“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”– Maya Angelou
These are words that NetMotion lives by. And it’s thanks to this attitude that we’ve built a welcoming, inclusive culture where diversity is celebrated, and both men and women feel empowered to bring their best to work.
With International Women’s Day falling in March, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to dedicate this month’s Voices to some of the women who work at NetMotion. We sat down for a wide-ranging discussion that touched on career goals, women in technology, gender roles, and finding ways to encourage more girls to choose a STEM-related education. Here’s just a taste of what they had to say.
Celebrating trailblazing women
During our interviews, we touched on many common themes, but one thread that was particularly uniting among the NetMotion employees was a passion to solve problems and an insatiable sense of curiosity. Regardless of where these women grew up – Eastern Europe, India, Canada or the U.S. – all of them had faced different pressures from their families and from society to conform to an ideal of what they should and shouldn’t do with their education and their career. Fortunately, some were actively encouraged to find their own path and whatever made them happy, while others mentioned having been discouraged from choosing a particular field.
When the topic of career goals came up, it was clear that many of these women have big ambitions. They discussed wanting to lead teams, take on big projects and attain senior positions in the future.
None of these things should sound odd or out of the ordinary, yet when we look at our wider society, there are some eye-opening stats that reveal where women are at today on the road to true equality. Consider this:
- Women make up 50% of the US workforce, but…
- Only 37 of the Fortune 500 companies are led by women. That’s just over 7%.
- The gender pay gap has improved over the past few decades, yet women are still paid around 20% less on average. For Black and Latino women, that gap is 40% or higher.
- A record number of women are now serving in the US Congress, but they still represent a relatively low 27% of the House of Representatives and 24% of the Senate.
That brings us to another one of the themes that was repeated several times during our discussion: the need for more representation. If equity is the goal, then it stands to reason that organizations need to raise more women up to senior levels and make them visible.
We may all be trailblazers in our own ways, but it’s also true that following in the footsteps of others can be far less daunting. For women, that means having role models with more experience or in senior positions that we can look up to and admire. And that’s precisely why we, as a society, need to see more women at every level, whether it be at an organization or even on the political stage. We need these examples of successful women. “I think it’s always inspiring to be in a company where women are in a variety of roles and in different leadership positions. I’d love to see more women in executive level roles,” said Cleo Stannard, a newer member of NetMotion’s customer success renewals team.
“I’ve never worked with any women in senior software engineering roles. It would be cool to see a woman in that role in the future.”Breanne Thibadeau, Software Engineer, Victoria, B.C., NetMotion
And it’s not just in the private sector where this is needed. There are many prominent, male-dominated positions where women have traditionally not had a seat at the table. It’s amazing to think that just now, in 2021, we finally have the first female U.S. Vice President. Politics aside, this is long overdue, and a sign for many women that the times may actually be changing for the better.
“Seeing Kamala Harris become VP was a huge boost for me. Seeing her break the mold of what a female politician looks like really showed me that we can be equals and we can be taken as seriously as our male counterparts. Being ambitious is a good thing,”Marisa Smolka, Senior Marketing Manager, NetMotion
Those traditional gender roles about what a woman can and cannot do are surprisingly engrained in our society. Fortunately, one attitude that seems to be changing is the notion that any roles related to mathematics, like engineering and development, are for men. “When I went into computer science, I didn’t realize there would be so few women. With so few women to look up to, I second-guessed my desire to look for programming roles. I lacked the confidence to go after more challenging roles,” added Breanne.
Nelly Shimarova, an engineer based in New Jersey, had a very different experience growing up in Eastern Europe. “We had a lot of women studying mathematics and going on to a career as engineers. It was actually very common and encouraged. But one of the biggest changes I’d like to see here in the U.S., is a longer maternity leave. That would make women feel much more welcome, without having to choose between family and career.”
Having said that, Elveera Menezes, one of our QA engineers based in Victoria, B.C., commented that she has found personal freedom in North America.
“When I moved here from India, I saw how much more acceptable it is to express yourself. Women are usually expected to do it all – manage their families and their careers in a competitive tech environment. We really need to make it safer and more secure for women to have independence so they can be their own person.”Elveera Menezes, QA Engineer, NetMotion
“NetMotion isn’t perfect,” said Camilla Keenan-Koch, a software engineer in Seattle, “but I am glad that it’s a company where women get promoted. This gives us the chance to move into new roles and new challenges that can stretch our abilities and let us gain new experiences.”
For Rachel Davies, an inside sales representative, the fact that we still have to talk about giving women more representation means that we aren’t where we need to be. “It should be normal for women to do whatever they want. We’re not at that stage yet, but once we’re at a point where we don’t even have to think about it, we’ll know that we’re on the right track.”
“And let’s stop focusing on women’s looks as a way to judge our value. Women should be valued for their achievements. We’re not just mannequins, we’re humans with brains and capabilities. The standard needs to be the same as it is for our male counterparts.”Graziella Perricone, Channel Marketing Manager, NetMotion
Thinking global, acting local
Although NetMotion is a small company, we are confident that we can be a positive agent for change. And we are keenly aware of the enormous potential in the generations that come after us. So, it’s important to start with our education system, and ensure that girls are encouraged to take math, science and engineering classes.
Marisa summed it up well. “I hope my daughter is exposed to more opportunities than I ever had. I’d love her to develop a passion for technology, math and science. We have a chance today to help the girls now who may become NetMotion employees 20 years from now.”
“Sometimes, it just takes one person to believe in someone else. Even if that person doesn’t believe in themselves, having that boost of confidence can make all the difference to see them flourish.”Rachel Davies, Inside Sales Representative, NetMotion
Having it all
“Women can have it all,” explained Dana Solan, enterprise sales representative. “Having an exciting career doesn’t have to come at the expense a family, but it is a balancing act. I’ve come to realize that when I’m in a meeting with potential customers, I may be the only woman there, so I have to make that an advantage. For me that means being very frank about where I’m at. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, I have a three-year-old at home and another one on the way, while holding down a demanding full-time job. Sometimes just surviving through the day can feel like an accomplishment. Just don’t let anyone underestimate what you can do, especially yourself.”
It’s so great to have events like International Women’s Day as reminders of where we are, how far we’ve come, and of course where we want to be in the future. One clear takeaway from our discussion was that we’re not where we want to be, yet. Not as a society and not as an individual company. But we absolutely look forward to the day when it no longer surprises anyone to have a woman in a leadership position.
Education is another big-ticket item that’s very dear to our hearts. It’s so important to normalize the idea of girls thriving in STEM classes and having the tools they need to succeed at whatever profession that may lead them to. The girls we help today may not join the workforce for a decade or even more, but that’s another day that we can all celebrate together!
And with that, we wish you all a very happy International Women’s Day.