Bolstered by the celebration of women’s achievements, this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) theme is “Choose to Challenge.” Since 1911, IWD has been celebrated to raise awareness about women’s equality and lobby for gender parity and coincides with Women’s History Month the entire month of March.
In a year that saw significant challenges across the globe, so much of the impact was felt by women. Female workforce participation dropped to 57% — the lowest it’s been since 1988, according to the National Women’s Law Center. When schools resumed in September 2020 and much of that was remote learning, 80% of the 1.1 million people who exited the workforce were women, signaling a significant step back in the progress that women have made.
As we recognize the impact that COVID has had on the global economy, shifting our focus to encouraging women to be a part of the conversation around workplace challenges and issues is critical.
Women at ZAG
In celebration of this year’s IWD, we rounded up responses from some of the women at ZAG around their experience in technology, their advice, and ways we can move forward by supporting each other in the workforce.
Can you share a time that you felt supported in your role as a woman in technology, whether it was with ZAG or another organization?
“When I first started my career in the IT industry, I knew nothing about the technologies or what the company did besides the little research I did prior to interviewing. Once I started, I was quickly thrown into the fire and felt like I was drinking from a firehose that was never going to shut off. The support I received from our executive team was incredible. They were focused on my career growth as well as development. I’d have weekly meetings with a few of our executives where we would discuss goals both personal and professional. The discussions we had I felt extremely supported as well as encouraged to grow. I quickly moved up the ladder and felt that without their support that wouldn’t have been possible. The support you receive from leadership plays a critical role in success and as I look back I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support and encouragement to constantly evolve. There were many times I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and at the time I did not like it one bit but looking back I appreciate the push because it’s the reason I’ve been successful.”
“I’ve had the great fortune of working alongside women as managers and role models for most of my career. I worked for women who were influential leaders in technology, investment banking, and government – industries often dominated by men. Along the way, these women inspired, mentored, and supported me in my career. They generously allowed me to confide in them when I needed guidance, and their sound advice inspired me to have more confidence and determination. Even though they had little time to spare, they were always willing to share advice, never judging vulnerabilities and helping to define a path to growth. They influenced me as leaders, women, mothers, friends, and advocates. They were smart and strong, but also wickedly funny and real. I sincerely hope that my two daughters will also find a community of women who will work together to propel them all forward in their careers and on their journeys.”
Share a lesson you’ve learned related to being in the technology field.
“It’s not all about tech. Relationships are key in any type of business – including technology. You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you don’t know how to communicate and collaborate with others, it will be a tough road to success.”
What’s one piece of advice that you’ve received that you’ve carried throughout your career?
“I had a female director at a previous job tell me, ‘You have to speak up.’ She further added that I wouldn’t be taken seriously or be talked over until I learned to speak up with authority and confidence.”
Susie Quon, Business Systems Analyst
What are some ways that women can be better supported in the workforce?
“Support should be rooted in being able to see other women in similar roles so that we’re considered less of a “token.” When I am asked to be part of a committee or lead a training session because of my strengths and skillset, rather than as part of a diversity addition. Having women and people of color in influential roles is important. Different perspectives provide different lenses through which policies and standards are filtered. This is important to better understand how a company’s policies and procedures not only affect their workforce but also how the workforce translates those policies, such as feeling empowered and supported or discouraged and marginalized.”
Jessica McGarrity, Customer Support Specialist II
ZAG and #ChooseToChallenge
Like many technology-centric organizations, we’d love to see more women join our workforce. Part of the goal of this year’s IWD initiative is challenging the way we view building the next generation of women and encouraging them to get involved in high-tech jobs, STEM programs, and training in information technology and cybersecurity. ZAG is committed to looking for more ways to recruit women across the IT field.
Interested in joining the ZAG team? Click here to view our available positions.