International Women’s Day has been around for over 100 years and has grown to mark an occasion to celebrate the achievements and advances of women in all aspects of modern life, especially in economics, politics and social matters.
Over the past few years I have noticed a lot of publicity for all sorts of issues around gender equality, general equality in the workplace, equal pay, work life balance, etc. And that’s just right. It’s 2016 after all, not 1956.
In my industry – data analytics, business intelligence and data visualisation – there has been a lot of movement and activity and the creation of women-focused events and initiatives, which I personally found encouraging, inspiring and stimulating for my own career, growth and ambitions.
On the one hand, there have been many successful female role models who have paved the way with their achievements, their courage and vision. On the other hand, there have also been strong and supportive men who have championed our cause and who showed through their actions and words that they want to create an equal work environment with opportunities for us all to develop, advance, learn from each other and grow our businesses together.
Personally, I am lucky to say that I can look back on the past 5 years and acknowledge that the great leadership of my male ‘superiors’ (yes, I’ve only ever reported to men in my career) has enabled me to be where I am today. They helped me develop and grow my talents, saw my strength and valued my input and contributions to the team. And I believe that in this debate around gender equality and equal opportunities, we must not forget about them. It’s not just about ‘what’s in it for us’, but rather ‘how can we all collaboratively create a new and better environment in which everyone’s contributions are valued and where differences are celebrated as opportunities and not feared or suppressed’.
So at this point I want to take my hat off to the men who gave me a chance to succeed and a nudge (or a push) in the right direction. Thank you!
But I also want to call out the women who have helped and inspired me, especially those in the data and Tableau community, but also the fierce and competitive athletes whom I encounter in the triathlon world and those helping others create a better life for themselves in the health and fitness world.
First up I want to acknowledge the entire Women in Data community. Tableau has established a community group called Data+Women, which is a great way to get involved, get in touch and get inspired.
At a local level, we recently held the first Women in Data event in Sydney, organised and hosted by Precision Sourcing with the support of about a dozen of us who were keen to get involved.
In the Tableau community there are a lot of women from various technical and non-technical backgrounds who are passionate about data, visualisations and helping organisations make the most of their information assets. Thanks to the following ladies for inspiring, challenging and encouraging me and for making me laugh a lot:
A few years ago, while working at Deloitte, I was able to see a number women in leadership positions across the organisation. One of those women has progressed quickly and successfully to become a partner in the consulting firm and continues to help others achieve their goals, while influencing the consulting industry and being a voice of inspiration.
Finally, and I’m sure we can all agree on this, there are a lot of successful female athletes who can claim achievements that often leave us humbled as we arrive home from a jog, huffing and puffing and collapsing on the couch.
The ‘summer of Tennis’ here in Australia saw Angelique Kerber (a fellow German) win her first Grand Slam title and becoming the first German since 1999 to win such a title (source: Wikipedia).
In the world of Triathlon, my favourite female professional is Gwen Jorgensen who became the 2014 and 2015 world champion in the Olympic distance and who has won her last 13 (!!!) ITU races in a row. Now that is one impressive and actually quite incredible accomplishment. I was very interested to read that the ‘secret’ to her success is the commitment and support by her husband who ‘gave up’ his career in professional cycling to literally manage everything for Gwen, from grocery shopping to food prep, travel arrangements etc. In a world where the reverse is so typical, it’s great to see a dedicated husband who commits his every day to enabling his wife to be successful.
Another inspiring triathlete for me is Daniela Ryf, who last year was the first to win the ‘Triple Crown’, a series of 3 Ironman 70.3 races, which saw her receive a cheque of $1m in prize money. She is as successful as she is likable and watching her race is exciting, at times nerve-wrecking and always inspiring.
International Women’s Day 2016 – I think we definitely have a lot to celebrate as we look at the progress that has been made and the changes that are happening. There are women who lead countries, women who lead businesses and many many women who lead extraordinary lives. And I applaud them.
But we can’t just look at others and what they’re doing. I think it’s important that we ourselves do things, create, discover, challenge, build and nurture. And that in doing so we give ourselves every reason for a round of applause.
If you’re interested to read about my personal story about being a ‘Woman in Data’, you can find it here…