Within the past few months, I was fortunate enough to represent Schellman & Company at various women’s leadership conferences. These events were industry-specific, with one being geared towards women in technology and the other towards women in accounting. Among the vast technical topics and working sessions, there were many keynotes and break-out meetings focused on the female struggle in the workplace and how working women can find a voice, climb the ranks, achieve personal life balance—in other words, have it all. Though both the technology and accounting industries are overwhelmingly male, the women at these conferences did not point the finger and blame men; rather, they created positive forums where women were able to share experiences and help one another become their best selves.
Truthfully, I don’t often think about that fact that I work in male-dominated industries. I was raised in a home where my mother was the backbone of our family and my father treated me just like anyone might treat a son, assigning me chores like chopping wood for our furnace and requiring me to learn to change the oil and a flat tire on a car before I could get my driving permit. Whatever I set out to do, both of my parents provided me with unconditional support and guidance—I was their child, no female distinction attached.
Throughout my professional career, I would say that my experience has been much the same, as I have been fortuitous enough to only work at firms with a strong focus on a company culture that rewards all employees based on merit, rather than a ‘good ole boy’ mentality that limits upward mobility of anyone not included within the inner circle. And though I have only worked for two different companies to date, both have elevated and feature women in the most senior leadership positions. Because of my experience in these environments, I think, at times, that perhaps my view is somewhat limited, as not every woman has been afforded these opportunities—whether it be during their formative years or in their professional careers.
It’s no surprise then that it is during these women’s summits that I am mostly reminded of any widespread, professional discrepancies between the genders—though we have come a long way as a society, the obstacles that women face in the workplace, and more specifically in male-dominated industries, are still very real. Having recently been reminded at these events, I know now that we need to be very mindful of the women around us, even during the hustle of the day-to-day. We need to lift other women and be champions and role models for them, and most importantly, we need to celebrate all female success as though it is our own.