Given everything going on in the world right now, this year’s International Women’s Day feels more poignant and more important than ever. This year’s theme is breaking the bias, something that definitely still exists both in hospitality and particularly within the tech industry.
With that knowledge, we took some time to speak to five women across different Mews teams to understand more about their experiences of gender bias:
- Barkha Merchant, Customer Success Director
- Jas Bhangu, Demand Generation Marketing Manager
- Jovana Aničić, Product Manager
- Milka Sankovic, Finance Specialist
- Ria de Temmerman, Mews Ventures (M&A)
Why is it important to break the gender bias?
Milka: “It is more than obvious that even in the most (seemingly) open minded and developed parts of society, there is still gender based stereotyping present. These gender stereotypes created and accepted over centuries have become so deeply rooted in our society, leading to discrimination and inequality.
It is unfair to base any judgement or decision-making process on the binary idea of gender. It is important to break this mentality of generalizing characteristics and attributes of different groups of people, only based on their gender. Acceptance, giving opportunities, and treating people equally, despite of how they identify, is crucial for the safety, inclusivity, and deconstruction of these built-up perceptions related to gender-based stereotypes.”
Jas: “I started my career in engineering, a very male-dominated industry. Being a young woman of color straight out of university and going into the world of engineering, I was ignorant of what to expect. I instantly noticed gender-based discrimination within the workplace and experienced not only sexist, but also racist ‘jokes’ during the four years I was there. Whether it was done subconsciously or not, reflecting now, I realize how unacceptable it was.
Breaking gender bias provides a safer and healthier society when equal value is given to gender or any form of bias, be it conscious or subconscious. For companies, as well as it being the right thing to do, acknowledging and addressing bias has a critical role in furthering the diversity, equality and inclusion agenda. This is vital to building more sustainable, responsible, and successful businesses.”
Barkha: “Growing up as a strong headed and independent individual, I struggled to get my head around the concept of gender bias. As my dad passed away while I was still a kid, I was raised by a single mother who worked super hard, and I did not know any different. Thus, I’ve always strongly believed in equality.
However, right in my early days of professional life I was in for some rude shocks and there were some men who commented that I was given better projects and opportunities because I was a girl rather than me deserving them. The issue was not with the company not giving equal opportunities but basically because of some men feeling jealous. I can easily see these situations breaking the morale of new female working professionals and causing self-doubt."
Ria: “All people on this beautiful planet are equal; male, female, or gender neutral. Having said that, I am totally against favoring people based on their gender, religion, or color. For example, in case there is a job opening in Mews, I’m convinced this job should go to the best candidate and not to a woman because it’s that gender’s turn.”
Jovana: “Breaking the gender bias is vital for better performance across any organization. Breaking any point of bias drives innovation, collaboration, better conversations within a company. It’s also important for personal development and career advancement; a person should always feel heard – it’s necessary for personal happiness.”
What’s your experience of gender bias at Mews?
Milka: “Mews is one of the most inclusive and diverse companies I have worked for so far. Although I do not have any exact data or statistics as to what the ratio between women and men working in Mews, I can say with confidence, that I feel respected, accepted, and not the least bit judged because of me being a woman. It also makes me happy to see strong women in leading roles within the company.”
Ria: “I think Mews is currently doing a very good job. Gender equality is a recurring topic in our weekly all company virtual meeting, where our CEO, Matt, makes it very clear there should not be any gender bias or other bias in Mews.
But from what I feel, is has not always been like that. My company, Planet Winner, was acquired by Mews in December 2019. I founded the company in 1994 and developed all PMS/POS software. My husband, Dirk, joined the company in 1998.
However, when we were acquired by Mews, I was not even mentioned in the first press releases. It was all about Dirk, the CEO of Planet Winner. It was of course the first acquisition and people make mistakes, but I did not feel I was treated the same as Dirk was. Only now, after more than two years, I feel appreciated and recognized by my team, my boss and all Mewsers that I work closely together with. And it feels good.”
Barkha: “In my four plus years at Mews, I have not had one instance where the thought of gender bias crossed my mind. We are a very diverse team at Mews coming from many countries and cultural backgrounds. We all respect these differences and find our ways to best work together harmoniously – but differences based on gender... NEVER! We are all given equal opportunities based on our skills and experiences, gender is not remotely a factor influencing any opportunities, rewards or decisions at Mews.”
Jovana: “I have a feeling that vast majority of people are here because of the equality opportunities this company offers. I have personally almost never felt a form of gender bias against myself or women. At least in my department, and according to my experience, woman do have same set of opportunities.”
Jas: “I am proud to be working at Mews. For me personally, Mews is one of the most diverse and multicultural companies I have worked at, and one that focuses heavily on promoting an open-minded and inclusive atmosphere. Here at Mews, there is no preference or prejudice towards one gender over another. People are treated fairly and with respect. Women are represented in senior management roles, and everyone is given the opportunity for growth and development.”
What’s your experience as a woman in the tech industry?
Ria: “In my own company, for many years my husband Dirk and I shared the same office. When a candidate came in for an interview, it was so funny to see that they always took the chair in front of Dirk’s desk, although there was one in front of mine too. They only concentrated on him.
In every IT course I took over the years, 90% of the time I was the only woman, but happily not the quietest person. When I open my mouth, people realize that I have actually something to say and that I have a place in this men’s world. Luckily for me, I tend to open my mouth a lot.”
Jas: “I’ve been working in marketing within the tech industry for over seven years now. So far, my experience of being a woman in tech has been positive, but from what I've seen, women have to work harder to be taken seriously and to prove themselves. Today, there is still a lack of representation and a lot of progress to be made, as I believe the stats indicate under 30% of the tech workforce are women.”
Milka: “It is challenging! It feels like women have to always put in double or triple the effort just to show how good and skilled they are.
Although I studied and work in finance, I can say from what I see, that women sometimes are by default ‘discarded’ from certain positions or opportunities, only because the stereotyping that ‘men are better with technology’ and ‘tech is a toy for boys’ still stands strong.”
Jovana: “In general, I don’t pay much attention to this. I am working on myself to make sure I am aware of biases and to manage my emotions if it appears in any form (private or business wise). Looking back, there have been plenty of times that in the past, as I work in a male dominated industry (payments and tech), most of the times I am only woman on a call.”
Barkha: “I’ve worked in hospitality tech for over 10 years with many companies but mainly on the functional side. Personally, I’ve not faced any direct discrimination based on my gender (at least not that I'm aware off), but from several past conversations, I believe the world is not that fair for my female friends on the tech side of things. They need to work a lot harder to be taken seriously in a room majorly full of men. I really hope with more awareness this changes soon and everyone is treated fairly and equally on all fronts.”
Breaking the bias at Mews
We’re proud of our inclusivity at Mews, but there’s always more that can be done. Here’s Matt, our CEO, on the importance of gender equality in our company:
“The only way we will achieve our ambitious goals is if we continue to uncover our prejudices and embrace diversity in our workforce. Our efforts to drive equal pay and opportunities for women have really paid off in the past years and it is so great to see the positive impact on all parts of the organization. I’m really excited to see how we can further drive this agenda and welcome more talented women to Mews in the coming years. We have work to do but we are on the right track.”
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