i’m returning to the stage at the Lead Developer London conference this June where I’ll be talking about my experiences hiring through an anonymous recruitment process and how this lead my team to conduct some very interesting research into what might put off traditionally marginalised job seekers from applying.Read More
The Brave Podcast: Tales of Resilience
After a couple of months beavering away behind the scenes, I’m delighted to announce that my first ever podcast, The Brave, is now live on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
The Brave is an exploration of resilience, a topic which I have become fascinated with over the past few years. In each episode I interview someone new about how they have overcome challenges and their methodologies for dealing with adversity.
What topics will The Brave cover?
Mental health, physical endurance, dealing with stress, overcoming disaster, grief, loss, hope, keeping it together under pressure, the expectations of others, life under the social media lens, coping when things go wrong, coping when things go well, dealing with your own expectations, being yourself, how to push yourself, when to be kind to yourself, giving up and much, much more.
Listen on Apple Podcasts here
Listen on Spotify here
If you enjoy what you hear, I’d be so grateful if you left a review and/or star rating.
Despite growing recognition of the benefits of gender equality, the number of women holding the most senior jobs in the boardrooms of Britain’s FTSE 100 is actually falling.
This, combined with the gender pay gap, is startlingly indicative of a society which still does not recognise women’s contributions equally and is subsequently missing out on the contributions of a talented and diverse workforce.
There are many structural and societal reasons why women are less likely to climb the corporate ladder; the lack of truly flexible working options for those with caring responsibilities, exclusion from male dominated networking opportunities and the fact that women are less likely to talk about their achievements, which therefore makes them less visible.
Self promotion for women is a double-edged sword
Women are socialised from a very early age to appear modest in public, an idea which has roots in Ancient Greek society and perhaps even earlier. This ‘modesty norm’ is reinforced and carried on into the workplace, where - “boasting about one’s accomplishments causes women to experience uncomfortable situational arousal.”
In a nutshell, talking about our accomplishments makes us feel deeply uncomfortable. However in order to get ahead at work, we need to talk about our accomplishments.
A recent study, which sought to explore why women are so uncomfortable self-promoting, found results that were “most consistent with a backlash avoidance mechanism whereby women feel uncomfortable self-promoting due to perceived social consequences.”
Research has also found that women do experience a backlash when self-promoting, and are less liked than women who adhere to the social norm. So, when self-promotion is needed for success, women are dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t, it seems.
#Iamremarkable is a Google initiative empowering women and underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond. The initiative empowers women to run events across the globe, which consist of a 90 minute workshop seeking to “highlight to participants the importance of self promotion in their careers and provide them with the tools to start developing this skill.”
Hannah started off the workshop with a stark point - your accomplishments don’t speak for themselves, however women are expected to praise others and not throw attention on ourselves.
We then spent some time discussing this and sharing our own experiences of the gendered difference in self promotion. I don’t want to share the experiences of others here without their permission, but I will say that some of the stories were shockingly sexist and deeply illustrative of the self-promotion double standard.
Sharing your accomplishments is uncomfortable
After a short break for food we each returned to our tables to find a blank sheet on A4 and a pen.
We were then instructed to fill the sheet with a list of our accomplishments and to do this in silence, without conferring with others. After some time, we would then each read our lists back to the group on our tables.
My heart sank. There was honestly nothing I wanted to do less.
Writing the list was extremely difficult, for everyone. We all felt deeply uncomfortable, so much so that some of us broke the silence rule to express how uncomfortable we felt!
When it came to the reading of the lists, it was actually a fascinating experience. As everyone went round, I didn’t think for a second that anyone was bragging or self promoting in an “icky” way.
If anything, I was really interested to hear about everyone’s diverse achievements and why they are remarkable.
After reading out our lists in groups we then had a wider discussion about how it felt to write and read our list, with a bit of dissection around exactly why it felt so weird and wrong to do it.
Why am I remarkable?
It makes me deeply uncomfortable to share this list online.
What if people think I’m bragging?
What if I come across as arrogant, self-indulgent or self-important?
But that’s the problem isn’t it.
We worry that we come across badly if we share the good about ourselves. However if we don’t share the good, how do we expect others to recognise it?
So here we go:
I am often considered a leader
I am a good cat mum (🙌 to all the other cat mums in the audience)
I’m not afraid to stand up for what I believe in and for others
I am good at what I do for a living
I am always first in line to try something new
I have lots of side projects (this blog, my podcast etc.)
I got an impressive degree mark
I consistently get up at 6am to go to the gym
I am brave and not afraid to go against the norm
I lost 5 stone and have kept it off for 5 years
I am good at thinking of creative ways to solve complex issues
I am very good at communicating
I am the life and soul of the party
Thank you to Women in Tech York and Hannah for running the workshop. I definitely feel more confident in talking about my accomplishments (as hopefully the list above evidences!) and really enjoyed discussing the issue with my peers.
What makes you remarkable - what are your awesome achievements?
Share in the comments below and smash societal expectations of modesty!
Sometimes we all need to take a break from the glowing boxes that dictate most of our waking hours. It’s all too easy to find yourself sucked into Instagram or scrolling through Facebook, especially if you’re feeling at a bit of a loose end.
Here are some of my suggestions for alternative activities to soothe those moments of boredom in a non-digital manner.
Play a game IRL.
Think cards, board games or something like dominoes. You could even have a go at making up your own game if you’re really feeling the need for a creative outlet (go all in and make your own card deck and playing board).
I must caution that you should avoid Monopoly if you’re super competitive and don’t want the aggravation of an explosive family argument.
Call a friend for a catch up
This is kind of cheating as you do need to use a phone to make the call, however once you’ve dialled the number and pressed go, you can sit back and relax into a good old chat/gossip/whatever floats your boat. If you can meet up in-person, even better.
Bonus points are available if you call up/meet someone you haven’t spoken to in a very, very long time.
Attempt to make something from a new recipe
There’s a running joke in my house that I have more cookbooks that I will ever need in one lifetime (I think my collection now is about 50… I can’t help myself!). Despite having a lot of material to choose from, I always find myself going back to a few tried and tested recipes, mainly because I’m lazy and like routine.
Instead of reverting to something easy and known, challenge yourself to try and make something new. Not only will it add some variety to your food routine, you might also pick up a new culinary skill.
Go for an aimless wander
So much of our daily lives is spent moving “in pursuit” of things - whether that’s to get to work on time, pick up something from the shops or go and meet someone. Moving without purpose might seem a bit nonsensical in our results driven society, but it is quite relaxing and liberating.
Slip on your shoes, head out the door and see where your feet take you!
Curiously mine always seem to take me to the local corner shop for a bar of chocolate…
Organise and deal with the pile of documents on *that* shelf that you keep on meaning to do, but always lack the motivation to tackle.
Just do it. You’ll feel a million times better, I promise you.
Go to the open mic night at your local
Support local talent and drink beer - win = win.
Yes, most of the acts will be pretty poor. But in my experience every once in a while there is someone amazing that will make sitting through all the crap totally worth it.
Write a letter to yourself to be opened in 1, 5 or 10 years time (or whatever timescale suits you).
What do you hope for? What do you want older you to remember? What do you want to remind them about?
Ages 25 I wrote a letter to 30 year old me. I can’t wait to find out what she had to say.
This is very much cheating when it comes to the no tech thing, but you can use FutureMe to write a letter that will be delivered via email on your date of choosing.
This is my ninth post in my attempt to write something on this blog everyday in October. Find my previous post from the 8th here.
I would take the day below with a pinch of salt because like most people, I try to work to an ideal schedule which doesn't always materialize.
Generally speaking though, the day laid out below is pretty reflective of my actual life on a weekday.Read More