Take the #ChooseToChallenge pledge for International Women’s Day

In celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day, we look at ways to challenge today’s workforce to build a more gender-equal world.

International Women's Day 2021 | Synopsys

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #ChooseToChallenge. What a great pledge. 

As a woman working in technology, I’m a strong believer that confidence is key. The true key to success is making sure your opinions and ideas are heard, and being confident in your vision for what you want to achieve. In a field predominantly populated by men, women can defy the stereotype of what an engineer looks like by showcasing their expertise and taking a leadership role in implementing cutting-edge tools and processes. Early on in my career I realized that I needed to focus on my skills and ability to communicate effectively in order to gain the trust and respect of my colleagues. In other words, confidence and speaking skills are key to success. 

For anyone reading this blog on this International Women’s Day, pledge to challenge the status quo. From challenge comes change, and when you pledge to make change happen, speak up, and speak up with confidence.

Recognize the challenges women still face

I have been asked about the hurdles women in tech face at every event I have participated in. The biggest challenge I’ve seen and faced myself is that unfortunately, women still need to work harder than their male counterparts to be successful in this industry. As women, we have to prove time and time again that we are equally qualified and competent to successfully complete any task in the workplace. There have been several instances in which I have been underappreciated for my work. 

One of the starkest instances of sexism that I experienced in my career still haunts me. Years ago, a male colleague often worked nights and weekends, making changes without any requirements. I was left wondering how the code changed, what requirements the changes were meeting, and why I wasn’t included in any of the conversations or email chains. However, every time I missed a deadline for not knowing what the requirements were, he blamed me for the missed deadlines. Soon I learned to email him about the new changes, what requirements they met, and when they were included. This paper trail proved to be a lifesaver: The emails illustrated to upper-level managers that I wasn’t the cause of all the missed deadlines. 

I was amazed that people in leadership positions behaved this way. I later found out that this wasn’t first time my colleague had acted in this way. I’m also happy to report that my organization at the time responded to his undermining and inappropriate behavior by inviting him to find employment elsewhere.

Choose to challenge inequity

Virtually all women have dealt with similar situations in the workplace, whether they are young professionals working on a group project or a female CEO of Fortune 500 company. As women, we must advocate for the work we have done and take credit where credit is due. I love changing people’s perceptions of how capable women are. Again, pledging to speak up and speak up with confidence is the way to overcome these challenges. 

Build an environment that values women’s contributions

International Women's Day building environment | Synopsys

It’s essential to create an environment where women can speak up and be recognized. For me, being able to talk about my own challenges and how I overcame them is key. Mentoring, acting as a role model, and inspiring women to find passion in the work they do goes hand-in-hand with helping them fight back against the day-to-day challenges they face as women. 

Everyone, regardless of role, can pledge to build a work environment where everyone is welcome. Talk to your peers and managers when you see or hear someone being excluded, devalued, or mistreated. Diversity in an organization doesn’t get us anywhere if we aren’t making sure that everyone’s unique contributions are valued. Each individual in an organization should feel like they belong there. 

Start the conversation

It’s key to empower all voices and promote inclusion for one and all. Talking about diversity is a good start—everyone should understand that inclusivity provides many benefits within an organization. Diversity can help ensure a more productive, innovative, and creative workplace; a more respectful and positive workplace culture; and above all, employees who are happy create an organization with high employee morale. But it’s not always easy to have those conversations. We might start by having them within our own homes, our own inner circles, and then having those tough conversations at our workplace.

Be an advocate

Being an advocate is vital no matter what position you hold in your organization. Making sure everyone in the workplace feels they are important, are able to express their ideas, and are wanted is key. When I first began travelling around the world and working with Fortune 500 companies, I struggled because I didn’t have any female role models, anyone to talk to, anyone to share my challenges or even my thoughts with. However, I was able to rely on mentors who helped me achieve my goals. That experience is why I vowed to be an advocate for women who were nervous to raise their voice, share their challenges, or speak up.

Take the #ChoosetoChallenge pledge

For all the women who are pioneers: Lead with your voice, be an advocate. Help other women, mentor them, and above all challenge them and help change the conversation. And for all women in the workforce, whether you are a seasoned veteran or just starting out: Be bold, be the change you want to see, be vocal, be confident, and above all: be yourself. Happy International Women’s Day 2021.

Join the conversation

Please join me and our panel of women from Synopsys—Chief Security Officer Deirdre Hanford and Product Marketing Manager Niyati Shah—as we take questions about navigating gender diversity and women’s empowerment in our upcoming International Women’s Day webinar on March 8 at 3pm EST. 

For those in EMEA, we have another International Women’s Day webinar featuring: Ilona Herbent, Senior Manager CSM and Molka Elleuch, Cybersecurity Engineer and Per-Olof Persson, Strategic Security Evangelist at Synopsys, on March 8 at 10am GMT.

Synopsys will donate $5 to Girls Who Code for every webinar attendee.

Meera Rao

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Meera Rao

Meera Rao

Meera Rao (Subbarao) is a senior director for product management (DevOps solutions) at Synopsys. She has over 20 years of experience in software development organizations in a variety of roles including Architect, Lead Developer, Project Manager, and Security Architect. Meera has overseen and performed secure code reviews, static analysis implementations, architectural risk analyses, secure design reviews, and threat modeling of systems built from a few thousand lines of code to systems containing tens of millions of lines of code. She has developed multiple Synopsys training courses and is a certified instructor in architectural risk analysis, threat modeling, and more.

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