International Women’s Day 2018: Celebrating women in technology
Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day. It’s a global day celebrating women’s equality, and the political, economic, and social achievements of women. To honor this day, we’re asking a few of our inspiring Unity women what this day means to them.
We encourage you to take a moment to read their responses and celebrate the important women who inspire you.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Sarah Levantine (Technical Program Manager): To me, this is a day to reflect on the power and potential of women around the world. We can take the opportunity to honor influential women who have come before us, and to lift up those who will follow. Of course we want to do this every day, but setting aside a specific occasion really shines a light on the best of our gender.
Lisa Eliasson (BD/Evangelism Coordinator): International Women’s Day is something I have celebrated for as long as I can remember. It is a beautiful day to celebrate women, to learn about their accomplishments, and to lift up one another. But it is also a very important day to learn about the different hardships women across the world are facing, and how we can work together to move towards a more equal society.
Kaisa Salakka (Product Director): I would like to live in a world where Women’s Day wouldn’t be needed. In a world where everyone is given an equal opportunity to participate and succeed. Since that’s not the case yet, Women’s Day raises the awareness of inequality in the society and celebrates the progress we have made during the past decades.
What does it mean to be a woman in the part of the world and society that you live in?
Silvia Rasheva (Producer): Nowadays I live in Sweden, a country which is a global leader in gender equality, and I have to say that as a foreigner the difference is very obvious to me. It shines through the most mundane aspects of community life. For instance, a Swedish phenomenon that usually surprises foreigners is the amount of dads with strollers that you see in public spaces, pushing the stroller or playing with their kids in the parks. It’s an effect of the Swedish policy on parental leave, which ensures both parents have generous amounts of time to spend with their child, and dividing the time equally is incentivized. Dads can afford to spend time bonding with their children, while women know that having a child will not put a disproportionately heavy burden on their careers. Sweden might not be perfect and there is still work to do, but they’ve certainly come a longer way than most others.
Cecilie Mosfeldt (QA Lead): It means to be reminded constantly of your gender. There is so much focus on what I am these days that it can be frustrating to just exist as who I am. On the other hand, this focus has provided me with a lot of opportunity. My profile is fairly rare in this business and as such I get noticed so much more and I have been afforded opportunities at conferences that may not have come my way if I was a man.
Kaisa Salakka (Product Director): Finland was the first country to give women full political rights, and is well known in fostering gender equality. We have free education and up until university studies, both genders have similar opportunities. But there is still a lot that needs to be done. Biggest issue today is that the child care duties are not sufficiently shared among men and women which shortens the careers of women and causes inequality of pay.
What barriers have you faced as a woman in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?
Sonja Ängeslevä (Product Director): Barriers are often on people’s minds because of lack of perspective and vision. I am passionate about starting something new. Several times I have faced doubts and belittling of my ideas or abilities. When that happens I just stay true to my idea and get it done. There’s a lot of uncertainty and you can’t always be 100% sure that your idea works. But then again, no one else knows either.
Akouvi Ahoomey (Senior Regional Manager, Business Development): I am a woman, furthermore I am a black woman. Being a woman is not the harder thing for me, to be honest. Being a black woman comes with some challenges that other women won’t experience. But as a woman I know I am strong; I am determined. I don’t want to let people’s conception of who they think I should be to dictate my place in the world. I was lucky enough to have moved to a different country, where the area you come from and what you look like doesn’t determine your ability or your worth. I had to be self-confident and not forget my worth. People sometimes will try to silence you, but you have to keep speaking out and be assertive and be true to yourself.
Who are your female role models?
Jocelyn Cai (Senior HR Business Partner): I am always inspired by Mother Teresa’s quote, “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.” That positive mindset can go beyond love and flow into doing ordinary things with extraordinary quality, speed, service etc – all of which are extremely applicable to our user-oriented mission at Unity.
Cecilie Mosfeldt (QA Lead): My mother is a farmer in Denmark, so I’ve grown up with a woman who has been in a very male-dominated field for all of her life. She shared many stories of how she grew her career, fought battles, and made great friends through her work. She was always empowered, so to me it was the most natural thing in the world for me to feel empowered as well. Because of that, I’ve never questioned whether I belonged in this business – if I had challenges it never occured to me that it could be because of my gender until much later in my career. It’s be a great resource to have her to learn from and share my own experiences with and she is a continuous reminder for me to move forward and do the right thing.
Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women pursuing a career in Gaming?
Lisa Eliasson (BD/Evangelism Coordinator): Find a mentor! I can’t stress enough how valuable it has been for me to have someone who I can ask questions and who is happy to give me feedback on my work. A lot of companies and studios have mentor programs where they can help finding you a mentor that suits you. You could also ask someone yourself outside or within your company to be an “unofficial” mentor. You’ll be surprised how many people are more than happy to be your mentor and share their knowledge!
Never stop learning, but don’t try to learn everything! The Games Industry is a very fast moving industry, it can literally look different from one month to another. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and think you need to learn everything to be successful – don’t! Find what you love and focus on that, then the rest will follow.
Sophia Clarke (Software Development Engineer in Test): Most of my advice is focused on pursuing paths in engineering, which is what I did, but hopefully some of this advice can be applied to other areas, too.
The main piece of advice I have: don’t give up. For example, one particular tutorial series not clicking for you doesn’t mean you can’t do it; it just means that particular style of teaching isn’t for you. The internet is vast and full of knowledge, so there will always be something that works for you – ask around and find out what worked for other people!
I’d also advise people to put the time in to learn their craft. When I was teaching myself to code, I tried to spend at least an hour every day doing some sort of coding. A lot of coding is about logic and recognizing patterns, so the best way to learn is by practicing.
Lastly, go to your local games industry meetups. This one applies to everyone, not just developers! Find out if there are Unity User Groups near you, or maybe a group of indie developers that get together at the pub. It’s a great way to make connections (and friends!) within the industry, and learn about what other people are working towards.
We hope you were inspired by our contributors and we encourage you to continue supporting women in the technology community. This can range from playing games created by women and finding local Women in Tech groups, to mentoring and recruiting more women to work in technology. All these actions will help to make the tech industry a better and more inclusive place to work.