A letter to my younger self – Break The Bias
Dear Kayal of 2015,
If you knew then what I know now, IT would have been the degree we chose from day one. The perception that the industry is male-dominated still rings true, but you would not have given this fact so much weight when making decisions about your career path. You were hesitant to make the jump to IT when you felt Science wasn’t your thing (kudos – that was brave!) but you didn’t have to worry so much about managers hiring in their own image as much as you did. Yes, I’ll be honest it still happens but less and less as the world of biases is changing – both the conscious and unconscious.
I wish you had gotten to know the other 2 or 3 girls in your IT classes a bit better. Goodness knows you could have been a real force to be reckoned with then – and we could be now too.
I tell you what though, a huge nod to joining the mentor program for Women in IT – that was a real game-changer and I’m so proud that it is a part of yours, mine, and our pathway. Not only did you see what was possible but we learnt so much about the world of IT, and the career possibilities and addressed some unconscious biases you had yourself. Listening to women from diverse backgrounds who were successful in the IT industry changed your mindset and gave you the confidence to believe in yourself and be more comfortable with seeing your own strengths even if others around you didn’t share similar life experiences.
I know you were nervous about accepting a graduate position at Macquarie Cloud Services but their approach to equality and equity meant you felt comfortable shining. We are so proud you constantly express your culture through your appearance – to see you enthusiastically inform your curious colleagues and then in turn watch them encourage you to never change is priceless.
If there are two pieces of advice I can give you, it’s that you will always have unconscious biases. Hey, I still do, but work on them, question them and train your brain to think differently to see the perspectives of others. Now as a Service Delivery Manager, we have to think differently every day to ensure the outcome delights an array of customers all the time – so we know we have it in us. Secondly, others will also have unconscious biases. They will question and assume based on your gender, your culture, your age and possibly more – be patient with them, articulate how you have made assumptions in the past but are working to acknowledge how that might make people feel. The plight to breaking biases and the achievement of equality and equity is a shared responsibility.
We are all human, we are all learning but from me to you, or should I say you to you, keep going – keep breaking down barriers – those in your head and those ahead and look forward to speaking in another 7 years.