Diversity and inclusion for women in the workplace have come a long way, with women achieving remarkable strides in various professional spheres, including technology.
But did you know that women only hold 17.6% of chair positions, with 19.4% being CEOs, and 34.5% being key management personnel? Although this is fantastic, we've still got a long way to go. Want to read the stats firsthand? Knock yourself out with these percentages on the Australian Government Gender Equality Workplace page.
We want to celebrate these women and their journeys—specifically in the tech and digital world—so we've created ‘Just Digital Women’, a series where women in the industry share their opinions and thoughts on topics covering all things from work to personal balance in the hopes that we can inspire the next generation.
Our first guest on Just Digital Women is the Head of Technology at cultivated meat facility Vow, Katie Bashant Day, PhD. Here's a snippet of the chat between her and our Software Development Consultant Rachel Comber for the first instalment of this series.
Read what Katie Bashant Day, PhD has to say…
Can you tell us about Vow?
"Vow is a world-leading Australian food company, and we are creating cultured meat products that meat-eaters will choose selfishly. We are creating new delicious and nutritious meat products that can't be found anywhere else, and doing it in a sustainable way."
What was the biggest obstacle you faced when becoming Head of Technology at Vow, and how did you get around it?
"I think for me, the biggest obstacle that I faced was having the confidence to say, 'I can do this role' and be good at it and saying that to the CEO and backing myself.
When I went to the CEO and said, 'I think I can take on this role', he was willing to take a chance on me. That confidence gap was something that he later said he was really looking for in me. So, when I said I believed I could do it, that was something that he thought very highly of."
What are the positives and negatives of having a leadership position?
"I love my role in a lot of ways because I have a ton of ownership over the R&D at Vow as well as the people elements of my team. It’s empowering because I know that if there's a problem on my team or with the tech that if I talk to the right people and make the right decisions, I can make things better.
On the flip side, there is substantially more pressure because you need to try to find the right ideas. That's one of the challenges of a leadership role, especially when you have quite a big team, because there's probably going to be somebody who doesn't like a decision you've made, and so you have to be comfortable with the idea of not being liked all the time. That's something I've had to get more comfortable with during my time at Vow.
At the end of the day, if I've made the best decision I can with the information I have and am willing to justify that to anybody who asks me, it should be a decision that I would be comfortable explaining to everybody. And that's been kind of the guiding star for me."
What do you know now that you wish you’d known back then?
"When I first joined Vow, I was thinking about leadership. I had this idea that good leadership was basically setting super clear expectations and genuinely caring for your team and making that obvious. And I found that's actually pretty much true. Whenever there's a breakdown in leadership, it's usually because one of those two things isn't there?
So, I think learning that is true has been a big learning for me. Also, I've learned a lot about just how important it is to have deep-rooted confidence in your own capabilities. Not in an arrogant or egotistical way, but just knowing what you can bring to the table and not being too insecure about that."
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
"For me, being warm, tough, emotionally open, but also confident. Those are the intersections I'm always playing with. I think it's about finding a way to be a leader in a way that feels authentic to you and then making sure that the environment you're in makes it okay for everyone else to be authentically themselves."
Are you passionate about tech and keen to share your thoughts? We're all ears! We want to hear from women in the industry about their insights and contributions—so drop us a comment below, we’d love to feature you.
Keep an eye peeled for our video snippets of all upcoming interviews over on our LinkedIn page too!