We asked the women of Lucinity to share their thoughts and perspectives, for International Women’s Day 2022, on gender equality and inclusiveness.
Theresa, or Tess for her friends and relations, is the VP of Product at Lucinity — one of three senior management positions held by women.
“My journey to this role was not very straightforward and showcases that your career is not pre-determined by your choice of university degree or your first job but that you truly can create it yourself,” she says. “I studied Business Management in London, and after Brexit I decided to give my life-long passion Computers and AI a shot and got a Master’s Degree in Artificial Intelligence at UCL. After another string of happenstances, I decided to join Lucinity and started out as a Principal Data Scientist, got the opportunity to be a product manager, and shortly thereafter Director of Product Strategy until my recent promotion to VP of Product.”
Tess’ story is not unlike many others I heard talking to the women of Lucinity. Others also took a winding path to where they are now, which exemplifies both the positive of resilience in women and the challenge of pursuing these traditionally male-dominated careers.
As Tess put it: “What I see is that the workplace, generally speaking, is still designed for man, women that want to seriously compete need to acquire or train themselves to be ‘stronger’ in typically male traits such as assertiveness, aggression and to an extent very high confidence (and beware of not being ‘difficult’ just because you are a woman).”
We can only Break the Bias by re-examining the world primarily designed by (and for) men and making adjustments for inclusivity. A famous example is how crash test dummies are modeled after the male physique. Thus seatbelts are inherently tested against a particular body type that doesn’t take others into account. This “blind bias” can ripple into car accidents affecting women disproportionately worse, simply because the safety systems weren’t built for them.
“The workplace for hundreds of years has been a male-dominated space, but now it is time to equalize it so that woman and man can exist both as they are without having to change,” says Tess. “Assertiveness is still key. Even if I were the most knowledgeable person in a call on a specific topic, I would often be talked over or overlooked by my male counterparts, so I decided to return the favor, and slowly but surely the problem subsided. I would like to see more merit-based workplaces where it doesn’t matter how well you sell yourself or how assertive you are.”
When I asked about positive changes she’s seen and experienced, she said, “Young men are raised very well, and we can already see that the younger and up and coming generations do not live under the burden of gender specific roles or extreme biases.”
Tess is right. New generations, along with more diverse and allowing opportunities than ever before, are in a better position to Break the Bias than ever before. But it’s also our responsibility in the previous generations to lead by example.