Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), a day that means a great deal to the entire EDB team. This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias, posing a great opportunity for us all to step up and acknowledge the impact that bias has on gender equality. We all have a role to play in recognizing this gap and using our voice to bring awareness to forge a more gender-equal world.
In honor of International Women’s Day today, we’ve asked some of the incredible women of EDB to answer a few questions that illuminate what this day means to them.
Here’s what they had to say.
1) Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
Nandini Karkare, VP, Sales Operations: I wish we were already at the place of equality in our society where an International Women's Day would not be important, but unfortunately, we are not yet at that level. Society continues to be driven by patriarchy in most aspects, especially when it comes to leadership. Women still need to overcome the generations of expectation (either from the society or our internal conditioning) of playing the role of caregivers, homemakers, or being the ones to take a step back from our demanding careers when the family needs it. In my opinion, International Women's day is for men and women to acknowledge this burden and actively encourage the women in their lives to follow their dreams.
Anindita Acharjee, Staffing Specialist APJ: Despite historical developments, women’s empowerment still has a long way to go globally. The majority of the world’s poor are women due to continuous gender inequalities occurring globally. There are lack of opportunities, awareness, health decline, and many more when compared to a man. So, to make sure that women and girls have a voice and can be equal players in decision-making, and to drive awareness and celebrate their achievements, it is important to come together and celebrate International Women’s Day.
Juhi Ubnare, Senior HR Generalist: Supporting and celebrating women’s rights is a year-round responsibility. But at its core, International Women’s Day serves an important purpose. It forces conversations about women’s achievements and global gender inequality into the mainstream—and it invites people of all backgrounds, ages, and genders to consider what they can do to make the world a more equal place for everyone.
Grace Jephson, Executive Assistant: It’s an opportunity to highlight the collective issues women face, and in doing so raises awareness of topics like women's education, the gender pay gap, domestic violence, diversity in the workplace, and so many more. It also gives women from all over the world an opportunity to come together in celebration of what we have achieved so far, and the obstacles that we are yet to overcome.
Shannon Ray-Bernard, HR Systems Analyst: Celebrating International Women’s Day is not only an important time to highlight the successful achievements of women, but it’s also a moment to recognize that more work needs to be done in order to make progress towards gender parity on a worldwide level.
Aislinn Wright, Director, Product Management: Globally, there is still a large gap in labor participation rates between men and women. From a personal perspective, I think it’s so important to celebrate and raise awareness for women to continue pursuing their goals and dreams because that is how change and progress is made.
Rebecca Connell, Director, HR: Sadly, we still live in a world where recognizing women on this day is necessary as we have such a long way to go with gender equality. I hope one day we will live in a world where we celebrate women's contributions to society every day and that every day they are treated as equals. Today is an opportunity for us all (not just women) to celebrate the achievements of women and how far they have come in society.
Kanchan Mohitey, Senior Director, Managed Support Services: Women make up half of humanity and they are immensely under-represented where critical decisions are being made. Having women at the table makes a significant difference. We saw this notably during the pandemic. Some fantastic leadership by women in countries like New Zealand, Germany, Finland, Taiwan seemed to be particularly successful in fighting the coronavirus. So many women doctors, nurses, caregivers and essential workers across the world were taking care of people, often while doing double duty at home. It is just unacceptable that half of the world population's skills, creativity, and insight is missing when critical decisions are being made. Until women are equal in all aspects of life, International Women Day will be relevant.
Archana Dhankar, Director, Marketing EMEA: For centuries, societal definitions and expectations have restricted women's potential and role. As the world progresses, we need to raise awareness of this prejudice that has been in our culture for decades. International Women's Day is an important reminder that gender equality should be the rule rather than the exception.
Afsane Anand, Customer Success Manager: In many parts of the world women are still being suppressed and don't have equal rights to their male counterparts. Women should stand with and for one another everyday, but during International Women's Day we have a good excuse to make it even more public. Every person, no matter their gender, should have the same rights around the globe.
Meaghan Moraes, Senior Content Marketing Manager: International Women’s Day is an important time to stand up and speak out as a strong, intelligent, powerful woman. We are no less than men; we are forces of nature. May that ring out louder, with more voices each day.
2) Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
Theresa Colarusso, VP, Customer Success: I have to say that I've been very lucky, professionally. I've had both male and female leaders who believed in me, helped me work through challenges, and lifted me up with them as they grew in organizations. As a woman in technology, there can at times be an interesting dynamic in a room that is often filled with far more men than women. I've occasionally encountered a predisposition to believe that I'm not technically competent. I've worked hard to ensure that I can speak the same language as my colleagues and customers so that I bring a level of 'street cred' to the conversation.
Nandini Karkare, VP, Sales Operations: I was married even before I graduated and I adjusted my educational aspirations based on the need of the new unit I was part of. I pivoted and thankfully continued to work even when "there wasn't a need to work" and the pay was not good. This required going against the flow of the expectations the family, the society, had on me. It helped and it continues to help—and somewhere along the way, it no longer remained different. Society and the family accepted it and it was a non-issue. It did require me to hold my own and be persistent.
Grace Jephson, Executive Assistant: I think one of the most challenging things I have come across in my career was when I became a mother. There is often a point where choices over who should cut back on paid work are made, often resulting in families adopting “traditional” gender roles. This can make it harder for women to get back to work both in a physical sense, as well as the possibility of losing confidence. Many forward thinking countries have introduced Daddy Quotas, incentifying fathers to take on more of the childcare responsibility and helping mothers return to work. Hopefully with events such as IWD, topics such as this will gain awareness and we will come to a point where matters such as this are based on personal preference, not an antiquated rulebook.
Aislinn Wright, Director, Product Management: I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity working for companies that respect women and I’ve been surrounded by fantastic colleagues who are supportive of me. That being said, I cannot count the amount of times I have been the only woman in a meeting with men. It’s never lost on me when that happens, but it does not deter me in any way.
Rebecca Connell, Director, HR: Most of my career has been spent in male dominated environments, so I am no stranger to being the only woman in the room. I used to find this challenging, but now it is the norm for me. I have definitely found myself in situations where I have wondered if I have been treated differently due to being a woman, but I have also been lucky enough to have mentors and managers (both male and female), who have supported and believed in me throughout my career. I think it is incredibly important that if you do feel you are treated differently, call it out. We need to become comfortable with facing the uncomfortable in relation to equality.
Laetitia Avrot, Field CTO: I'm not the kind to stop when there are barriers, thanks to my Mom, who is a feminist and made sure I knew I belong to this world and had the same rights as men. It does not mean I did not experience sexism in my existence, it just means I fought back because I did not want to create precedence.
Archana Dhankar, Director, Marketing EMEA: I have experienced less explicit but some bias at workplaces. However, I have come to understand that this type of behavior is often unintentional and based on perceptions and conditioning over many years. As a result, I have learned not to be disheartened by such acts but rather let my performance and skillset shine through. Fortunately, men and women alike are becoming more aware of this, and although complete gender equality will take a lot more time, I can see that conscious efforts are being made to bridge the gap.
Meaghan Moraes, Senior Content Marketing Manager: Luckily, I've been supported by great mentors since the start of my career, but I've always felt a palpable need to grow my confidence in order to survive—especially in conversations where I'm the only woman present. I've succeeded by expressing my convictions with professionalism, exhibiting the prowess of a bold woman with poise.
3) What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Rebecca Connell, Director, HR: Believe in yourself and your abilities, I see self-doubt holding back so many young women when they are just as capable as their male counterparts. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Women tend to be more self critical than men, when making mistakes really is the best way to learn and continuously improve. Finally, remember to not compare yourself to others, this is your journey and everyone is different. Difference and diversity is what makes the world a beautiful place.
Ancy Sreenivasan, Senior Director, HR: Have courage and be humble to accept what you don’t know. Always have the energy and enthusiasm to keep learning. Each of us has a fire in our heart; it’s up to us to find it and keep it lit. Our focus and consistency will determine our reality.
Anindita Acharjee, Staffing Specialist APJ: Never be afraid of who you are and how different your approach is from the rest. You’re unlikely to be the first or the last—your journey is your journey.
Juhi Ubnare, Senior HR Generalist: Start asking yourself what you really want. Try to imagine the ideal life for you. And then make it your goal to arrive in that dream destination of yours. It’s easier to navigate life when you know exactly the desires of your heart. The only person who gets to decide about which journey you should be trekking on is you. Not the society or anyone in your life. You’re the one who truly understands yourself. So, pay attention to what your gut is telling you.
Grace Jephson, Executive Assistant: Try not to set limitations for yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. You are uniquely you, and can achieve anything you put your mind to. In striving for your goals, you will motivate and inspire others to do the same.
Aislinn Wright, Director, Product Management: Stay motivated and believe in yourself. You will constantly be learning throughout your career, and keeping your drive and motivation high will be important in overcoming challenges. You will face challenges, but using those challenges as a learning opportunity will only make you stronger and more confident for the future.
Kanchan Mohitey, Senior Director, Managed Support Services: To achieve your definition of success, to take control of your future, step back and reflect on your present, always keep the broader vision in mind, and then take actions to course correct. This can help you pursue opportunities more proactively, versus reactively accepting it.
Archana Dhankar, Director, Marketing EMEA: The most important thing for young women to know is that their goals, dreams, and feats are relevant. Whether you are or are aspiring to become a CEO, a homemaker, or both, your achievements are equally valid, and your dedication to whatever you put your soul into is as significant as the next girl's.
Afsane Anand, Customer Success Manager: Go for it! No matter what career you choose for yourself, don't let anyone tell you that you are not worth it or not good at it. Other people don't know you as you know yourself. Women don't have to be either career-driven or housewives—you have the freedom to choose or do both! Whatever makes you happy.
4) What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?
Theresa Colarusso, VP, Customer Success: I worked for an amazing woman several years ago who continues to mentor me today. We worked for a Marketing tech company, and I was really stressed out about some customer situations. She said to me, “We're not delivering hearts or livers. We're delivering emails!” It's something that I have repeated throughout the years to help reset perspective when stress is high and the challenges seem insurmountable. Take your job seriously, work hard, achieve results— but keep a healthy perspective.
Nandini Karkare, VP, Sales Operations: My dad always said, "stay happy." I didn't like that advice much growing up, as I was often hard on myself and focused on things I didn’t get "right." Now, I think that was the most important piece of advice I have ever received. "Stay happy," and if your internal meter says you aren’t, do something about it.
Ancy Sreenivasan, Senior Director, HR: Have the courage to be different. Be your authentic self and if it makes you happy, it doesn’t have to make sense to anybody else. Enjoy your journey of life—that itself is the reward!
Grace Jephson, Executive Assistant: It’s not really advice as such, but to keep going! I like the Martin Luther King Jr. quote, ‘’If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.’’
Aislinn Wright, Director, Product Management: EDB gave me the opportunity to work with a leadership coach over this past year and one of the biggest lessons I learned was that if I changed my mindset, everything on the outside would change along with it. Nothing is ever perfect, and it’s so important not to dwell on negative situations or problems, but rather refocus your mindset on how you can overcome those situations and grow.
Rebecca Connell, Director, HR: “Remember that every day, you are building your own brand.” This has stuck with me for years and always will. Every day, and every interaction you have, people will always remember how you behaved.
Kanchan Mohitey, Senior Director, Managed Support Services: Set clear and respectful boundaries so you can focus on what matters, while maintaining your relationship. The truth is that many women find it difficult to enforce boundaries. To do so, you have to stop being nice. As women, we are often socialized to be compliant and helpful, so it becomes extra hard to push back. This isn’t easy but the more you set those boundaries, the more you’ll prove to yourself—and others—that your time and energy are as valuable as anyone else’s.
Archana Dhankar, Director, Marketing EMEA: All of us are equally capable of achieving our potential and fulfilling our dreams. The only points of differentiation are the level of dedication, will and how much time we spend working instead of complaining. So, put your head and your heart in it, work hard, and your work will speak for itself.
Meaghan Moraes, Senior Content Marketing Manager: "You can achieve anything if you work hard for it." I truly believe that with enough drive, perseverance, and grit, any woman, anyone, can make their dreams a reality.
5) Are there any women who have inspired you?
Theresa Colarusso, VP, Customer Success: I have been inspired by so many women through the years—from my own mom, to my friends who show tremendous strength, grace, and humor in the face of adversity, to the women who have lifted me up professionally. I find creative inspiration in female artists from Pat Benatar, who's still singing after 40 years of making music, to Amanda Gorman, who is so young and so full of energy and light and hope for positive change. Seeing women leading large-scale organizations, and entire countries, inspires me every single day.
Ancy Sreenivasan, Senior Director, HR: Yes, many, and my top three are:
- Indra Nooyi - Her journey from being an ordinary woman from India to a powerful business leader of the world is inspiring and heart-warming. I respect her for being a rare high-powered authentic voice.
- Oprah Winfrey - She is a role model leader. Her hallmark is to always do the right thing. She inspires many with her leadership skills in terms of optimism, inclusions, compassion, justice, and ethics are very inspiring
- Sudha Murthy - Acclaimed author, philanthropist, and chairperson of Infosys Foundation, I adore her for her vivid narration that can connect you to the reality of modernism and traditionalism at its core.
Juhi Ubnare, Senior HR Generalist: I see inspiration in every woman I have met in my life, right from my mother, to teachers, friends, and colleagues at the workplace who fiercely faced difficulties in their day to day lives and are still going strong.
Grace Jephson, Executive Assistant: Princess Diana’s charity work, notably her work in raising awareness of AIDS and anti landmines, as well as her generous and inclusive manner inspires me. The Williams sisters’ incredible sporting achievements and strength is aspirational to me and so many other people around the world. I do feel we can draw inspiration from each other and feel each woman is inspirational in her own way. I am currently astounded and in awe of the strength and courage shown by women all over the world who are displaced or experiencing conflict.
Shannon Ray-Bernard, HR Systems Analyst: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was so pivotal in the fight for gender equality and helped pave the way for future generations.
Aislinn Wright, Director, Product Management: My Mom! She is a constant source of support for me. After becoming a mom myself, I realized just how much she did for me and how much she sacrificed for me.
Rebecca Connell, Director, HR: I studied at an all girls school from the age of 4, so being surrounded by smart women is something I have always been lucky enough to see. Truthfully I am inspired everyday by women I work with, my friends and my family. There are many women in history who are inspirational to me, Jacinda Ardern continues to amaze me with her work supporting equality, mental health, climate change, and has arguably the most diverse cabinet in the world.
Kanchan Mohitey, Senior Director, Managed Support Services: I have been blessed to be always surrounded by strong independent women throughout my life, be it my grandmother, mother, aunts, sisters, cousins at home to female friends and colleagues at work. They have contributed and shaped the person I am today. Every day brings new inspiration from the small things that I listen to, experience, and witness around. So I think it would be very difficult and unfair if I single out single women as inspiration for me.
Archana Dhankar, Director, Marketing EMEA: From amongst the crème-de-la-crème of the world, I have always been in awe of Oprah—talk show host, author, philanthropist and more; Kamala Harris—attorney-turned politician and current Vice President of USA; and Serena Williams—former World No. 1 tennis player, fashion designer, and mother. They have all achieved great success with their hard work and dedication, but we can find inspiration all around us. Women inspire women all the time, as they should, and lift each other.
Karen Blatchley, IT Project Lead: There isn't one single person, but all the women in my life that inspire me on a daily basis. The women I see achieving greatness and I want to follow their lead. The women that challenge me to go out of my comfort zone and push myself further and the women that are my cheerleaders and support me in everything that I do. I hope that they see me doing the same for them.
Afsane Anand, Customer Success Manager: Being older now and looking back, I really admire my mom for her strength and drive. She married young, had 3 children, moved with her husband from her home country Germany to Iran, learned a new language, got a degree via a German open university, all while looking after 3 kids and having a part time job. Her confidence in me was high enough (which made me confident) to let me relocate back to Germany alone when I was 18. Shortly after, she and my younger siblings came as well, due to my mom finding a job in Germany. She now has a higher degree (never stop learning) and a higher management position.
Driving Equality Forward
EDB firmly supports the empowerment of all women across the globe and is dedicated to driving equality forward. Let's use the opportunity of International Women's Day to truly push the gender agenda further and make positive gains for women and girls worldwide.
We encourage all women in tech to join our team of hardworking, creative, empowered people—united to innovate and inspire.