Celebrating IWD at 93digital

Author - Sasha Suzdaleva

Posted By Sasha Suzdaleva Marketing, Events & Community Manager

Date posted 8th Mar 2021

Category Blog

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To celebrate International Women’s Day, we decided to speak to the women of 93digital to find out what drives them. To raise awareness of the issues that matter to them, we spoke about what the #choosetochallenge theme means, who inspires them and advice that they would give to their younger selves.

Roz, Digital Project Manager 

The theme this year is #choosetochallenge what does it mean to you?

Going into IWD 2021 I am going to be challenging myself to ensure that I use my voice in meetings and speak up. The recent story of the Tokyo 2020 chief saying that women talk too much at meetings reminded me of Sue Montgomery’s knitting project back in 2019 which visualised the gender gap in speaking in meetings. I recognise that I can sit back and let other people talk for me, and I will be challenging myself to battle against that tendency.

Can you tell us about a role model that inspired you in your career? 

Well, on a very personal level, seeing Meghan Mcinerny keynote speech at Deliver Conference back in 2018 was really motivational. I vividly remember finding my job really hard at that point. But seeing a woman I could relate to discussing skills I had was eye-opening and inspiring. Here’s a video of her speech.

In terms of making me want to succeed in a wider context and pushing my expectations of myself, Dame Stephanie Shirley is an incredible role model. She arrived in the UK as an unaccompanied child refugee, and went on to found her own business (in the 60s) which actively recruited and employed professional women with dependents. Her model of offering part-time employment and development of new techniques to manage her business on this basis was ahead of its time. Her Ted-Talk – ‘Why do ambitious women have flat heads?’ taught me so much – and that you can deliver every project ‘on time’.

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Don’t undervalue your skills. Just because things come easy to you doesn’t mean that they come easy to everyone.  For me, my softer skills are my strength and I laboured under the pretence that everyone could do what I do for way longer than I should have.

Fenella, Digital Designer

What does this years #choosetochallenge theme mean to you?

I think this theme emphasises the ongoing gender stereotypes that have been prevalent in the workplace. To a certain extent this has improved a lot and workplaces are a lot more inclusive. However, a gender bias still exists, for example men are more likely to be in leadership or higher positions within a company.

This theme creates more awareness around this which works towards eventually eliminating these gender stereotypes globally. I also think it is a great opportunity to be able to celebrate women’s achievements that demonstrate women’s capabilities are equal to those of men.

Can you tell us about a role model that inspired you in your career? 

A female role model of mine who has inspired me in my career so far is Susan Kare. Kare is an iconic graphic designer who is best known for her interface elements and typeface contributions to the first Apple Macintosh.

Her design principles are meaning, memorableness and clarity which I have aspired to implement in my own design work. I find it particularly inspiring, how Kare, when working on Macintosh, chose to design to challenge the conventions of how computers were seen as cold and intimidating. Instead, she created an interface that would become more user friendly. Her main aim was to humanise it, make it seem less like a machine, and give it “a smile”.

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

I’d say explore all potential options, research and don’t narrow down your options too soon! There are so many resources out there that can help you choose what career path you wish to go down and later down the line will also help develop your skillset further. 

Joining communities is also a great way to network and find out about potential design bootcamps or upcoming training conferences. I am a part of design communities that I wished I’d joined sooner, as it’s great to meet like minded people from around the world, sharing experiences and advice.

I think the most important message for young women is to always believe in yourself and your abilities, no matter what gender, you can have the capabilities to do whatever you wish to do or aspire to be! 

Hollie, Digital Project Manager 

What does the #choosetochallenge theme mean to you?

I think it’s important not to put constraints on yourself because of your gender. From a young age women are typically taught to behave in a certain way according to what society deems normal or acceptable. It’s so important to instil confidence in young girls and empower them to make decisions based on what makes them happy and what they are passionate about and blow gender stereotypes out of the water. 

Who is the role model that inspired you in your career? 

I’m not sure there has been one particular female role model in my life. I think any female who treads a different path and goes against the grain despite naysayers and potential dangers truly inspires and motivates me. From the women of science (who don’t get as much attention as males) like Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie to female activists who risked their lives like Malala Yousafzai and Emmeline Pankhurst. 

What career advice would you give to your younger self? 

I would say don’t feel like you should have all the answers by the time you leave school about your chosen career path. Sometimes you need to go experiment with a few different things before you find something that sticks. If you find something that interests you which is in a typically male dominated industry, stick to your guns and follow your chosen career path and find female role models who have trodden a similar path, as they will no doubt give you inspiration and motivation to keep pursuing your dreams.

Jodi, Marketing Assistant 

The theme this year is #choosetochallenge what does it mean to you?

#choosetochallenge means that everyone has to make a decision. They need to choose if they will continue tolerating/supporting systematic inequality or if they want to stand up to fight against it and change the course of history. 

Can you tell us about a role model that inspired you in your career? 

For years, my mum juggled a demanding career with demanding kids. As a solo parent, she exceeded in senior roles while never once declining my phone calls. She was a mother first and a boss second, the way all women should feel it can be! My mum inspires me to be myself and stand tall, unapologetically. 

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Advice I would give to myself as a fresh graduate: Try everything that comes your way, and you’ll know if it feels right. Be yourself! Stay unique, be bold, stand out. 

Tara, HR Director 

The theme this year is #choosetochallenge, what does it mean to you?

It’s important to position yourself with not being a female in mind, your person is at least an equal of anybody else that you’re talking to. The key is forgetting that someone might perceive you as a female first. Instead, it about having grown up conversations, where it’s two adults talking, not woman to man or man to woman.

Can you tell us about a role model that inspired you in your career? 

A female role model that inspires me is my friend, who works as a lawyer in a very male dominated environment – day to day she stands up for women’s rights, with many of her cases focused on domestic violence – she makes sure that women are protected.

She is independent, driven and strong. What she has been through and the way she carries herself, has helped to drive me further, and see things in a different way. It’s Important to have an open relationship with trust that can push you both forward. 

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

The advice that I would give to myself is to have a lighter touch with everything and don’t get caught up in the now. Stop obsessing over detail, let things wash over you a little more, and have the confidence to go more quickly. 

Ellie, Project Manager 

The theme this year is #choosetochallenge, what does it mean to you?

As a woman, it can sometimes be the easy option to nod and agree out of fear of appearing problematic whilst male counterparts are labelled as ‘ambitious’ for the same behaviour. #choosetochallenge helps reminds us that this doesn’t have to be the case and we can, collectively, rise above this outdated way of thinking and behaving.

Can you tell us about a role model that inspired you in your career? 

I am fortunate to have a lot of strong, successful women in my family that have always been a great reminder of what women can achieve. 

More specifically, my cousin, who was a successful Marketing Manager at the time, allowed me to shadow her as a teenager. Seeing her drive and success inspired my educational path from my A-Levels in Business Studies, to my degree in International Business Management, and onto my career in Project Management.

Now a successful business owner, she still provides me with motivation and acts as a constant reminder as to what women can achieve when they believe in themselves.

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

The main message I would love to be able to give my younger self, is to have confidence in what you are saying. I have definitely been guilty of trying to soften my words with too many ‘sorrys’, ‘justs’ and ‘I thinks’. This is something I continue to look to improve in my day-to-day communications but it is definitely something I wish I had recognised sooner.

Sasha, Marketing, Events & Community Manager 

The theme this year is #choosetochallenge, what does it mean to you?

I think the first step to creating a more equal world is to be aware of the biases that can drive inequality – both our own, subconscious biases the reflection upon which might feel uncomfortable, and to pay attention to the biases of those around us. The second step is to challenge these biases through conversation. The #choosetochallenge theme reminds us to do just that. It’s important to ensure we don’t become complacent in our own minds and through our actions. We need to continually challenge our own behaviour and the behaviour of those around us to create a more equal world.

Can you tell us about a role model that inspired you? 

My mother. Born into communism and grown up in the Soviet Union, she graduated with a degree to teach Russian and a job secured for her by the government. Soon after, the Union collapsed, and living in one of the Baltic countries, anything to do with Russia became deeply unpopular.

Eventually, in her late 20’s and a small child at hand, she decided to start over in London. Thrown into a new culture, a new language and a huge city, I can’t imagine how tough it must have been. Yet, despite the odds and through pure grit and determination, juggling work in the day, language classes in the evening, and her studies to become a nurse in between, she made it. Thanks to her work, I was able to get a great education and secure a job I love – I will forever be inspired by everything she has gone through to get the two of us to where we are. 

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

It’s ok not to have it all figured out right now. 

Through school, sixth form and university, it can increasingly feel like you need to know what you want to do in the future and decide who you want to be. But it’s ok not to know – you’ll figure it out with time. Follow your intuition and go for the opportunities that are presented to you – you’ll find your feet and eventually start to understand where you’d like to go.

Although not featured in the post, we also want to celebrate our Head of UX and Design, Nicola and our Finance Director Gemma both of whom are truly inspirational and are a huge part of the 93digital team.

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