World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2022 shows that at the current rate of progress, it will take 132 years to reach full parity. But we all can do something to speed up the process.
Our value code at Beetroot Ecosystem sets out our commitment to providing diversity in a broad sense and gender equality in particular. Improving diversity and inclusion is our strategic direction for the coming years, and we have some numbers to be proud of.
We chose five countries to compare. We asked real women from Ukraine, Sweden, Poland, Bulgaria, and Moldova — where Beetroot or Beetroot Academy operate — to answer three questions and inspire other women to have a career in tech despite all the challenges. And the challenges could be pretty impressive. Just take a look at this comparison chart first:
Today, it is difficult for me to single out a person who motivates me. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, I have been inspired by all Ukrainian women, who, by their actions, prove the unsustainability of the pseudo-traditional myth of a woman as a keeper of home comfort, in fact, a creature who is not able to take care of even her own life and needs constant male supervision. Ukrainian women defend their homeland with arms, work, search for and buy the necessary equipment, medicines, and uniforms all over the world, participate in the development of complex software systems for the army, distribute tons of humanitarian aid, weave camouflage nets, and make trench candles from cat food cans, and take care of themselves, their families, and strangers who find themselves in difficult circumstances. I am really proud to live at the same time as these women, to know them, and to see how Ukrainian women not only have the right to equality in declarative terms but successfully realize it in all spheres of life.
If colleagues or potential employers are not ready to accept a woman as an equal participant in certain processes, you often don't even know about the missed opportunities: you simply won't be invited for an interview, won't be involved in the discussion of a new project, etc. Clear cases are mostly related to positive discrimination, when a woman is given certain unsolicited “advantages” for which she is supposed to be grateful: to make concessions, not to defend her rights, not to realize her ambitions. A striking example of this is conscription in the army, which is used in almost every debate about the need to continue the fight for women's rights as an argument in favor of the statement “women have already received all the rights they need, and now they are trying to get undeserved advantages.” The only recipe I know to combat this in the professional sphere is to ask myself every time: “Does this attitude apply to male colleagues? Can they also take advantage of this opportunity?” If the answer is “no,” you should refuse such “gifts” in an acceptable manner, without provoking a conflict, to avoid putting yourself in a dependent position.
“Buy yourself some comfortable shoes!”. At first, this advice was literally about shoes – I lived most of my life with the idea that “a woman should decorate the world with herself,” which means constantly wearing makeup and beautiful (albeit uncomfortable) high-heeled shoes. Coupled with her love of hiking and traveling, heels gave her the predictable result of rapid fatigue and many minor injuries. Buying my first pair of sneakers in my size, which I used to be ashamed of because a “real woman” should have a foot slightly larger than a child's, truly turned my worldview upside down. Since then, in any business, the first thing I check is whether I have the “comfortable shoes” to go the distance and, if I'm not comfortable, what I can do to get rid of this discomfort. Usually, you must try to eliminate the imposed restrictions and allow yourself to be as effective as possible, but it's worth it in most cases!
I greatly respect women like Ada Lovelace, Marie Curie, Katherine Johnson, and Hedy Lamarr, who just did what they were told they could not do.
The major barrier for me was that I was told I couldn't go to architectural high school. Then I can't study Informatics or electronics at university because these things are not for a woman, according to my parents. This is still a major barrier for lots of girls in Bulgaria. It cannot be overcome easily. I didn't get lucky as a high schooler and studied accounting, but I got a bit lucky and studied Informatics at university. Pure luck. The other barrier for women in Bulgaria is the disrespect they face daily about their work and efforts. Now, I'm just excellent at my work; that's how I overcome barriers.
To be kind, to have in mind that everyone faces their own struggles I know nothing about, so I should be respectful and listen more. When I write, it sounds like I saw it in some graffiti somewhere, but it's helping a lot.
The woman that inspires me the most is my grandma. She's the toughest person I know. Since her childhood, she experienced a lot of headwinds in her life, but she never gave up, and she always looked for positive aspects. She has a strong character, and to some people, she may seem cold. I really look up to her and try to be as strong as she is to overcome all obstacles in my life.
I've never experienced any challenges in my career due to being a woman. But my career history is very short, since I graduated from university only last summer and started working professionally recently. I hope that I'll never face any challenges because of my gender.
The most important piece of advice I've been given is that giving a chance to things or people that don't convince us from the beginning might turn out interesting. And even if we didn't like it after all, at least we've tried.
Lately, I find myself inspired by the women who could make it in politics, considering the complicated and tense political situation worldwide. Especially, I admire Ursula von der Leyen, who could become – by her power of will, ambitions, and fidelity to her own principles – the most powerful woman of the present world, the President of the European Commission. Also, I deeply admire the fact that besides her career, she is a heroic mother, having raised seven children. That said, this woman has bright and strong intentions for a peaceful and happy future – her motivations are her children, grandchildren, her nation, and all the consistent work and values she promoted and developed through the years.
I never experienced obstacles in my career path, especially due to gender. Quite the opposite – I had been encouraged and welcomed in teams where men predominate because, from what I learned, including women, especially in IT, creates a healthier and beneficial psychological climate in the team.
The most valuable piece of advice I learned from my husband is that consistency plus discipline creates the path.
I have been inspired by many people in my career, both women and men. Surprisingly for me, some of the most lasting inspirations have been from younger female colleagues — at least I have been lucky to work with people who question the status quo, who stand up for themselves, and who do not shy away from being leaders.
I have been fortunate to be in the Nordic environment, which is known for its high level of equality and tolerance. Not obstacles so much as the occasional “being underestimated” – this is easy to overcome if you have mature leaders who trust in you and give you a fair chance.
Give yourself a promotion in the head!
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