As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the women of Routific. In the Canadian tech market, 2022 showed an increase of the representation of women by 2.6% from 33.2% to 35.8%. We are proud that Routific is currently 34.5 % female and 3/7 (42.85%) of our leadership team are female!
I wanted to take a few moments to ask some of our team members their thoughts on being a woman in tech.
The first lady up was Pam Sykes, lead content strategist at Routific.
Pam Sykes, Lead Content Strategist
Sarah: Pam, you come to us with two decades of experience. I want to ask you if you feel like women are treated equally at Routific and why.
Pam: When I was job hunting, I looked at the “About Us” pages of the companies I was considering to check out the composition of their teams. There was one job that looked interesting until I saw the unbroken sea of male faces, and then it was a hard nope — didn’t even bother applying. Routific really stood out.
Routific makes a clear effort to hire for diversity, so the gender balance is better than it is in a lot of tech companies. The engineering teams are more male-dominated, but that’s extremely hard to avoid and Routific is doing WAY better than most. There’s also zero sense of a power or prestige imbalance between engineering/design/marketing/sales as everyone’s salaries are based on the same compensation philosophy. That means that a marketer at a level one is being paid the exact same as an engineer at a level one — I’ve never once heard a comment about “hard” vs “soft” skills.
Sarah: Yes, those career pages are so important to ensure they showcase the diversity of a company! What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry and more specifically at Routific?
Pam: I love the focus on just doing the work, not what you look like while you’re doing it. The pressure on women in, for example, law or media to conform to certain norms of dress and appearance imposes a massive extra burden of time, focus, and money. The company culture at Routific recognizes that everyone is contributing to a team effort. I think that's an under-appreciated aspect of building a woman-friendly workplace. Or maybe woman-friendly is just human-friendly?
Sarah: Food for thought. Thank you, Pam!
Jenya Farris, Director of Product
Sarah: Jenya, do you have some tips for those entering the workforce? What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
Jenya: Focus more on what interests you and what you want to try and less on if you think you can do it or not. When you are in a position to be looking for work, just apply! Just try and go have conversations. Try to get to the point where you are having conversations with people you would be working with to understand more. Do you want to help them, do you want to collaborate with them? I wish that I had understood from an earlier age, it should not be part of your mentality to even think you may not meet the requirements of this role. You will be surprised by the opportunities you find if you put yourself first. My motto is to "swipe right more" and don't be picky at casting your net, be picky once you start talking to people. Honestly, I wish that I had followed my own advice, the times when I had followed this advice things went well for me.
Sarah: That is so true, and women often underestimate their value and do not apply. Is there any other advice you would give to someone at the start of their career or during a transition?
Jenya: I wish that I understood there are no steps backwards in your career. If you realize something is not for you, feel comfortable moving on to finding something that is for you. There are so many options, I didn't know about all of these jobs that even exist now! Get that foot in the door, regardless of if it's perfect. Do a good job, be good to people, and then feel good about moving on. Keep looking for the thing that makes you feel fulfilled. If you are a good person, you don't close doors and you can always go back and work with people again.
Sarah: Some pretty sound advice for anyone. Thank you Jenya.
Rashi, Full Stack Engineer co-op
Sarah: So Rashi, you work in a traditionally male-dominated discipline – engineering – in a male-dominated industry. What challenges have you faced as a woman in that environment and how did you deal with them?
Rashi: Honestly, since I haven’t really started my career yet and am still in school, most of my challenges have been with students. There have definitely been situations where I’ve felt muted in conversations, especially when you’re the only girl in the group. Then there’s also mansplaining which can be funny sometimes but mostly just annoying. I feel like the institution bears responsibility for raising awareness - may that be a school or a workplace. Personally, I’ve started voicing my feelings more now rather than just sitting quietly and taking it.
Sarah: Good for you. In your experience, does being a woman in your profession come with extra mental challenges that you have to overcome?
Rashi: Yeah. Again, I haven’t felt this at Routific but from school and previous experiences - the lack of female mentors, feeling singled out as the only woman in a team, the pure immaturity of men sometimes, and then unequal growth opportunities, and unequal pay - all of these things still do exist widely. The thing is these problems are so implicit that you don’t want to complain about them because you think you’re being a nuisance or that “everyone goes through it” and you should be able to too. But to be honest, it should never be that way and these do add extra mental challenges that women have to be accounted for. I am so glad that Routific takes responsibility for making sure the workspace is a safe and comfortable environment for everyone. In my opinion, it is always on the organization to remove these hurdles and the individual should never feel like their organization is against them when these situations do arise.
Suzanne Ma, Co-founder
Sarah: So, Suzanne, you're a cofounder of the company. Maybe you are the best person to answer this question as you have worked at Routific now for almost nine years! Do you feel you’ve had to work harder than male colleagues to advance your career at Routific?
Suzanne: No, not at all. At Routific, our compensation philosophy is fully transparent. That means salaries are made public within our company. Wages are not dependent on who goes to drinks with the founders, or who has better negotiation tactics, or whether you're a woman or a man. Salaries are based purely on your contribution to the company and those contributions are clearly outlined in our matrix – which has 8 levels of compensation. Routicians can see what level they’re at and why, and how they can continue to grow. I recently received a promotion after coming back from mat leave, and it was incredibly clear why I deserved that promotion. It was simply because I had taken on more work and more accountabilities. I had leveled up.
Sarah: Yes! I’m so proud of our compensation philosophy that ensures the individual is awarded a promotion based on their level of contribution to the company. It removes any potential issues of inequality based on gender and holds managers up to a standard to remove bias and focus on the role and not the individual.
There is a lot of work to do to ensure we are giving equal opportunity for women in the workplace, specifically in tech. It starts with the education system providing a place for female students regardless of the program. It then falls to the employers to ensure they have fair hiring practices and create a space for everyone to fit in and contribute, regardless of gender.
Sarah is the Director of People & Culture at Routific. She has over ten years of experience working both in Canada and Ireland. Sarah always puts people first and is passionate about building an engaging company culture where teams perform at their best.
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