This past Friday, 11 February, we held a round table for International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Participating in this round table were 8 female employees from Voxel who wanted to share their experience after pursuing a career in science. Thanks to these women, dozens of Voxelians had the chance to think about the role of women in this sector. We also had a chance to reflect on the challenges ahead of us.
The first challenge: entering the world of science and technology
School perhaps represents the first opportunity for girls to experience science. Sometimes, school marks the beginning of a beautiful story as explained by Maribel: “As a little girl I enjoyed subjects related with physics, chemistry, etc. Strangely, my parents signed me up for a programming course when I was 10 and I enjoyed it very much”.
However, it isn’t always like this. Many women don’t get started in science until much later in life. “I did not choose my path in the world of science and technology, it chose me. Until I began working at Voxel, I had only worked in ERPs”, said Sandra.
On the other hand, Marta took advantage of a sabbatical year to decide what she wanted to do; what made her happy. “Some coworkers from my last job encouraged me to transfer over to the technology sector”.
Difficulties and obstacles along the way
Once in the sector, our female coworkers described the difficulties and obstacles they encountered along the way.
“I had to deal with insecurities because I felt different. When I was young, I was the only girl that liked technology, gaming, etc.”, remembered Daniela.
“I have encountered many barriers to enter the sector. The worst thing was having to continuously prove my worth”, admitted Maribel.
Female role models in science
Another subject we discussed during the round table was the lack of women role models in science. Or in other words, the lack of visibility being placed on these women.
“Female role models exist, this is true. But between distance and time, they feel very far away. For me it was encouraging to know that there were real women working in science and technology. The Twitter community helped me a lot”, said Sara.
Along the same lines, Carol said: “I didn’t come into the sector because I had a role model. I felt inspired by the same female coworkers I have met at Voxel”.
Patri added: “In my case, my role models were some of the women closest to me. My sisters have taught me to get to know who I am and work hard to reach my goals”.
Affirmative action: yes or no?
We also had time to discuss affirmative action and quotas in company leadership positions. Is affirmative action necessary? Do quotas solve anything?
“It is very important for women to be in top leadership positions. Not only to be there, but to reach the top positions. Quotas have proven to be a very effective tool. I am in favor of quotas but not as the only tool”, said Maribel.
Patricia had a similar opinion: “Affirmative action must disappear naturally. For me the key is for there to be visibility in all stages of education”.
Micro-chauvinism, salary gap and gender-neutral language
During the last part of the round table, we discussed micro-chauvinism, the salary gap between genders, and the usefulness or not of using gender-neutral language.
“Regarding micro-chauvinism, we have come a long way but it still happens. Even during interviews, it is common to be asked personal questions”, said Sandra.
Daniela talked about the salary gap: “The salary gap exists because historically, the best paid positions in the sector have been reserved for men. Women are more insecure and it is hard for us to believe we can be successful”. And Meri added, “women should be invited to participate in leadership circles. If these spaces open up for us, women will participate”.
“Gender-neutral language is more than simply replacing one word with another. Gender-neutral language means changing the way we think”, emphasized Carol.
Finally, all participants wanted to leave a very special message for all girls.
Thanks to Marta, Sandra, Meri, Patricia, Carolina, Sara, Daniela and Maribel. For participating in this round table and sharing your experiences. For shining a light on women and for being role models in science. And also, for being part of Voxel and making us think as we listened to your words.
Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science!