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Women in technology

Women in technology: “My personal reflection on conversations held with the nominees to the CRN Women in Channel awards.”

It is only the third afternoon of autumn 2021 but I am already chilled to the bone: it’s been raining without respite, either drizzle or torrential rain. Daylight is getting shorter, again.

While contemplating trees much older than me, I give a deep sigh at the thought of my life partner: an incurable feminist of a sharp mind and blue-sky loving eyes. And I realise how difficult it is for us – men – to even begin to understand feminist issues, life-long struggles of many women in the vanguard. This comes with a feeling of immense gratitude for being close to her, and to be able to provide her, even if only a little, support. I am fortunate enough to receive by all means greater support of hers.

In this context I have started to digest and reflect upon nine conversations I held with my colleagues nominated for the industry awards ‘CRN Women in Channel’. Each conversation was unique, each acquired a different personality, meanwhile representing some parallels and similarities.

This may sound like an obvious one. Despite one can hear it many times, and rationally grasps its meaning, it is not until one actively listens that one may start realising the consequences and yes, difficulties that women keep carrying in their professional lives. And yes, even in this country, the UK, and in IT industry.

It strikes me that the topic of maternity and motherhood appeared in practically all conversations. At some point of their adult lives, my interlocutors had asked themselves: how their motherhood would have changed the way they are perceived? Would they be seen as ‘true’ professionals, designated with the strategic tasks or, would they be given only those jobs nobody else wanted? They also asked themselves whether they could keep up with being highly professional employees and good mothers at the same time.

The more I force myself, the more impossible is to recall having any of the dilemmas alike, including in conversations with the closest friends. What a ‘privilege’ -still- to be a man in this world. Was I so blind that did not let me appreciate – or even reflect upon – the reality of others? Am I guilty of becoming a parent – a father – unconsciously in the first place, and overlooking multiple responsibilities it acquires for the whole family unit? The fatherhood beyond the weekend, of the father who is present.

Regardless the degree to which women are supported by their partners, my interlocutors share the creeping forces of doubt whether they were capable to pursue what they put forward. Historically, their self-doubts have long existed before them, and have been transmitted from generation to generation. Their struggle is shared with those before them, however being different these days. From my masculine standpoint, I am asking myself if I could do more; if I could show more empathy to these fears, dreams and emotions; if I could act more promptly too. No doubt there is much left to be done, to unlearn and to reflect upon, to make a shift from and within our [collective] masculinity.

To be nominated for the entire-industry award is an achievement on its own. Behind each nomination is a very hard-working person, of a high focus and high efficiency, both mental and physical. The need to keep both physical and mental wellbeing above the surface has appeared across all the stories that show incredible levels of day-to-day resilience. In our conversations, I have also realised I spoke to women at the high speed of their career paths, for whom, despite all the ‘buts’, the impossible never existed, who routinely smashed the barriers around them. In the end, they achieved the highest performance in their professional and personal lives.

We spoke about the Corporate Human, and the central question of the project: why do we do what we do in our professional lives? This work brings attention to the other aspects of being a human behind their screens, at times unexpected, such as making music, fishing, cycling, volunteering, to name a few.

When photographing people’s portraits, my aim is for my subjects to stay conscious of their images, to reflect on what they wish to communicate visually and ultimately, with their expression. For the ‘CRN Women in Channel’ awards, we explored the theme of empowerment, which my interlocutors described as related to feeling free, loud, strong and bold. As we all know, being empowered can make us visible in different ways, hence the importance of ‘what to wear’. For the purpose of the session, I asked to bring a dress that was important for them. Some of the dresses made my interlocutors feel like superheroes. Wow! After all these years there is wider diversity among superheroes. For others, a dress was a reminder about their first date, and some others provoked them to experiment with their image or even reinvent themselves.

Indeed, I feel privileged to work in my company, where we at least try to support each other. All my interlocutors concluded that their company felt as their family. I am also honoured to support my colleagues with their portraits, which I hope bring justice to their incredible work and passion each of them carries to this job.

Thank you – and best of luck to all of them!

*Text translated, reviewed and copy-edited by Gosia Polanska (Mojek)


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