A day to #BreakTheBias.

On 8th March 2022, International Women’s Day was observed worldwide and what better way for #WomenOnIT community to celebrate is to meet and gather. We were joined by wonderful people and members of our inclusive community, not only women but men as well. Over a bottle of wine, we had a thought-provoking discussion where everyone was delighted to share and bring refreshing insights to the table.

We were joined by a special guest, Ann E. Berg, a senior consultant for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (UN-FAO). She has worked as an independent consultant with Financial Markets International, Inc. She has also advised foreign governments, the United Nations, Catalyst Institute, and multinational and foreign corporations on a variety of market related issues.

Ann was the first female grain exporter in the world. We were interested to hear her talks about global trade wherein she used agriculture as a microcosm of other trade because according to her, “whenever a country’s policy is towards agriculture, you find that it’s basically replicated in all the various industries and protectionism.”

The group was also pleased to learn about the inspiring story of Ann Berg’s mother, a brilliant woman at that – from working for MI6 as a cipher operator, working on different jobs, to getting into stocks and investments.

Consequently, the conversation led to the important message of this year’s IWD celebration which is breaking the bias women face and deal with every day. Here are the important pointers during the discussion:

  • Getting women into management roles, it’s possible that there is a higher percentage of men because of the nature of the business. It’s not from the culture of the organisation – it’s about the educational system and exposure.
  • When we talk about “bias” there is conscious and subconscious bias. So there is always this perception that boys are into cars and girls are into other toys. We need to sometimes question ourselves – what is our thinking like to open our minds to different possibilities for our children.
  • Promoting or having the root for more women to have more diversity and creating a space for it.
  • There’s something which is a bias that kind of works the other way around. It’s just an open window in women just for the sake that it’s wrong.
  • There are statistics and research that proves that women are hired on proof and men are hired on potential.
  • On hiring women on certain roles, there are environments where you don’t have the culture and the kind of environment and it’s not only one person taking the decision but the rest of the management team who’s behind the decision to hire because she has the potential and she wants a career in that space, and she’s taking the right steps towards it.
  • So one of the things that many companies are doing is having policies not only for women, for men as well. The moment we welcome fathers to be fathers as the moment we welcome moms to be moms. This is going to change the culture within the company. Involve men also in tasks that are perceived as “women’s tasks”.
  • There are certain roles perceived that they are only for men or only for women.
  •  Men are stronger. There are jobs that will be more appropriate for males.
  •  A person should be employed for what they bring to the team/company and not for their gender.

Each of us has a shared responsibility in breaking the bias and smashing stereotypes and inequality. Listening to women and recognizing their great potential can lead us towards a more diverse and equal world, free of bias.