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8 Mini Interviews on 8th of March IWD

At Humblebee we're lucky to have so many talented and diverse co-workers! For International Women's Day we bring you mini-interviews with 8 of our female bees to share their thoughts and insights on some important questions.

Irina Balog

Irina Balog

Kate Buketava, UX Designer

What does IWD mean to you?

- Recent years have been marked by a progress in the cause of women's equality. In the United States, for the first time in history, a woman of colour became vice president, a five-woman coalition government was formed in Finland, northern Ireland legalised abortion, Sudan repealed a law that dictated in detail how women dress and behave in public etc. But according to UN Women, the coronavirus pandemic has wiped out 25 years of fighting for gender equality. Lockdowns have forced women around the world to do more housework and miss out on career and educational opportunities. I believe that International Women's Day is a chance to remind the world once again of the need for gender equality and draw public attention to this problem. International Women's Day for me is about tenacity, dignity, hope, collaboration, appreciation, respect and empathy.

What advice would you give your younger self?

- Stand for yourself. Nationality, gender, skin colour, religion, language you speak, principals you have, things you believe in don't make you different, they make you YOU. Invest in education. Everything you've learned will help you build the future you want. Spend more time with your family, because this time is priceless. Don't be stressed and disappointed when something goes wrong. Learn from it and try again - it might be painful sometimes, but it makes you stronger.

What advice would you give to young women entering this profession/industry?

- I would like to say that it's never late to start. It's advice not just to young women, but to everyone who decides to become a designer. Find people who inspire you, a teacher who will lead you through all the thorns and companies with values close to yours. Don't be afraid to ask questions and make mistakes, be curious, resolute, and remember that you are the one who decides where and who to be. Always. This world needs to have new great professionals so don't be scared to let the world know that you are looking for opportunities and might be the one. Continuous improvement of skills and persistence will help to achieve all your goals.

Elnaz Abolahrar, Developer

What can companies do to help improving gender equality in the workplace?

- Invite women to the meetings where decisions are being made and make sure they are heard!

What can we all do to support equality in the workplace?

- Dare to question your bias and work toward uprooting them!

What advice would you give to young women entering this profession/industry?

- Believe in yourself, don't compare your achievements with anyone but you and do not be intimidated by anybody. Last but not least, to any fool who says girls are not as good programmers, tell them that the opposite has been scientifically proven so they can either educate themselves or keep their ignorant opinion to themselves!

Lovisa Stockman, UX Designer

What does IWD mean to you?

- I consider it as a day to acknowledge the emerging issues and situations women around the world have to deal with in their everyday life. But IWD is also a day to highlight progress that has been made and to raise inspiring individuals who spark us moving forward.

Which women’s ‘cause’ needs to be challenged and changed, first?

- A woman's right to her body.

Who was/is your role model and/or leadership mentor?

- There are of course tons of leaders and role models to look up to, but in the end I always think of my grandmother as my number one role model. She passed away a few years ago, almost 100 years old. She was the sweetest most kindhearted person but also extremely independent. If I´m like her when I'm old I would be really happy!

Elin Eriksson, Business Designer

Which women’s ‘cause’ needs to be challenged and changed, first?

- Most causes are of course intertwined but to me equal pay for equal work would be the place to start. I mean, it's simply mind blowing that this is still a cause at all! Women have higher education, but lower wages. And every month women get an average of 3.700 SEK less than men. That is 44.400 SEK per year. Things are getting better but it is taking too long. At the rate we are moving now, we will have equal pay for equal work in 21 years (the year of 2043).

What can companies do to help improving gender equality in the workplace?

- 50% women on company boards! I think we sometimes hear company leaders express things like "we are making sure that at least 50% of our staff are women". However, we need to make sure to also have equality over all positions; on the board, in all different management levels and in all roles.

What women-related myths or taboos need to be broken?

- I think we still struggle with women being described and viewed as "too sensitive" when addressing pressing matters in the workplace.

Olivia Chalandon, UX Designer

What do you believe can be done to address gender stereotypes?

- Discussing and sharing experiences! I think that we all have experienced gender stereotypes in one way or another and by sharing these experiences we can help each other prepare and tackle similar situations in the future. Many of us are familiar with the saying "Life is not fair - get used to it". Yes life might not be fair but we CAN do something about it.

What women-related myths or taboos need to be broken?

- Women are ruled by their emotions. When faced with a decision we are unable to think rationally and we are therefore not suited for leadership. Totally untrue. Women are great leaders! And having emotions is not gender specific nor something negative.

What advice would you give your younger self?

- This might seem like strange advice to give to my younger self but... Do not listen to the advice you will receive on how to best navigate a male-dominant field! I was told that if I wanted to succeed and be respected I should try to "act like a man", be bold and loud, show dominance, ambition and rationality. I quickly realised that this was never going to be me, nor was it traits I looked up to. I think it’s important to embrace differences in behaviour. Get to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses and be you!

Helen Arnold, Head of People & Culture

What does IWD mean to you?

- It's a day when we should celebrate the greatness of women, our differences and strengths.

Who was/is your role model and/or leadership mentor?

- My previous boss was very good at involving me in everything from strategy to staff matters, great at giving feedback, encouraged me to further develop in my role and listened to my thoughts and ideas. That made me feel like a valued member of the team and showed me how a great leader can be.

What advice would you give to young women entering this profession/industry?

- Believe in yourself, communicate clearly, ask for feedback and celebrate often!

Izabella Hertel, Developer

Which women’s ‘cause’ needs to be challenged and changed, first?

- That pregnant women in the workforce are not always treated well. I know of women who have been fired because they got pregnant, even I've had comments from previous managers saying they hope I choose not to have kids. As a woman, you should not be afraid of having or starting a family.

What can companies do to help improving gender equality in the workplace?

- Think about what environment you allow in the workplace, even little things may become big when they are many. For example, us developers are often called "the boys/guys", and if you're the only woman in the group you can start to feel invisible. Even if it may seem like a small, innocent comment, it can become quite straining when you hear it on a daily basis that "the guys are doing a good job".

What advice would you give to young women entering this profession/industry?

- Stand up for yourself and dare to claim space!

Irina Balog, Product Manager

What do you believe can be done to address gender stereotypes?

- So much! It's important to understand that gender stereotypes are based in the existing social structures we all live in and these are constructed by us, i.e. not set in stone or "truths". Thus, being aware, open minded, and questioning different gender stereotypes is beneficial and could drive social change.

What strategies can work well to promote inclusion in the workplace?

- To be aware that we all have our biases, that people do tend to hire others similar to them and that this, while not necessarily a bad thing, makes inclusion more difficult. Being inclusive doesn't always come naturally to us, but rather, this is something we all must strive towards and work with consciously. For instance, when hiring new colleagues make sure you have different people in the interview process who get to meet and talk to them and provide their input. When forming different teams, strive towards making them as diverse as possible. When providing spaces to discuss things, such as team meetings, try to make sure that it's not always the same people who get to talk all the time. Listen and value everyone's thoughts, feedback and input and make sure everyone feels seen and heard.

Who was/is your role model and/or leadership mentor?

- Hands down: my mum! She has always inspired me throughout my entire life and is one of the strongest women I know. From being born with a heart-disease, to fleeing from dictatorship alone in her 30's in order to provide a better life for my sister and I, having to start over from scratch, learning a new language, culture, earning two master degrees and working her way up into various leadership roles. She has had to overcome so many difficulties and has sacrificed so much, yet still has remained positive. She's always there to support and push me forward. I wouldn't be where and who I am today if it wasn't for her.



Thank you all so much for sharing and Happy International Women's day!

Written by

Irina Balog

Product Manager

irina.balog@humblebee.se

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