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Women @ work: the role of role models

Not only today’s Women’s Day, but also my yesterday’s talk with a friend make me thinking about an importance of role models in my professional life.

In my professional life I spent a lot of time working with men, but its women in my professional life who did most to help me to grow to where I am now. I have been lucky – in all my jobs I have worked with another woman – usually combining bits and pieces of being a boss, being a coach, being a friend and being a role model.

It’s only now I start to recognise how important are these relations for me. Having someone around who takes care of you while helping you to reach beyond your current capabilities. Someone more experienced, who can teach you tricks of the trade, give feedback, be patient with mistakes, yet teaching even more by being herself – successful professional who is not ashamed to show the hard work behind it and is not afraid to look a bit different – regardless if it is about doing something no one else did before, being the only woman among her peers or wearing bright colors to work.

Somehow from these relations I learn most important things about work – that a lot is possible if you give it a try and that working together is not only about working, but also about celebrating life – sharing passions, trust and care…

Last summer during gender equity session of Microsoft Research Faculty Summit someone quoted that given the same abilities women tend to be less confident than men. I started to pay attention and realised that it seems to be true: I noticed how many times I was loosing confidence and longing for reassurance myself and how much other women I’m close to tend to underestimate themselves professionally.

I guess from this perspective it’s very important to have another woman around – someone to admire, to share with, to learn from; someone who cares and coaches, helping to learn believing in yourself. I’m blessed that I have these women in my own professional life and I’m learning to play this role for others…

And, Stephanie, while it’s probably too far away from technology for women@tech, your work on this project definitely made me writing this post 🙂

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2006/03/08.html#a1736; comments are here.

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