International Women’s Day 2022

To mark the occasion of International Women’s Day, we invited our colleagues to sit down and discuss their experiences and thoughts around 2022’s theme: ‘break the bias.’ We focused our discussion on ‘stereotyping;’ by asking ‘have you experienced stereotyping?’, ‘how did you manage it?’ and ‘what learning would you share with others?’ Our discussion group came from several generations and worked across all areas of our company and when asked the question: ‘have you experienced stereotyping?’ there was a resounding ‘yes’ in response. Below we share some stand out quotes.

”Coming from an admin background, people used to think that you’re only good for making coffee and sorting lunches.  I’ve always been confident in my approach to any situation and would rather just point someone in the direction of what they’re after, showing someone where things are and how to do it. I’d encourage people to be confident in their approach, you don’t have to be rude or aggressive but being direct will make people think. You might be quaking in your boots when you come across intimidating situations, but other people won’t know that.”

”In a quarter of a century there’s been slow industry progress, surveying has always been a male dominated profession.  I think things are moving on since the early part of the century as more women come into the profession and influence it, but I am not sad to be nearer the end of my career than the beginning – it’s been a tough ride at times.”

”I’ve learnt to never allow someone else’s thoughts or opinions about you affect you in any way (easy to say, hard to implement).  They have no idea about your life or the things that really shape you as a person on the inside; your morals, character, intellect, empathy, strength, warmth, and overall ability.  If they want to stereotype you or judge you then they are the ones with the problem.  Be yourself with every fibre of your being, you do not need to conform and play ‘small’ or the ‘Good Girl,’ those days need to be behind us.”

”I’ve found myself in meetings where I’m expected to pour the coffee and tea for people, this might be because I’m more junior, but it’s an interesting dynamic when you’re in a group of predominantly males and they assume certain roles for people. I’ve also noticed other occasions where people seem to overcompensate for the fact that it’s ‘male dominant’, in things they say and their actions so they can push that they’re aware of the environment. Overall, the industry is male dominated still, I’m grateful my work environment is balanced, but feel quite sad for other companies when I walk in and feel like a ‘token,’ they’re missing out some amazing people or ideas that come from diversity.”

“I’ve tried to deliberately not fall into a ‘stereotype’ (never be first to pour the tea!). It’s also important to call out bias when you see it, particularly with those who should be setting an example, and to realise you need to check your own behaviour and appreciate the generational differences of experiences as a woman.”

”It’s interesting to hear what stereotyping looks like for women of different ages and at different stages of their careers, most of us have experienced stereotyping of one kind or another but that it was as much about stereotyping ‘roles’ (as in a junior women being seen in a meeting as the admin person or assumed to be the one to pour the coffee) rather than being viewed as a ‘stereotypical woman’ per se. It’s important to make a point about including men in some aspects of the conversation – if we are to be inclusive, then I for one would welcome a male perspective.”

”I definitely experienced stereotyping in my early days of being a Planner, when people would presume I was a secretary for my male manager. I generally found that people were quite embarrassed when they had made the wrong assumption and fortunately my manager was always more outraged than me, so was very quick to correct them. So, my personal view is that it really helps when men validate your experience and step in sometimes.”

As International Women’s Day draws to a close, we plan to continue the conversation with our male colleagues, who, we should add, are the most lovely and respectful bunch of colleagues we could ask for!