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SPARKLINE & FRIENDS - CELEBRATING IWD 2021

March 8, 2021

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements. From political to business, religion to sport -  women in all spheres across the globe are excelling and this deserves to be recognized. 

The day is now placed on 8th March, every year, but has actually been celebrated since the early 1900s. Usually IWD is marked around the world with art performances, talks, rallies, networking and marches - but now we are living in a COVID-19 world, things are going to look a bit different this year! But the pandemic has brought its own unique challenges for women - from job losses to the pressures of homeschooling - so having the time to take a moment for IWD this year should be important, for everyone. 

At Sparkine, we believe that an equal approach for all can help grow businesses but also unifies communities and allows people to feel included - part of something. Yes IWD does take a focus towards women, but it is also about having male allies - contributing to any position of change that we want to execute for the better. 

This IWD 2021 theme of #ChooseToChallenge, recognizes the need to call out gender bias and inequality throughout. With this in mind, we asked four Women in tech (in a variety of job roles within the industry!) how they find working in a traditionally “male dominated” space and how this year’s IWD objectives will help identify their own actions to move forward within their role and the industry. 

                                            Anissa Ananda, Technical Integrator Consultant at Sparkline 

Hailing from Indonesia, Anissa, has worked within the tech space since moving to Singapore in 2016. Before joining Sparkline, she worked as a Web Developer and Digital Marketing Executive, helping Singaporean SMEs in a range of industries to support with their data-driven strategies,  

Tell us about a time in which you felt you had to challenge a situation within the workplace and why did you do so?

In my previous job, I had to help start-ups run digital marketing projects. I felt like I had to do way too many tasks all at once. I felt I had to speak up to manage the situation effectively, but I was scared because I didn’t want people to think that I’m incompetent or incapable of doing my job. But I decided to overcome my fear and speak up. I had to be realistic by helping myself first in order to be able to help my director and his clients. 

How would you advise others to do so and to know when is the right time/situation...is there always one?

Try to think constructively before you have your discussion. Try to PAUSE, reflect and take some time to assess the situation first. Organize your thoughts, detail of the problems and the solution. Don’t be disappointed if your team does not agree with your solution, at least people will clearly understand your situation and objective. 

To tell you the truth, I don’t think there is a right time/situation to challenge a situation because it will never be a smooth and comfortable process. There will always be disagreements and you have to be open to them. 

Why do you think as women, historically speaking perhaps, we have not been so vocal in challenging the status quo?

I feel lucky that I was raised in a society where both men and women had the opportunity to pursue their passion. So I never felt the need to ‘challenge the status quo’. Unfortunately, I know some women who live in environments where they must do certain kinds of jobs, act passively or get married/pregnant at a certain age. I think their attitude towards that situation might have changed overtime. Perhaps the older generation would have hard hard times to speak up because sexism was so dominant in their lives. Even some younger women who I know tend not to speak up because they feel afraid of being ridiculed or even dismissed by their society or family. I completely understand that because humans just want to be accepted.

Why...why should we challenge, why should we call out?

I don’t think this International Women’s Day aims to celebrate just women. I think this marks the importance of diversity. It’s a reminder for us that everyone, each man or woman is unique and has the capability to pursue his/her passion and contribute to their society. I think we should call this out because both men and women deserve equal opportunity to succeed. 

I believe that diversity is important for businesses too. I noticed many leaders achieved success because they value diversity. I’m blessed that my current CEO reminds us about the importance of diversity at work. My former CEO also told me that discriminating and stereotyping someone could make you lose opportunities to connect with wonderful people who can bring values into your lives

Finally how do you think everyone, men and women, can play a part in such a movement in our daily life?

  • Don’t stereotype. Nobody likes to be labeled.
  • Don’t be afraid to follow your passion
  • Focus
  • Be flexible, but stick to your principals 

Lastly, believe it or not, listening to your mother (or dad or any nurturing figure) would shape how you deal with work and the outside world. I never thought that her constant ‘nags’ about etiquette and to get me to do small chores, make the bed every morning, wash dishes after dinner, etc. — would help my work within organizations and make achievements.

                                       Charmaine Galias, Technical Integrator Consultant at Sparkline 


Charmaine (aka Maine to us!) dived right into Web Development and Android Programming  after graduating at Cavite State University, Philippines. Maine joined Sparkline in 2018, where she has supported our APAC clients with integration projects with a focus on automation and mobile solutions. 

Tell us about a time in which you felt you had to challenge a situation within the workplace and why did you do so?

I became a part of this company where some employees were very used to manual processes and were very conservative towards automations. Therefore, being an IT professional, I can clearly see where and what needs to be improved. And that is transitioning from the manual process to an automated process, introducing the benefits it can bring and help the organization stay on the path to continuing growth.

How would you advise others to do so and to know when is the right time/situation...is there always one?

Challenging the status quo doesn't necessarily mean that there is something wrong in the organization or that you are going against the management. It's more of shaking things up and thinking creatively for the sole purpose of finding better ways to do what has become "the norm". It is essential for long-term success and will open the door for improvement and growth. As for the right time, for me, everyday is the right time. It is just a matter of "when you will be ready or take action".

Why do you think as women, historically speaking perhaps, we have not been so vocal in challenging the status quo?

In the industry where men dominate and the normal norm is that men often make the final decisions. Whereas, women were systematically seen as less authoritative, less influential and were not being listened to as much. And this would make it most difficult for us(women) to speak up. However, in today's society, this is not an issue anymore because women's voices are now valued and listened to by many and we can now fully contribute and express our views to influence and make a difference.

Why...why should we challenge, why should we call out?

To build and create a positive change. To promote a culture of success and continuous improvement. And most importantly, to get outside our comfort zone, take risks and constantly learn and grow.

Finally how do you think everyone, men and women, can play a part in such a movement in our daily life?

By sharing your ideas openly and confidently. Multiple perspectives can really help a lot so you must think about how you can help make a difference too and then speak out and let your ideas be heard. If you see opportunities for improvement, be courageous and bring that idea to the table. Don't be shy and afraid of being dismissed.

                    Lynette Pathy, Employer Brand & Employee Experience Lead APAC at FoodPanda 

 

Not only a multichannel marketing enthusiast & inclusion and diversity advocate, Lynette, is also an Advisory Board Member for Girl In Tech. Her experience working within tech brands has been very diverse maintaining her influence within “non-technical” roles. 

 Tell us about a time in which you felt you had to challenge a situation within the workplace and why did you do so?

*not a gender situation* I have on occasion challenged co-workers to speak in a language everyone can understand, especially if there are one or two others in the room that don't understand. I think equality starts with inclusion!

How would you advise others to do so and to know when is the right time/situation...is there always one?

Communication is always key, but there's usually always a place and time to call out inequalities or biases. For me personally, I find the best way is to often have a private conversation about the issue calmly and rationally.

Why do you think as women, historically speaking perhaps, we have not been so vocal in challenging the status quo?

I think there are different reasons why women have not been as vocal in challenging the status quo. For one, there is a common misconception that if you're an outspoken woman, you are abrasive or domineering - qualities that are not seen in a positive light. There may also be a fear of inaction or retaliation on an issue, which could be considered a "wasted effort", or even "career-limiting" in some cases.

Why...why should we challenge, why should we call out?

We should challenge inequalities and biases where we see them, so we can work towards ensuring an inclusive workplace. A lot of times, people are just unaware of the injustices faced by their peers, and by calling it out, they will be more conscious of how their words or actions affect others.

Finally how do you think everyone, men and women, can play a part in such a movement in our daily life?

Everyone should make it a point to call out any biases and inequalities they come across, even if it's as simple as including people in a conversation or decision making process to ensure everyone's voices are heard.

                                                    Jie Ning Lee, Account Manager at Google

Ning has been working at Google for the past 3 years, supporting and managing a portfolio of top Technology & Telco Large Customer Sales advertisers across the APAC region.

Tell us about a time in which you felt you had to challenge a situation within the workplace and why did you do so?

I don't particularly encounter a time when I was being challenged in a workplace (thankful for the inclusive environments I've been in), but I am being brought up in a traditional Asian environment where girls are supposed to look and behave a certain way, or have their life set at a certain path - and I was told of these since young. 

I remember when I was in University, I got elected as a president of my club and was told by male seniors that I wasn't enough to deserve the role as compared to my predecessor who was a male. As I grew into the role, I was more exposed to encouraging female leaders around me and they have helped build my confidence and shape my character. Since then, I truly believe in the power of treating every human equally (regardless of their background, gender, religion or beliefs) and women being there to support each other.

How would you advise others to do so and to know when is the right time/situation...is there always one?

The only right time we have here is to ensure the time we truly understand the situation and picking up that confidence to voice out - gender equality issues can be sometimes less "obvious" now as our society becomes more open to discussions about it so it could be hard to decipher and you absolutely do not want to cause further misunderstandings. 

But if a situation is obvious enough, there is no right time (because the understanding of what's going on here is clear) to offer help or to challenge.

Why do you think as women, historically speaking perhaps, we have not been so vocal in challenging the status quo?

I think the main cause of this comes mainly from the kind of environment we grow up in and what we've been exposed to since young, coupled with our personal experiences. 

We can have family members (or loved ones whom we trust) who think traditionally, expect us to behave a certain feminine way since young or set the directions we "should" follow - that could lead to women being less confident. At the same time, it is not wrong to think like this at that point of time as they grow up in that era where the majority of business leaders and politicians positions were held by men and women were expected to be stay-home mums or taking care of the family (so then they have also lose sight of their own ambitions). Over time, it has been passed from generations to generations. 

Why...why should we challenge, why should we call out?

I'd like to refer this to an analogy using 'Abilene Paradox' - this Paradox shows how a common breakdown of group communication happened, in which each member mistakenly believes that their own preferences are counter to the group's and, therefore, does not raise objections. In actual fact, everyone feels the same and would like to object. 

Similarly, if we do not challenge/ call out on unacceptable behaviors or situations, others around us will also not and eventually there will be a breakdown in our society. 

Finally how do you think everyone, men and women, can play a part in such a movement in our daily life?

Treat everyone equally despite their gender and treat them as human beings, be respectful of each other. 

 

BIG thanks to all the ladies sharing their stories and experience! From all of us at Sparkline, Wishing you a Happy International Women’s Day 2021!