March 18, 2018

What happens when you bring your colleagues together to discuss feminism?

For March 8th, I suggested organizing a day of reflection during which we could share our feminist concerns as a technology company.

Clarisa Guerra

Clarisa Guerra

Lead Marketing at Z1

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What happens when you bring your colleagues together to discuss feminism?

It's been just over a month since we celebrated the most massive and emotionally charged International Women's Day that I have personally ever experienced.

After about 10 years of working in a field predominantly dominated by men, such as science and technology (first in outreach at the University of Seville and later in the Espacio_RES incubator), I set out this time to have a reflection day with my colleagues at Z1 where we could share our concerns on this matter.

Why are there so few women in this sector? What can we do as a company to contribute to change? What challenges do we face as parents in this regard? And as a workplace? Obviously, these are not all the questions, and we don't have all the answers (hopefully!), but using the points outlined in the Manifesto proposed by the WomANDigital initiative as a starting point, we managed to have an engaging discussion from which I gathered some of the key points we addressed.

  • The problem of executing projects with homogeneous teams: A team composed solely of middle-aged white men is likely to produce a product that works correctly or is ideal, but ONLY for a specific group that aligns with their perspective. Undoubtedly, different viewpoints will be missing, which is a drawback for the final outcome of the product or service you are developing, as there is a whole spectrum of experiences and sensitivities left out of that group. Having mixed and diverse teams helps both the team and the client benefit, achieving a more open and comprehensive view of reality, and, consequently, better products and services for everyone.
  • The scarcity of positive discrimination measures: It is necessary to equalize maternity and paternity leaves and make them cost-neutral for companies, or establish 35-hour workweeks instead of 40, for both men and women. Unfortunately, the administration still doesn't make it easy for companies to implement work-life balance measures in any sector.
  • A school calendar adapted to the 21st century: The current school calendar seems to be designed for a time when the role of a housewife was widespread, with women taking care of children while men worked outside. Grandparents cannot be expected to perpetuate this role, and daycare centres have extremely high prices for the majority of society's incomes. A realistic school calendar would allow both parents to work full-time without depending on third parties.
  • Why not take advantage of the benefits offered by the ICT sector more broadly in companies? This sector often has tools that could provide parents with greater flexibility to deal with unexpected childcare needs, such as picking up sick children from school and then making up those hours later. Why not consider promoting these advantages in other sectors where implementation is possible?
  • Including professional profiles in early childhood education to address minor everyday issues that currently force, mostly mothers, to leave their jobs just to attend to them. For example, when a child needs a diaper change during working hours.
  • There is a serious issue of awareness and education. The lack of role models and the scarcity of same-gender vocations sometimes cause the few girls who venture into learning technology to drop out. It's a recurring fact: the absence of women in the technology sector means that others may not be encouraged, and some engineering programs may become hostile environments. Therefore, there should be a greater collective effort by educators and peers to empower women in the technology sector.

Every single action is essential to eradicate the sexism in our society

The fact that we at Z1 have facilitated dialogue and devoted time to reflect on this issue, that we support initiatives like the WomANDigital Manifesto, which we collectively signed as a company, that on March 8th, we wore the evergreen flowers sent to us by The Colvin Co to support their #WomenRevolution, and that we participate in the Technovation Challenge, a program in which we serve as judges, makes everyone in our small studio feel that we want to be part of that change 💪💜