Yes, we should feel lucky! Why? Because we’re one of the few industries where the minority group – in this case women – is united, and working together to bring about positive change.
I was having dinner with a few of my girlfriends last week when this realization dawned on me. These were friends from my MBA class. All of them are incredibly bright and successful, working in industries from investment banking through to healthcare, mining, and consulting, to name a few. We got on the topic of careers and work / life balance (a topic we often foray into) and that’s when this issue of the lack of women in X came up.
My one friend works for a Canadian Bank – we’ll let the name stay anonymous. She’s on the corporate credit side, and working 60+ hours with the occasional weekend work. In her group, the number of women drops off significantly after the managerial level. Post-children she said, most women cannot handle the pressing deadlines and the lack of flexibility. She’s afraid of what this means for her own career. If they can’t balance it all, then how will I?
My next friend works for a large CPG firm, as a marketer for their healthcare devices. She’s been working closely with orthopaedic surgeons as of lately, and attending numerous conferences. Medicine is one industry that I would always tout as having a great representation of women, but according to her she can count on one hand the number of women that attend these 500+ people conferences. She can’t seem to understand why. A quick Google search led me to find this article, which identifies lack of mentoring as one of the reasons for the lack of women orthopaedic surgeons.
Finally, my third friend works for a mid-sized consulting firm here in Toronto. Her hours are well over 90+, with weekend work almost a guarantee! Not even six months into her job and she’s already planning her exit. She has no time for extracirriculars, let alone time to spend with her husband. Apart from exhaustion, she is stricken with guilt for never being home. In her Toronto office, there are 30 staff of which 4 are women. Of the 4 women, all of them are either single or with grown up children. It leaves her with slim pickings when it comes to finding a mentor.
After hearing these stories, I asked each of my friends the same question. Who do you turn to in your field for support? They had no answer. Either they haven’t found these elusive women to turn to, or they just don’t exist.
So THANK YOU to all the Girls in Tech ladies for being as passionate about the advancement of women in tech as we are, and for making it a little less lonely when it comes to navigating through our careers.