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Women of Groundswell

Avatar photoGroundswell Team
On , In Culture

This International Women’s Day we wanted to highlight some of the amazing women who make up Groundswell. The theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge so we have asked them what it means to be a woman in tech and the challenges that come with being in a male-dominated tech industry.

Dianne Lee-Hansen

Resource Manager

Who is your most memorable female mentor? 

I don’t really have one.

How did you get into tech? 

I have been in the Tech industry for over 20 years now and fell into it by accident. I was putting myself through university and working full time. I was doing temp work and was hired as a QA for eight months. With that experience, I eventually started doing QA full-time. I then moved to become a Business Analyst and Project Manager (PM). With this background, I became a Resource Manager about eight years ago.

What challenges have you faced being a woman in tech?

Early in my career, I was passed over for a promotion because I had just returned from Maternity Leave. I was up for a more senior PM position, and the other candidate was male. We had similar backgrounds, almost the same experience, and similar work ethics.  I was told because I was away for a year, he had more interactions with the current stakeholders, so it was a better fit.  It was very frustrating, and I was afraid at that time to challenge because the culture was very different at that time than it is today.

As a working mother, especially when my children were very young,  it was sometimes hard to have a good work-life balance. It was long hours in a fast-paced environment. I felt I had to keep up with all my co-workers and be as available as they were, or else I would not get the same opportunities as someone without children.

Even if men have children, they are still viewed differently than women. Women are still seen as primary caregivers on top of working. Women have always had to prove they are just as capable as men but are all the while usually juggling more. I do see a change and hope for further change in the tech industry. Currently, there are so few women as developers that they are now being fought over, which is nice to see. Still, I would love to see more women, specifically in Executive levels.

How has being a woman given you a unique perspective in tech?

As women, we tend to take on multiple roles/jobs and try to do everything on our own. As I matured and got older, I found my voice to always ask for what I need to ensure my life is as balanced as possible. The industry is changing, and companies are willing to invest and support women and enable them to thrive in this industry. Women bring a lot to the table, and companies are recognizing this. It is great to see how much more support and encouragement is out there today.  It would be nice to one day see that the Tech Industry is a field that is equally chosen by both men and women.

Soumali Ganguly

Pre-Sales Manager

Who is your most memorable female mentor? 

My most memorable female mentor was my first manager in Canada, Seema Nandy, who I had the good fortune of working with at my first job in the country. She was from a similar ethnic background as me, who moved to Canada as a young adult and was one of the top leaders in the tech space in this firm. What was great about her is that she led by example, and that was the best kind of coaching and mentorship that I could have received. She prioritized giving timely and effective feedback, led without authority, and used humor and empathy extremely effectively to bring people together. She taught me a lot about assimilating into a new work culture, developing my brand, and confidence to raise my voice.  As a top leader, she managed one of the firm’s most significant accounts, led a large team, and traveled every week from Toronto to Kamloops while seamlessly taking care of her family with two young kids back home. To see her in this position was the representation I needed. Seeing her manage everything with so much ease and grace gave me a lot of confidence and hope as a fresh and ambitious graduate.

How did you get into tech? 

I have always had a strong interest in science and technology and loved problem-solving. My dad was an engineer, so growing up, many of our day-to-day discussions revolved around science and how it played a big part in our everyday life. I have grown up in a generation that has found itself to be smack in the middle of the so-called 4th industrial revolution and seen how technology has been an enabler in all aspects of our lives. I certainly wanted to be a part of enabling and pioneering that change. Growing up in India, technology was a booming industry with excellent career opportunities and growth prospects. Joining tech was a very conscious decision for me and I have certainly reaped its benefits in my personal and professional growth. I think it is a fabulous industry for women to be in and one where they can provide a lot of value. I hope more and more women will join us in tech!

What challenges have you faced being a woman in tech?

In a career spanning over 10 years in tech, I have overall had great experience and felt very supported and encouraged. While we have made big strides in bridging the gender gap there is still a long way to go. Some fields are still quite unbalanced and it can sometimes be uniquely challenging to be in a male-dominated field.

I spent a large part of my tech career in a traditional consulting setting where I was on the road traveling Monday to Thursday to different client locations with my project teams. During those days I often found myself as the only woman in the team, which came with its own challenges. When you are far away from home for prolonged periods of time, it can certainly get a bit lonely. Social and outside of work activities often get dominated by the interests of the majority, which were my male colleagues. However I realized that it was something that  I could easily resolve by bringing more awareness to it and speaking up. For anyone in a similar situation, I also want to emphasize the importance of finding a peer set outside your day-to-day work through associations or the broader firms. It’s important to find like-minded allies that you can lean on for support and nourish those relationships. This experience definitely taught me the importance of being confident about my worth and making my voice heard.

How has being a woman given you a unique perspective in tech?

I think any organization would greatly benefit from the diversity of thought, perspective, and culture. It has been statistically proven that high-gender diversity companies deliver better returns and have recently consistently outperformed less diverse companies. As a woman in tech, I find myself to be less driven by a single goal. I often find that women are wired to be multidisciplinary and do several things at the same time. As a result, women tend to initiate more collaborations which helps in the overall holistic growth and performance of an organization. This growth has certainly held true for me in my career where I have worked with various technologies and industries. Even within those firms, I took on many responsibilities out of my own interest in parallel to my day-to-day work.

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