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International Women's Day: Q&A with Aimee Mail

Posted by: Lauren Cox 7 Mar 17  | Current Issues

In celebration of International Women's Day on the 8th March, we sat down with Aimee Mail, Principal Consultant at McLean Ross, as a woman in the Smart Technology sector. 

What challenges do women face in the Smart Technology industry?

I think women not only face challenges in Smart Technology, but within the workplace in general. One of the biggest challenges in the world of technology is the heavily reported lack of women in the industry. Whilst this is something the authorities are trying to change, the issue still remains evident.

The skills gap and gender gap go hand-in-hand in Smart Technology. The solution, in my opinion, is making STEM attractive to girls from a young age and giving them opportunities in order to make this route appeal to them as a career path worth pursuing. While there is continual debate over whose responsibility it is for this, I honestly believe that it is all about striking a balance between parents, schools, industry professionals and the media.

One of the biggest challenges women face in the workplace is getting into leadership roles; despite the fact that there are copious statistics which suggest that companies with women in leadership roles crush the competition, there is still a lack of women at the top. It’s frustrating. It’s 2017 and we are still banging the same drum. In my opinion, this is down to two things: culture and confidence. 

In summary and in regards to culture, can you say that your company is currently supporting and nurturing future female leaders? Do you have a strong mentoring programme? Do you have an inclusive culture where women feel confident enough to speak their minds in a meeting room full of men? It’s one to ponder on and one that most companies are yet to get correct.

Secondly, confidence. This is a point that I feel strongly on, most of the women that I speak to have confidence issues including myself. Although, I’m lucky enough to have the confidence to say what I think (I can thank my northern roots and my mum for this), but I still have doubts in my ability and I question myself constantly. When questioned externally about my success I will put this down to luck rather than my hard work.

Sound familiar?

Welcome to the imposter syndrome. It’s actually proven that instead of working harder to prove their abilities, sufferers actually bury themselves in their tasks, avoiding extra responsibility.

How can this be resolved?

I honestly wish women would take a leaf from the Spice Girls. Yes, you can leave the 90’s clobber behind, but their simple philosophy of ‘Girl Power’ needs to be brought back! 

I keep coming across a quote on Instagram which says “Support your local girl group.” Again, I don’t think it refers to donning your Brownie uniform, but I believe that a strong support network is key to a woman's success. There’s a reason why Sheryl Sandberg’s book, 'Lean In', is the go to for aspiring business women.

Mentoring is a great way for younger women who are starting their career to get advice on challenges that they are facing, so implementing this in a business is a great start.

 I also think that raising awareness of senior women in the industry and understanding their personal career path is a great way for us to learn and sympathise (which is why I love this campaign!)

More than anything, I think men have such a key part to play in the gender equality debate. Getting them involved and bringing their ideas to the table is crucial in order to implement change.

Why is ‘Women in Smart Technology’ important to you? 

Raising awareness of women in the industry is something I am incredibly passionate about; I am a big advocate of women in general to be honest. I’ve been lucky enough to have had key female influences throughout my life and for that I am so grateful.

I was raised by my single mum who, in my eyes, is Superwoman or maybe some form of magical, mythical being! Nonetheless, she taught me to have strength and independence from a young age.

Growing up, I fell in love with the Spice Girls and the concept of ‘Girl Power’ is forever with me because of that. My boss is an incredibly intelligent business woman who has taught me to always strive to be better. 

I consider myself lucky. I am lucky to have had these influences as they have shaped me and built my confidence. Some women haven’t had this and in industries which are male dominated, you have to have a tough skin, you have to have the confidence to be able to hold your own in a meeting and for some, that’s not easy.

I hope that the Women in Smart Technology campaign will inspire women and bring awareness of the challenges women face in their careers, ultimately celebrating and communicating their success. When young women start their career, it is daunting and even more so in male dominated industries. It’s nice to know that there are women that have been in your shoes previously and can advise you when you think the whole world is closing in on you!

What motivates you to be successful?

Making my mum proud is a huge motivator - she’s bent over backwards to provide for me so I think it’s only fair I start paying her back!

 

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