Happy International Women's Day 2018!! If you're not sure what this is or why we need it, you can have a little read about it here. As a small, family business, I'm grateful that my business partner (also my father) Graham, fully supports female equality.
There was a memorable incident a few years ago when one elderly (male) client refused to deal with me, due to my age and gender, claiming I didn't know what I was talking about, and that he would only deal with Graham. His technical issues were well within my capability to solve - he was told in no uncertain terms that I did know what I was talking about, that I was a vital part of the company, and that if he didn't want to deal with me he couldn't deal with us at all. Many employers or colleagues would have swept this under the carpet, apologised, or provided a senior male consultant, so I feel very lucky that Graham always has my back and recognises my value.
As a woman that's worked in technology for... a few years now (ahem!) I'm sorry to say that in large corporations and businesses in general, there is still a gender pay gap, general lack of women in technical roles, and an assumption that technical matters are "men's work". I've been mistaken for a secretary, had men talk over my head and ignore my contribution in meetings, and have enough tales of horrible sexism at work to fill a book.
Things are improving, but there's still a way to go yet before everyone is treated equally. There are programmes to get girls interested in STEM topics (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) at a younger age, and hopefully the ubiquity of mobile phones and tablets will mean they're more confident with technology growing up.
On the other side of the coin, I've noticed that some female clients can feel intimidated by technology, and are less likely to ask questions or make suggestions, than men. I'm here to say there's no such thing as a silly question - just things you know and things you don't know. If you've never been shown how to do something, then it would be unreasonable to expect you to know how it works, whether that's editing a website, using a computer or even a mobile phone. And as they're expensive and complicated bits of kit, it can be scary to start pressing buttons if you're not sure whether you'll break something.
So please ask the questions, or ask for training if you feel you need it - I can promise you no matter how silly or small you may think the question is, we've been asked it before. We specialise in supporting small businesses, and whether you get a male or female member of staff here at GMT you will be treated with respect and get an explanation in plain English. We know some fabulous women business owners and entrepreneurs, all achieving incredible things in their industries. And personally, I'm very lucky to have a support network of (mostly female) business owners, that are always there to answer questions or offer advice.
Here's to all the female techies, entrepreneurs, and business owners that are out there doing an amazing job - and to the men that support them. Let's continue to achieve and shatter stereotypes in 2018!