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At CSG Talent, we have carried out research over the last six months aimed at reviewing and improving female representation in STEM and all industries in which we operate. With such a range of industries, our research has covered topics from building up women in engineering, to taking a deep dive into how diverse mining really is today.
Across sectors, much of our research pointed towards the significant impact female role models can have and how vital they are to inspire the next generation of ambitious women.
Why Are Female Role Models Important?
Female role models are important because they inspire girls to achieve their full potential. Certainly, the phrase seeing is believing seems an appropriate way of summarising the pivotal role influential female figures can have. Gayatri Shenai, a partner in McKinsey Digital and founder of the annual Women in Technology and Operations conference reflected: “I work a lot with women who talk about how stressful and challenging the experience of being the only woman in a work setting is,” she concluded, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
Similarly, CSG candidate, Meg Sherman, told us how “Having a female professor who became dean of the school was really cool. She was an influential person for me. Seeing a woman in structural engineering, focusing on concrete design, in an area where I didn’t have a lot of women in my classes. To see her in this role was really inspirational.”
Women like Nancy Pelosi waving the flag for gender representation at the greatest level, as the highest-ranking elected female in the US in her role as Speaker of the House.
An inspirational woman of colour, Ngozi Okonojo-Iweala, Global Economist, served as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance for two terms, championing campaigns to stamp out corruption and cronyism that was costing the Nigerian people $15 billion.
But Ngozi didn’t stop there. In 2021, she became the first female director-general for the World Trade Organisation (WTO), making her the first African woman to lead the WTO.
Influential Women in Politics:
Without a doubt, influential women in government offices serve as a beacon of hope - not just for those looking to get into politics, but for those facing adversity. Take Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC to her fans). Born in the Bronx to a Puerto Rican family, AOC learned the skills of her trade through volunteer work, university, and bartending. In 2008, while Ocasio-Cortez was a sophomore, her father died of lung cancer.
After he died, AOC endured several legal hurdles when settling his estate. She has said that the experience helped her learn how attorneys can be corrupt. AOC used this dark time to fuel her passion to better the society she lived in and just ten years later, she became the youngest-ever politician to be elected to office in the United States House of Representatives.
AOC continues to advocate against corruption and has no problem calling out injustice when she sees it, evident in many viral social media videos. She inspires young girls and the wider community through her work - through her dedication to climate policy, being a frontrunner in the ‘new green deal’ movement, a plan to get the world to zero emissions by 2050.
Women Behind Big Ideas:
When asked the question, ‘what are the biggest ideas of the 21st century?’, most people think of technology. Big ideas such as Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, Steve Jobs’s revolutionary iPod are well known and documented. But how many people know about Susan Wojcicki’s Youtube/Google merger? Indeed, Susan Wojcicki played a vital role in transforming Google from a source of written information into the multimedia fountain of knowledge we turn to for answers daily.
After graduating University, Wojcicki started her career in a marketing role for technology firm, Intel. Here, she made a mutual friend who introduced her to Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google. Innocent enough, Page and Brin would later remember their meeting and rented Wojcicki’s garage to build the foundations of the search engine.
Naturally, they offered her a job and in 1999, she became Google’s 16th employee holding the role of Marketing Manager. A natural talent, she flew up the ranks progressing to Senior Vice President of Advertising and Commerce, where she also oversaw Google’s Google Video Service – YouTube’s competitor at the time.
Most notably, it was Wojcicki that saw YouTube’s potential and proposed Google’s purchase of YouTube. Seeing the vision, the board agreed and Wojcicki oversaw its acquisition for $1.65 billion.
A good spot: in 2021, YouTube's advertising revenue accounted for approximately 11.2% of Google's total revenue. That year, the video platform's annual ad revenues amounted to 28.84 billion U.S. dollars, up from 19.77 billion U.S. dollars in the previous year.
Similarly, another inspirational female, Whitney Wolfe-Herd, spotted an opportunity within her niche market.
After a brief stint designing charitable tote bags for the oil spill of 2010, Wolfe-Herd joined a company called Hatch Labs. Here, she met Sean Rad and became involved with a small start-up. The project was unsuccessful however, her connections and obvious talent did not go unnoticed. Rad invited her to join his next venture, a little dating app called Tinder.
Although, at this stage, the infamous dating app did not have a finalised name. Enter marketing manager, Wolfe-Herd. Credited for creating the app’s name, Wolfe-Herd is also responsible for the app's signature flame logo - a reference to her having to use small sticks (tinder) to start the fireplace at her father’s cabin in Montana.
Significantly, Wolfe-Herd left Tinder in 2014 after disagreements over the direction of the brand. Confident, motivated and full of ideas, Wolfe-Herd set about creating her own dating app designed to give women more control. And just like that, Bumble was born.
By 2017, Bumble had amassed over 22 million registered users.
With a net worth of over $290 million at the age of just 30, Wolfe-Herd is arguably one of the most important women in tech today. Not only this, but she is also the CEO of the newly acquired MagicLab - the parent company of dating apps Bumble, Latch and Badoo. Collectively, MagicLab is estimated to have over 75 million users across its entire portfolio - a lot of data!
When quizzed about her ambition Wolfe-Herd responded: “How does a queen bee behave? However she wants to. But please don't wait for someone to hold the door open for you when your own arms work perfectly fine - do it yourself.”
These women have both made an incredible impact and demonstrated stories of success, but are they well known enough to inspire and influence others?
They certainly should be. But, are most familiar with the names of Zuckerberg and Jobs rather than Wojcicki or Wolfe-Herd?
The achievements and success of both Wojcicki and Wolfe-Herd aren’t as recognised as those of males in their field and this is part of the problem. Women lack exposure and presence.
Insights and thoughts from females at CSG Talent…
Courtney Waring, Specialist recruiter for Critical Care, believes that there should be more done to help women re-enter the workforce. She told us “There can be gaps in CVs on female resumes and establishing why that gap is there is important. It is significant information for us to feed this back to the client. We help with that, especially at CSG.”
Christina Theoklitou-Panagiotou, Principal Consultant in Mining Recruitment told us about a memorable CSG candidate named Jess. Australian, bold and unapologetic, Christina revealed “If Jess was a man, her actions would be seen as progressive. But instead, she has been restricted and faced challenge. There is an issue with males not knowing how to manage females, specifically those who are confident speaking out and challenging the status quo.”
In mining, there is still a stark contrast in the attitudes towards women in the workforce between countries. Christina told us that “it’s only recently that Africa has looked at women in mining in a different way. The same with Russia and South America.” She explained that having a visible list of the “100 most influential women” and different influential awards out there for females to follow and open doors to opportunities is so important.”
Steph Rae, Head of the CSG Recruitment Academy and member of CSG’s D&I committee revealed that she found recruitment training specialist Holly Arden to be a strong female role model when starting her journey. Steph detailed “Holly was a mum of two and commanded a real balance despite being in a man’s world. To me, that was inspiring and led me to consider the next stage of my career.”
Steph also revealed that her training program for the latest CSG cohort places a major focus on advert training and communication styles, making sure there is a clear DE&I focus. Ensuring recruitment consultants are aware of gender bias and the use of neutral language in order to attract more female candidates.
Looking to the future:
As displayed by just the small handful of influential women highlighted, women have always innovated, created and changed the world we live in for the better. We all maybe just need to get a bit better at celebrating and championing these incredible women, to give them the exposure essential to having more influential figures.
At CSG Talent, we recognise the key influential role we have with our colleagues, clients and candidates. We can champion and encourage new talent, regardless of their gender. We can emphasise the importance of role models and ensuring inspirational stories are heard. There is still a long way to go to increase female presence in male dominated industries, and to see more exposure of females in leadership roles. But, it’s encouraging to see awareness and education of biases that need to be broken alongside positive steps moving forward.
Looking to explore further? See below a range of articles where you can explore key topics and insights centred around International Women’s Day and breaking the bias around gender in the workplace: