To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, and the theme #BreakTheBias, this week we hosted an ‘ask us anything’ Q&A with our Co Founder, Cat Agostinho and our Communications Manager, Sinead Lambe for our community.
Do you think that spreading awareness on International Women’s Day will help reduce sexism?
Cat: I think it’s an important day to reflect and celebrate the work being done to break down the cycle of bias in our society. It’s about being open and asking questions of each other so we can better understand how others feel and work together for a better, more equal world.
Sinead: Absolutely yes, but I think it needs to be something we address and call out every day. It’s not about pointing the finger for me, but it is about working together to question bias whether it be unconscious or deliberate. Only by working towards a common goal can we really affect change.
What experiences have you had as women?
Sinead: Oh I’ve been in a room with clients in my professional life who have made comments that are inappropriate. It is really hard as it can be tricky in those situations to push back.
Cat: I’ve had instances where I haven’t been supported in the workplace by other females too. It should be about championing all talent, no matter what our level of experience or background might be.
How has being a woman affected you in your life?
Sinead: I would say the main thing I notice is being able to be unapologetically myself. I often question whether I’m worthy of, say, the job role I’m in or whether I deserve a seat at the table as much as others. I think as a female it can be ingrained in us to be grateful for what we have and not question the status quo. It is really important to realise our worth and not question it – which is hard sometimes.
Cat: As well as a Co Founder of a successful business, I am a mum. I still feel like there is a lot of bias in workplaces when it comes to topics such as motherhood, flexible working etc. I’m fortunate enough to have put processes in place within our business to ensure that I get to spend quality time with my daughter but friends and others I know in the workplace are not as fortunate. That is a real bias in my eyes that needs addressing.
Did you ever feel like your parents or caregivers placed limitations on your abilities, interests or skills due to your gender and how were you able to overcome the challenges associated with that?
Cat: I always had a super supportive mother for whom I’m very grateful. She encouraged me to pursue whatever my dreams were and I’m very appreciative of that because it gave me the confidence to pursue my goals.
Sinead: Same actually, my parents were very encouraging of whatever decisions I made but know others who haven’t been as fortunate. I think things are changing and as a society we are becoming, on a whole, more progressive but there is still a lot of work to be done here to challenge the stereotypes associated with different genders.
What barriers did you have to overcome as women growing up and throughout your careers?
Cat: For me it is negative experiences in the workplace. But I have used that harder time to learn from and have now built a healthy workplace environment for my own team so in a way I’ve managed to turn that experience on its head.
Sinead: Much the same for me. Sometimes it can be really hard to stand up against someone who has a bias against you or others for whatever reason. But I would urge anyone going through a similar situation to lean on those they can trust for support to help overcome any negativity.
What has been your motivation to keep pushing in a male-dominated society?
Cat: For me it is to turn that around so that we don’t even think of society as male-dominated but we work towards a goal where life is a more equal playing field. My motivation is definitely helping to lift up and inspire others so that when one of us wins we all win.
Sinead: For me it’s about being the best I can be regardless of my gender or social standing and almost proving a point that by helping and supporting others that is actually a positive thing and not something that detracts from your own abilities.
What do you guys think that “Breaking the Bias” starts with?
Sinead: For me that’s easy. I think it is about acknowledging first that bias exists and is there. It’s about asking ourselves, and others, the tricky questions that need addressing. Only once we recognise the bias can we break it, together.
Cat: I think it begins with talking about it. With breaking down stereotypes and with questioning and educating ourselves about all topics of equality, not just gender.