Women at work: What Challenges Remain?

Words by Sebastian Rumore  | Image Credit Oumayma Elboumeshouli

Women have come a long way, but still face challenges in the workforce, said a panel of leaders at the Her Economy International Women’s Day event. The panel, from Slack, Culture Amp, Prime Motive and Willow Urban Retreat, spoke about personal experiences in the workplace and systemic issues that affect women.

Businesses increasingly recognise the value of diversity and the unique experiences women bring, said Stephanie Lau, Customer Success Manager at Slack. The panellists agreed, however, that there is still a noticeable lack of representation at a leadership level. This can lead to women’s ideas being disregarded and their work being undervalued. In the long term, it affects how much women earn in relation to men.

In the tech industry, Dr Iman Yusuf, Lead Site Reliability Engineer at Culture Amp, points out that men still far outnumber women in tech roles, as engineers or developers. “At some conferences, I can count the number of women on one hand,” she said.

Lau, who comes from a more traditional corporate background at Deloitte, says that Slack is a supportive workplace, but agrees that companies in the tech space have room to improve.

The panellists also agreed that a lack of flexible work can be challenging for those undertake the majority of unpaid care work, who are mostly women. Despite remaining challenges the panellists said awareness around issues related to equality and diversity makes them hopeful.

Stephanie Gobbo, who works underneath a mostly female leadership team as a naturopath and nutritionist for Willow Urban Retreat, says that mentoring young women and girls is important. Bronwen Rees, Lead Digital Designer for Prime Motive, highlights the importance of listening to women when they share ideas and discouraging men when they talk over women.

“I’m known for speaking my mind,” she said, but knows that it isn’t always easy. “It does require bravery and it is hard.” Dr Yusuf added that it’s important to support the women above you as well, by praising female  leaders to ensure they are recognised for the good work that they do.

Her Economy’s IWD event was hosted by Slack at their Melbourne office in Carlton.

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