In a world where women experience bias on a daily basis, has anything changed? At the international Stockholm Gender Forum in April last year, data was presented that confirms bias. Here is one example:  Young men are seen as ‘Young and promising.’ Women, well, we’re ‘Young and inexperienced’.

You can read more here.

In this article, I want to focus on the positive. There is work to be done. And people are doing it.

The IT industry is not exactly known for being inclusive, in fact it’s still one of the toughest environments for women to work.

IntegrationQA, an Australasian niche IT company, is working to change this. Given most of our women are co-located with clients, we were curious to find out: ‘What’s it like out there?’ And what better way to start the conversation than over lunch, which is exactly what we did.

And the verdict from a one lunch experiment? By and large, women in iQA are pretty happy! Onsite they feel supported, listened to and able to speak up. Digging a little deeper, this is more likely to be the case where the teams have more equal gender balance, and especially so when the teams are led by women. Where the balance isn’t quite as even, the same old patterns rear their heads. Things like ‘I have to work hard to get a word in, let alone finish my sentence’, Then there is the significant matter of being taken seriously as we do get heard. I mean, seriously?

We shifted the focus to iQA itself, where the experience is also pretty positive. Our leadership is described as supportive, helpful and flexible. The management structure itself is flat, everyone is invited to participate and have their say. That’s not to say we haven’t got more to do. In a followup chat with one of our Australian counterparts, they were quick to point out they are playing catch-up in the gender balance game.

Conversation moved to that other favourite topic when women get together – juggling our work and personal lives. Shifting the balance here is another thing altogether, with family responsibilities featuring large in the dialogue. Who else can relate to the need to schedule work meetings around the cadence and reality of breastfeeding? Flexible working, including the ability to remote-work is appreciated, used and highly valued by the gals in our team. It means we get to participate. It’s not so long ago that participating itself was in the too hard basket for many. Still, the load we carry in our family lives is real, caring roles feature prominently, and our commitments are never far from our mind. People depend on us, literally!

Whatever progress we make, some things will take much longer to change. It’s good to know iQA is leaping ahead and getting on with it.