How We Celebrate International Women's Day in Tech
By Siobhan Carlson
While scrolling through a popular blog site recently, I came across a thread that asked women in tech why they left the industry. As I was reading through the responses, I noticed the comments were all quite similar, even though the people answering were scattered across the world.
Two distinct themes stood out:
- Women found there to be a lack of relatable mentors/managers
- Tech companies can often create unsustainable environments for various identities
There are some stats behind this, too. A survey with Girls who Code found that 50% of women leave tech roles before turning 35.
I have a very different relationship with the industry, so this inspired me to demonstrate the positive side of tech — the side where a company not only values its people but also delivers customized action plans to further develop their skills and career within the tech space.
Content Bloom works diligently to hire the best and our diverse team is the result of bringing in the right person for the role. It’s our team’s fusion of backgrounds that contributes to our overall success, especially when it comes to problem-solving and risk management.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we reached out to the incredibly talented women of Content Bloom to share their insights, accomplishments, and the ways tech has changed their perspective for the better.
What is the best piece of advice you were given in your career and how did it impact you?
Gabbie: Never stop learning and be realistic when you set expectations.
Caitlin: If there is something you want to do, start now. Everything is built in steps, but you must start with the first step to get to the next. It’s helped accomplish many of the things I sought out to do.
Lu: Be proactive! It’s always a good tip in my career. You are expected to act in advance to deal with an expected change or difficulty, most of the time, it’s beneficial to yourself, peers, and your boss as well as the organization.
Shontelle: The best advice I was given was in the form of a joke: “What do you call the doctor who finished last in class? Doctor.”
I was a bit of a perfectionist and struggled whenever I hit blockers, however, my CB Manager Jim has taught me that it isn’t always about finishing first or being best in class. The most important lesson is to remain grounded, focus on understanding the underlying concepts, and always make sure you finish while giving it your best shot. This advice has served me well and was critical in ensuring my success in the CPA program.
Nikita: Live your life, not someone else’s. I remained true to myself and to what I wanted and needed. Don’t carve your own path like anyone else’s and that’s okay. While creating role models to help shape me, I kept myself focused on what makes me unique. Made me more memorable and will differentiate me from my peers.
Morgan: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. My very first co-op placement mentor told me this. She said I’d rather answer a few questions so you can do your work properly than have you sitting around stuck, not getting anything done. Her openness to questions set me up to not be afraid to ask for help and honestly, everyone I have worked with since has always been willing to answer my questions. This advice is true for people at all levels of their career, but especially for those new to the industry when you want to prove you know how to do the job and are worried asking questions will make you look dumb. Asking questions actually shows just the opposite.
Lee: If there’s an open seat at the table, take it. I was working for a large, successful company that trusted my opinion and wanted me to help steer their marketing efforts. It was exactly what you hope for professionally, yet I’d convinced myself that I wasn’t seasoned enough yet, wasn’t accomplished enough yet to be able to deliver what they needed. They were welcoming me to the table, treating me as their equal, and it was just a matter of trusting myself as much as they trusted me.
Catherine: One of my colleagues once told me to step out of my comfort zone. That gave me the encouragement I needed to speak up during a client meeting. Speaking up helps clients to trust you more and seek help from you more often. It made me feel so valuable, especially when working on projects. Sure, it’s challenging but once you step out of your comfort zone it feels great.
Deepika: A piece of advice from a senior that I always adhere to is to constantly be open to new opportunities and flexible enough to adapt to changes.
Christina: A close friend who has also been a mentor said that the best piece of wisdom she ever received from a mentor was, “Some people have a job that feeds their heart, some people have a job that feeds their pocket, and a very lucky few have a job that feeds both.” I feel like so often I have heard advice that is unrealistic and impossible to live up to. It was a simple phrase, but it really gave me permission to let go of all the external ideas that I was trying to live up to that weren’t serving me.
Abby: Don’t wait around for motivation before taking action, because it’s too inconsistent. Rely on self-discipline instead — it’s the stricter road to success, but it’s the only way you’ll see real results.
Siobhan: One of the best pieces of advice that I was given was, “If you’re going to climb a hill, be prepared to die on it.” When faced with challenging circumstances in the workplace, this phrase has always forced me to evaluate what is truly important and if it’s worth expending my energy. There will be lots of pyrrhic victories in your career, just make sure that they are the battles you want to fight. The second piece of advice that I often give is, “be comfortable having uncomfortable conversations.” This advice is particularly important when acting in a leadership capacity.
What has the tech industry taught you?
Lindsay: I believe people have the ability to inspire others to do things they never thought they could. There’s a difficulty in seeing ourselves in spaces or careers that haven’t always been so welcoming, whether that’s for people of color, women, or those living with special needs, LGBTQI+, etc. Women perform vital work in technology every day. Yet their stories often go untold, leaving girls short of visible role models. My goal is to address the notion that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see.’ I want to raise the visibility of women in technology.
Caitlin: Working in the tech industry has allowed me to continue developing the problem-solving and critical thinking skills I learned while working in the visual arts. I believe in the importance of the A in STEAM, as working in tech requires a lot of creativity!
Lu: Working in tech taught me innovation, how to be data-driven, and self-exploration skills.
Shontelle: Working in Tech has taught me, that I might have chosen the wrong occupation! Three degrees and I still got it wrong.
Morgan: Nothing is bug-free. No matter how much you test something, someone somewhere is going to use it in a way you didn’t expect and run into issues.
Lee: Staying still often means being left behind. Having lived a former life in legal marketing, it’s always both funny and incredibly interesting to me how much more quickly things move in the tech space. There’s no time to just sit and watch the world go by — you have to be comfortable in a state of learning and growth to thrive in tech.
Catherine: Problem-solving skills. We are constantly looking for better solutions to solve problems. Become more logical Have the courage to speak up
Deepika: I’ve learned to think more clearly and creatively as a result of my work in the tech industry. I’ve used it numerous times to consider various outcomes of the same event before coming to this decision. Most significantly, I’ve come to understand why it’s critical to keep yourself updated, you need to adapt to the ever-changing environment if you want to be successful.
Siobhan: You will never stop learning!
Abby: Tech is incredibly inclusive. It’s reminded me how important it is to see ‘things’ from various perspectives, especially when it comes to accessibility.
Tell us about a woman that inspires you — why is she an inspiration?
Gabbie: It might sound cheesy, but my mom. Very early on, she instilled in us the work ethic, the professionalism required in the real world.
Caitlin: I am very lucky to have had many amazing teachers who were women, without whom I wouldn’t be where I am today because of their shared knowledge, opportunities, and support. I’m inspired by every one of them.
Shontelle: My mother is an absolute CHAMPION! I’ve learned strength and determination directly from my mother. Both of my parents are powerhouses, but I will never forget growing up seeing my mother going to work during the day then going to classes at night before staying up to study at 2 am. Meanwhile, as a proud mother of 4 she was ALWAYS present for every dance competition, orchestra performance, youth play, choir performance, and every birthday was a celebration.
I saw her work firsthand along with my father to take care of her family, while also making strides towards professional development and also being present for her kids
Nikita: The most inspiring woman to me is my mom. She is an independent lady who has taught me the value of life. She didn’t have the opportunity to fulfill her dreams but is the head of her own life. She never restricts my dreams and inspires me to dream more. Whether it be hard times or good, she has always supported me.
Morgan: I’m going to give two answers to this one. First, a fairly recognizable woman in our industry, Ada Lovelace, is considered the first computer programmer. Not the first FEMALE computer programmer, the FIRST computer programmer, period. She was also a mathematician, which resonates with me because mathematics has always been my favorite subject. Secondly, my mom. She is confident, doesn’t take shit from anyone, and is always there for me and my brother. I only hope to be half the person she is when I grow up.
Lee: A former mentor of mine is an incredibly successful, kind, passionate lawyer. She’s not only great at what she does, but her obvious passion for her work also makes you want to be great at what you do too. On top of that, she’s a mom of 4 – proving that if you can find that delicate balance, maybe we really can have it all.
Catherine: She is one of my high school friends. She has a balance of work-life balance. She will set goals, long term, and short term. Whenever she is working to reach the goal, she is 100% focused and tries really hard to reach those goals.
Christina: Lilly Ledbetter, the activist behind the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in the US totally reframed my ideas of gender and the workplace when I saw her speak in person my sophomore year of college. Seeing someone stand up to discrimination not only for herself but for others who have had the same experiences, who didn’t have the ability to pursue legal recourse, knowing the hardship that will come with that fight, was incredibly moving. The gender employment discrimination bill that resulted from the court precedence and the activism surrounding the case has been a landmark decision that has helped so many women since it was passed in 2009.
Abby: I’m going to keep it local. Caley Dimmock a Halifax-based entrepreneur, who if you have not heard of should definitely check out. She was featured in Forbes at 27 years old! She’s full of great business insights but there is one thing that really stuck with me, and it’s this piece of advice – Surround yourself with expansive people. Your social circles should be like fountains– they flow naturally, fill you up with energy, don’t drain you, and inspire great ideas.
Lu: Definitely Audrey Hepburn because she used her celebrity for good. During her life, Audrey was a human rights activist and supported many causes. She donated to charities such as UNICEF, and her own charity, created in 1994, the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.
Siobhan: I have been incredibly blessed in my life to have been surrounded by so many unapologetically bold women; the powerful clan of women I share family ties, the friends who became family, my classmates through school, I have more women in my life than I can name. I frequently reflect on the idea of “it takes a village to raise a child,” although this statement holds true, it is the network of women who have built me into the person that I am today, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
What advice would you like to give your younger self?
Gabbie: Value discipline over talent, work on your skills, and don’t lose your eagerness to learn.
Caitlin: You never know where life is going to take you, so stay open to opportunities, you never know where they will come from!
Shontelle: Never stop dreaming and never be afraid to take risks. The best moments of my life have always been as a result of either taking a risks or going after a dream. After all, that’s how I ended up in Canada and ultimately how I ended up at CB.
Nikita: Trust my Instincts I don’t worry too much about the decisions I have to make. Don’t try to weigh the pros and cons and follow logic. I just do what feels right. I do what feels right to me and makes me happy. I know what I want. I also take advice from other people. But deep down, I know what I want. I don’t need outside assurances to confirm what my heart knows best. I do what makes me happy.
Morgan: Don’t be ashamed to like mathematics. It will lead you to a career you enjoy. Just ignore the jokes, memes, and everyone else that is hating on mathematics and continues to do what you enjoy.
Deepika: Never be afraid to take risks; whenever the situation calls for it, don’t hesitate to do so. Either you fail or you succeed, but you can never stop trying. In the same way, avoid taking things personally.
Christina: I would tell myself to not try to fit myself into a job or what your idea of a “dream job” should be. There are so many wonderful workplaces and experiences out there that there isn’t any reason to bend yourself to fit a job you think you should love even if it turns out to not be right for you. Siobhan: I really agree with Christina’s sentiments, I spent too long trying to mold myself into the career I thought people expected
Siobhan: I really agree with Christina’s sentiments, I spent too long trying to mold myself into the career I thought people expected me to have, rather than where I wanted to go. Follow the path that YOU want to go..
How does Content Bloom support women in tech?
Caitlin: Content Bloom has a fantastic team of women and non-binary folks who support each other through teamwork and mentorship, so you really feel like you are part of something and supported in the workplace.
Shontelle: Via equal opportunities for professional development. I can really appreciate that at CB, it’s about the quality of your work and what you can bring to the table versus your gender.
Nikita: Challenge: We are challenged with assignments that require us to learn and practice new skills. Connect: We paired with potential mentors and sponsors who provide us with feedback and support. Invest: Formal leadership development opportunities are provided for women leaders focusing on building the leadership competencies needed to thrive in our organization.
Morgan: Approximately 30% of our company is women, and we fill all different kinds of roles. From technical to non-technical, junior to management roles. Everyone has the same salary range based on your role, not your gender and they encourage their female employees to grow their careers just as much as they encourage their male employees. The ability for flexible time off allows us to ensure that our commitments outside of work are addressed.
Catherine: CB supports families and caregivers, and not only hires women but encourages women/everyone to share their knowledge and what they’ve learned during projects.
Deepika: The people at CB have assured me that they would always be there to assist me, help me improve, and help me learn anything new to keep me going and accomplish new milestones in my career.
Is there anything you would like to share with a woman who is considering a career in the tech sphere?
Caitlin: Even if you don’t have a technical background if you work hard and are willing to learn there is so much opportunity working in tech! If you like being challenged and thinking outside the box, tech might be for you!
Lu: If you look at tech news headlines right now, you will probably notice that only about 10% to 20% of industry newsmakers are women. Although, we still can control our own destiny! Earn professional certifications that enhance the visibility of women in tech organizations. It’s also important to Network. Meeting industry experts or leaders to exchange experiences and ideas is crucially important for boosting women’s visibility.
Morgan: It’s not all microchips and hard drives. There are so many different avenues in the Tech industry, not to mention SO much opportunity to be creative. When entering the tech industry, I was shocked at how creative it can be and how much I liked programming. I found it to be the perfect combination of logic and creativity.
Catherine: Don’t be afraid that you are going to be treated differently. There is a lot of support in women’s tech, and you will be a shining star in this field.
Deepika: You will learn, progress, and build a strong professional foundation, there are so many great options!
Siobhan: Careers are flexible and constantly growing. Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet, but also never forget to keep learning new things
Abby: Just because you don’t know how something works, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re bad at it. You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s so important to educate yourself, and there are tons of free resources available.
Women in Tech Resources
- This year’s Women in Tech conference
- Check out Digital Nova Scotia, they offer free information sessions and webinars regularly. You don’t have to be a Haligonian to attend.
- Side note* if you own a Halifax library card you can get LinkedIn Learning courses for free. We’re talking everything tech, from digital marketing, and photoshop, to HTML, and CMS authoring
- Content Bloom blogs and case studies. Shameless plug, but our team works really hard to create articles that share our knowledge with the tech community, and explain high-level technical jargon/implementations in an easy-to-understand way – no gatekeeping here.
We wouldn’t blame you for wanting to work here, it’s pretty great – check out our open positions.
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