to talk about women in STEM careers.
What are your challenges as a female leader?
“I think it’s a constant inner struggle to feel confident that as female leaders, our voices are always welcome, valued and seen as equal. There is a lot of negativity in media and our shared history that makes this a struggle. Even though deep down we know our experiences and voices are equal, we constantly have to give ourselves encouragement to speak up.”Julie Gefroh (Americas Customer Care Team Lead)
“Time away from work when my children were young meant that my career was ‘on hold’ for a few years but I don’t feel it’s been a setback, but rather an opportunity for personal growth that now shapes who I am and how I work with and lead others.”Louise Egan (Leadership Team EA)
“It can be hard to know what opportunities might lie ahead of you if you don’t have many female role models to make you think that it’s possible”Laura Paton (Talent Acquisition Manager)
Feeling heard and understood in predominantly male leadership meetings. Being valued for having a unique perspective, and that it won’t always be congruent with how the majority think and feel.”Paula Stupka (Product Engineering Delivery Lead)
How is PaperCut supporting female leaders?
“Promoting International Women’s Day, raising awareness and openness through various forums such as global, slack, ‘ask me anything’. The PC leadership team have openly expressed their support and encouragement as well”Danielle Ko (Product Engineering Delivery Lead)
“Being able to work four days, and flexibility over when that is. Last year, for example, I was juggling childcare, pre-school, and school for my two kids. I worked my four days when it suited, using the time when they were in care to either work from home or do a half day in the office.”Paula Stupka (Product Engineering Delivery Lead)
“PaperCut has amazing opportunities as a leader, regardless of gender. We all complete one unit of an MBA that ensures we’re well prepped for the challenges that come with being a people manager. The flexibility is second to none and there is nothing but trust and respect between my direct manager and I.”Laura Paton (Talent Acquisition Manager)
The more diverse and gender balanced workplaces are, the better we represent the world.
When will you know that gender is no longer an issue?
“When the qualities that women have to offer are valued, recognised, and rewarded equally to those offered by men. Addressing numbers and ratios is only the first step. The biggest hurdle now is that in male dominated cultures, the skills, attributes, and style of women is often not understood or appreciated. Unfortunately, it is still quite common that the only way for women to succeed is to behave like a man.”Debbie Augusteyn (Technical Communications Lead)
“When I see equal numbers of women in leadership or senior technical positions in the workplace, and importantly when I can see women that I can look to as a mentor in executive management roles”Paula Stupka (Product Engineering Delivery Lead)
“I see some pretty amazing young girls out in the world right now! They have the sheer vision and will to make this world a much better place. How will I know that their gender isn’t an issue in the future? If they are given equal education opportunities, and are met at every step with encouragement, mentoring and equal access. If they never hesitate to share their opinion, follow their hearts and take action.”Julie Gefroh (Americas Customer Care Team Lead)
Why do we need gender balance in the workplace?
“We can’t sit back and believe that gender balance will find a way to work itself out. We, men and women, need to make it a focus and work hard to achieve it, together”Laura Paton (Talent Acquisition Manager)
“Regardless of how we evolve as humans, all people bring unique qualities and views. The more diverse and gender balanced workplaces are, the better we represent the world. “Louise Egan (Leadership Team EA)
“In addition to studies showing that gender balance in the workplace creates better/more effective teams, I believe having diversity and gender balance in the workplace keeps us unbiased, generous, open, creative and compassionate”Danielle Ko (Product Engineering Delivery Lead)
From hearing these different experiences from the female leaders here at PaperCut, there was one common theme: having gender balance in the workplace is as important as ever.