By Exploristics CDSO, Kimberley Hacquoil
I’ve just returned from a truly exhilarating yet exhausting experience of the Women in Data flagship event in 2023. As I reflect on the day, there are several new things I have learnt, new people I have connected with, and new ideas I have been motivated by. But there are also several old things I have relearned, re-remembered, or gained a slightly different perspective on which I want to keep top of mind as I go back to my day job.
1. How far we have come
We had two keynote speakers Martha Lane-Fox and Dame Stephanie Shirley CH who talked about their trailblazing journey in a male dominated data and tech world. It really is remarkable what they achieved and hearing from them both was a very humbling experience. I gained energy from the women I met throughout the day as well, hearing the hurdles they have overcome and what they have achieved in their own companies and industries to shape and progress data and technology.
Sometimes I may still be the only women in a meeting, but this is definitely becoming less common. Sometimes the women at the table are still outnumbered, but we still need to show up, be present, have a voice and not be scared to push forward in our quest for parity. I am part of the trajectory we are on to have equity and owe it to the women before me who had to fight so much harder for that seat at the table.
2. Be braver
I attended a session which held a mirror up to me where I asked myself how brave am I and what can I achieve if I were braver? What is holding me back, what would I like to do if I removed the fear factor? It helped me see that I can be more courageous.
We talked about the enemies of courage, the way we overestimate risk and underestimate ourselves, the way that procrastination and perfectionism get in the way of us being more courageous. We need to focus on merits of the decisions we make and how we approach situations not the outcome that we cannot control.
Being bold and daring requires vulnerability and is a very personal thing. What might be courageous for one person is different from another. We need to stop looking externally at others, stop comparing ourselves, and we need to look internally. My main takeaway from this session is to be kind to myself, be more purposeful in my reflections and remember that I am in control of my personal growth and progress.
3. Lift others up
One of the key themes for the day was to ensure that we lift other women up. People talked about their experiences in being influenced by other’s mentorship, support and belief to spur them on to achieve great things. They talked about the importance of being a role model to other women and that what seem like a small thing could make a huge impact to others.
Jill Scott MBE spoke about her experiences in women’s football and her focus now on building up the next generation of girls football at grassroots to ensure a smoother path for them. I coach rugby at the weekends and there are only 3 girls in a squad of 60 children. I’m the only women coach. I didn’t realise until Jill spoke, that just my being there every week, as a role model to the girls, will inspire them in a sport dominated by males.
So, my pledge as I go back to the day job is to make a conscious effort to be that role model within my company, within the industry and within the wider community. I will support, encourage and mentor girls and other women to achieve whatever they want to achieve. The world is their oyster!