17.03.2021 | 3 min read

Breaking gender bias in the technology sector

Global Sales Director, Lotte Bayly
Lotte at the WayBeyond head office in Auckland, New Zealand.

Lotte is the Global Sales Director at WayBeyond and has a successful career in the tech sector. Here she shares her words of wisdom and experiences breaking the bias, including the dilemma of imposter syndrome.

How’s your gender bias journey been so far?

I think I was really lucky when I moved to the next level of management in my career. At the time, the company I started with was the largest I.T. company in the world and we had a large number of female leaders. Our president globally was a female, and we had two female general managers in my division. We also had a really good split of women and men on the job who were actually really supportive of each other. It also didn't really matter whether you were a man or a woman which I think was really important.

But one thing that really stood out with me was that a couple of years later, when I moved into enterprise services, it was hugely male dominated, and I was the only female leader on the team when I started. It was so different to my previous role, and I think to a certain degree, I was probably just ticking a box for them to get more women onboard.

One of the challenges was there was a lot of encouragement to hire from within – promote internally. On the face of it, that sounds like a great idea and in most cases it would be. But when the majority of your pool of eligible candidates are male, you’re going to end up with more male leaders. Thankfully they appointed more women to the leadership team and we ended up with a great split and great diverse talent.

The biggest challenge in my career though was being a mother while holding onto a successful career. Each time I was pregnant with my two children I lost my job. One, a week after returning from 6 months maternity leave, and the other while on maternity leave. Although I’m not accusing businesses of bias against mothers, you do feel like the cards are stacked against you. Certainly, during the first pregnancy they didn’t believe I could do the job any longer and be a parent at the same time. The second time it happened it was circumstantial as the company was sold and we mutually agreed to part ways. I wouldn’t have had to do that if it wasn’t because of having another child, but I also understood that the company tried to look for another suitable role for me while still allowing me time off. It just didn’t work out.

Was there a ‘Boys Club’ attitude?

I think there was a bit of a Boys Club but I also think that applied to men as well. If they didn’t play by those rules they were just as excluded as women. I think today a lot of men have stopped subscribing to that ideal so it’s not as prevalent. I think it’s not just us women who aren’t letting that happen anymore, and that we’re standing up for ourselves and taking credit where credit is due. I think it's also men that have stopped subscribing to it.

I remember going on a management course for women and it was a little bit of an eye opener. One coach said the biggest problem with women today is that they always compete with the women. First, you've got to turn up at that table and compete with everyone around you. But women always see other women as their biggest threat.

That concept made me want to support women even more and stop that negative competition happening because ultimately, we're all working for the same goal. You will always bring something to the table, and you've got to recognize that other people bring something equally good to the table, whether they're male or female.

That is the amazing thing about working at WayBeyond. I’ll be sitting in a meeting and look around and think wow, a large percentage of people in this room are female. We’ve got a great split of male to female ratio, cultures, ages and ethnicities. We have women in roles that traditionally would be men and actually vice versa. All of it. We’re a unicorn in the industry.

Have you ever had imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is an interesting one where you doubt your abilities or feel like a fraud. I suppose there’s been times when I've thought “Oh shit can I actually do this job” but then I remind myself that no one knows how to do the job until they've done it. You just have to trust in your own abilities that if you work hard, work smart, you will work it out. I think everyone has a fear of failing but I think the best thing is just to work hard at it.

I know so many of my female colleagues over the years and peers and managers have suffered from imposter syndrome. I don't know if that's something men suffer from. Maybe they can have insecurities, but imposter syndrome is different. You never know how to do the job until you've done it and that's the same for everyone. Imposter syndrome implies that you're trying to pretend that you can do something that you can't, but you've just taken on this role. Give yourself some time. Learn the ropes. Figure it out. If you really can't do it, step aside and let someone else do it.

We're not all going to win the Nobel Peace Prize, right? And that's OK, but I remember growing up my mom always saying to me “you can be whatever you want to be. I know you're smart enough, so you want to be a lawyer. You can be a lawyer if you work at it.” Technology wasnt a conscious decision for me. I happened to fall into it and it turned out that my skills have been very applicable. I do think though that being brought up in Denmark, where genders seemed less important, helped me early in my career because I didn’t have those gender notions.

So often it’s how you were raised. For example, if you tell your children that they're beautiful and wonderful and amazing in everything they do, that's just lifting them up to fail because they'll have really high expectations and really high thoughts of themselves and not understand what is required to succeed. But if you tell your children that you can be anything you want - if you work for it – then it instils the ethics of hard work to gain success.

I’ve always made sure I work hard for what I want and teach my children the same ideals, both for my son and for my daughter. My husband is the same. He teaches our kids equally and without bias. I am lucky to have a husband who is strong enough in himself and confident to be supportive of my career and step up to the task of equal parenting. He wants to raise his daughter to be a strong independent woman too.

Lotte in a planning session with the WayBeyond team

Featured Resources

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. In fringilla ultricies lacinia. Nulla rhoncus ac sapien eget efficitur.