Like many other employers, SSC Laser continually strives to help build a more gender-equal workplace and team. This year we celebrate International Women’s Day, where the theme is #choosetochallenge, highlighting the importance of challenging gender inequality in the workplace head-on.
SSC Laser is committed to celebrating the achievements of the women who help make us one of the UK’s leading laser cutting sub-contractors and want to further highlight the need for gender equality in the workplace.
To celebrate IWD21, we took a little time to sit down with some of the team to discuss what International Women’s Day means to them and how they’ve used the #choosetochallenge ethos in their careers.
What have been the biggest challenges of your career to date?
Nadia (Customer Sales & Support): Day to day life is a challenge in itself. Life is hectic, juggling a family and a career whilst my husband worked away from home several days each week.
Olivia (Customer Sales & Support): The biggest challenge of my career to date is changing into a completely new industry as I only joined SSC last week. Whilst exciting, it has also been nerve-racking at the same time, although everyone has immediately made me feel really welcome and a part of the team.
Vanessa (Purchasing): Overcoming negativity whilst also helping drive positive change. The recent COVID pandemic and the imposed restrictions have also proved challenging for everyone.
Tracey (Customer Sales & Support): Setting up a new division in a company where the staff and customers were predominantly Afrikaans speaking. At SSC, learning as much as possible about metals to help provide a high-quality service to our customers.
Kathryn (Customer Sales & Support): Balancing Mum life and work life. I want to be the best Mum ever to my little girl, but I also strive to succeed and continuously progress at work.
The biggest challenge of being a woman in your industry?
Vanessa: Being accepted and valued for my capabilities. Appreciation for driving change for the benefit of business, without being stereotyped as an “interfering female”.
Rose: I have worked in the engineering industry previously. I was the only female of the 48 students in my electronic engineering course at university. I was also the first and only female production engineer in my previous workplace. The challenge has always been to prove that I can do the job. For me, it helps that I’ve always been competitive with myself.
Tracey: People assuming that I won’t know technical info because I am a woman.
Kathryn: Not just in our industry but all round. Women should be able to stand up for themselves, be passionate about a cause and express their feelings positively or negatively without being accused of being “too emotional” or “hormonal.”
What have been your biggest challenges and achievements in your career?
Nadia: Wanting a career path change and putting myself out of my comfort zone to achieve it, being recognised with awards and certificates from managers and feedback from customers and as a consequence receiving a promotion for my merits.
Olivia: To step into a new role to kickstart my career at SSC.
Vanessa: Taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging my capabilities, remaining positive, and looking towards the main objective. However, it’s been challenging at times. I’ve stayed focused on the goal. Understanding you cannot change how people think, but you can change how you interact with people to achieve your goal.
Rose: When I was juggling full-time work, taking care of my primary school children (at the time, my husband was also working away from home) and taking on PRINCE2 & APMP qualifications. It was a tough few months, but I came away from it, achieving what I set to complete and even being offered to become a PRINCE2 trainer.
Tracey: Opening and running a new branch for a steel supply company from scratch.
Kathryn: Being nominated for and awarded the Bronze and Silver awards in my previous role for my hard work and dedication. I was the first member of office staff to be awarded the Bronze recognition award, so when I also received the Silver Recognition award the following year, I was thrilled.
How do you think you have used the #choosetochallenge ethos in your career?
Olivia: If I feel confident in something I do or complete, I want to be challenged further to achieve more.
Vanessa: Challenging stereotypical behaviours, guiding individuals into taking a different view.
Tracey: Always make sure to work for a progressive employer, one that works towards equality.Kathryn: I am a firm believer that people should be treated equally regardless of gender or identity, and I am not afraid to speak up if I feel somebody is being treated unfairly.
What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?
Nadia: I chose to send my children (one boy, one girl) to The JCB Academy, predominantly engineering-based. Previously engineering was a very male orientated career, but with the help of academies like this, there are many more females stepping into these positions and thriving.
Olivia: There are many more women in leadership roles, indicating more gender equality than ever before. Being a woman does not impact advances in your career as much as it has in the past.
Vanessa: I’ve seen a difference over the years for the better. Unfortunately, I don’t believe we’ll ever fully eradicate gender inequality. We just have to make sure people know we’re here & we won’t be silent.
Tracey: There are a lot more women in the industry now than when I started.
Kathryn: I think we have come a long way over the last few years, for example, large companies choosing to publish the salaries of all staff members; however, there is still a lot to be done!
What are your thoughts on having more leadership teams with greater equality?
Olivia: I think more women should be in leadership roles to inspire young girls who aspire to lead future generations one day.
Vanessa: I don’t feel we necessarily need more women in leadership. I think these statements just fuel stereotypical comments. When looking at Leadership, whoever it may be male, female or other, they should be in that position because they’ve got the capabilities & worked hard to get there.
Rose: To be a role model for others. To set precedence, to motivate, to pave the way for other women – that it can be done, it has been done. ‘So why not you?’ and ‘why not her?’ kind of mentality, so that half of the world’s population can reach their full potential too.
Tracey: Women are good at multi-tasking, teamwork and crisis handling. Most women are motivated by challenges. But a person should be considered for any leadership role due to their abilities, not gender.
Kathryn: Women can often come at a challenge from a different angle and offer an alternative point of view. I believe the best companies are those run by a combination of strong women and men, who work together and respect each other regardless of gender.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Olivia: International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women’s equality and inspire each other with the achievements we have made.
Tracey: A day to celebrate how far women have come
Kathryn: A celebration of how far we have come regarding women’s rights and equality and highlighting the work that still needs to be done going forward.
What’s your International Women’s Day message?
Nadia: Put your doubts aside and believe in yourself.
Olivia: Take on challenges even if they seem intimidating at first; they may become one of your proudest moments.
Vanessa: Never be afraid to challenge other people’s views. Always be true to yourself.
Tracey: Never believe anyone who tells you that you can’t do something because you are a woman
Kathryn: If you work hard and believe in yourself, anything is possible.
SSC are so proud of what the inspirational women in our team have achieved in their careers and we hope to celebrate many more in the years to come. We want to take the time to thank everyone who took the time to take part in this year’s International Women’s Day blog.
If you have been inspired by this blog and would like to start a career in engineering or work for a progressive employer, like SSC, visit our careers page: https://www.ssclaser.co.uk/careers/