International Women’s Day 2020

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Today is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the great achievements of women across the globe, and a reminder for us to continue to work towards gender equality. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual, a call to action for creating a more equal world for all.

At Tasktop, we value and recognize the importance of equality, and that solving difficult problems in society and tech requires different points of view and perspectives. We believe that gender equality is an essential part of what makes businesses thrive. In the words of our CEO and Founder, Dr. Mik Kersten, “The more gender, socio-economic and ethnic diversity we get into tech, the better the ideas and solutions we will discover.” In order to honour his commitment to diversity in tech, all author royalties from Project to Product, are donated to not-for-profit organizations supporting women and minorities in tech, and to the P2P scholarship. 

Mik + One Podcast: International Women’s Day Special

In honour of International Women’s Day 2020, for the fourth episode of the official Project to Product podcast, Mik + One, Dr. Mik Kersten is joined by three incredible women within the industry: Gail Murphy, Tasktop Co-Founder, and Professor of Computer Science and VP of Research and Innovation at the University of British Columbia, Nicole Bryan, Vice President of Product Development at Tasktop; and Naomi Lurie, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Tasktop. Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Some highlights from this week’s episode include:

“This episode means a lot to me. Not only do all author proceeds of Project to Product go to supporting women and minorities in technology, I also have two young daughters. I want them to grow up in a world where decisions that determine the future of technology and important topics like AI are made by more diverse teams.” – Dr. Mik Kersten

“It’s really when we have a diversity of viewpoints coming together in a work environment that we can start to create products that people actually want to use.” -Dr. Gail Murphy

“I want to see more diversity in those typical roles that are relegated to women. I think that could be a positive shift.” – Naomi Lurie

“I spent some time crafting some concrete ideas of how we could inspire more women to both come into tech, and stay in tech. I call it ‘role model ladders’.” – Nicole Bryan

Thoughts on International Women’s Day From Our Tasktopians

Why is it important to you to have women in STEM?

“Many factors contribute to the career an individual chooses. People often go into careers that they believe they will be successful in and play to their strengths. However, I don’t think there is an equal education or advocacy for girls to pursue a STEM career the way there is for boys and men. For example, if there were a school project to build a two-story structure out of items you can find on a desk, I’m sure there would be multiple successes across both boys and girls. The small difference that could change an entire future is that the boy may be told he’s a future architect when the girl might be called ‘crafty.’ While there has been immense progress in bridging the gender divide in STEM fields, an increase in education and a conscious narrative will help break down the barriers that still exist.” -Laurel Heenan, Marketing Program Manager

“The reason why having equal representation of women in STEM careers is very simple – if 50% of the population is not contributing to the primary areas that are driving the world economy, then the world is missing out on half of the possible innovation, creativity and thought that should be present. One gender brings only one perspective, only one set of experiences, only one viewpoint. Diversity is undoubtedly the ingredient that unlocks more and better ideas, new ways of executing and creating, and innovative strategies to explore. If 50% of the world’s population is not contributing to the driving force of the world economy, then we as a world population are guaranteed to have inferior products, services and infrastructures. It is as simple as that.” -Nicole Bryan, Vice President of Product Development

“As a female engineer, I would like to see more women working in this field, so that I can learn more from their experiences. Some of my challenges may not be a challenge at all for a male engineer. For example, how am I supposed to cope with my workload and family schedule right after giving birth to kids? With more case studies, and support from those who went through similar challenges, it is more likely that I could find a better solution/path to make the right decisions. Of course, I have had many amazing male coworkers who have supported me for many different challenges, which is also equally important. However, so far in engineering, most of my coworkers are male, and I would also love to learn from more females as well.” -Sumi Kim, QA Engineer 

“I don’t think anyone would deny how important STEM is for our everyday lives, so it’s important that everyone is involved in every aspect of it. Innovation requires many different ways of thinking about a problem or a solution; we need the input from the best of both male and female brains – as well as different socio-economic backgrounds.” -Tina Dankwart, Senior Value Stream Architect

What factors do you think are most important towards creating a healthy working environment for women?

“A company will succeed by focusing on, nurturing and rewarding high quality and value-driven content in the output from its individual contributors, no matter their gender. It is important for organizations not only to recognize and utilize the expertise of women in their teams, but also to clear the way for advancement of those women into leadership roles.” -Beth Beese, Territory Sales Manager



“Respect everyone – no matter what their background/biological sex and etc. We are all here to work for a better world. 

Provide constructive feedback – when an idea or opinion is presented, it needs the right feedback from the team. Whether it is useful or not – it could be an opportunity to develop the idea even further. Being silent is not good feedback. Ignoring it is even worse. Surprisingly, at a women in tech conference, a lot of women mentioned they lose their nerves when they get ignored, and it’s even a day-to-day challenge for a female leader in a chair position of an organization.” -Sumi Kim, QA Engineer 

“We need more women in all of the different roles – including leadership roles at all levels. For that to happen, we need to attract more girls into the right subjects at school. It is difficult to hire women for certain roles because simply none apply! I’m going to sound like i’m stereotyping now – but we women need to be more courageous and go for what we want to do, not hold back, and not think that we need to become more like men in order to do well. We also need to support each other more, and encourage each other. I think a lot of what holds us back is actually in our own heads – limiting what we think we can do, how we ought to be.” -Tina Dankwart, Senior Value Stream Architect

Which women inspire you, and what impact have they had on your life?

“My Grandmother had a tremendous positive impact on my life. Her inspiration and encouragement gave me the focus and drive to become the person I am today, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

She was born in England during the Great Depression, which I imagine was an incredibly challenging time to grow up in. This was, of course, followed by living through the Second World War, which meant she had to work in one of the many factories supporting England’s defence. After the war, she escaped to Australia as a young, independent woman to answer the open call from my grandfather, to join and work with him on a small farm. This was not an easy life given she had no friends or family nearby, it was an entirely different environment, and she had to constantly battle droughts and bushfires. 

My grandmother instilled in me the notion of an ‘Aussie battler,’ pushing through any obstacle before you, and inventively utilizing what is available. Education was something she strongly encouraged, going back to receive her own English degree (with honours) after raising her family, which provided me with the encouragement to pursue my own degree. She ensured that I had the necessary direction to desire a university education, and also provided whatever resources that she could to ensure I was able to attend.

It saddens me that she passed before I was able to introduce her to my own daughter. I will always remember her as a strong, independent woman and aim to live by the virtues that she encouraged.” -Matt Tilney, Solution Consultant

“My mum. She moved to another country, built her own business there and has been successfully running it ever since. She raised us on her own, and doesn’t conform to how a typical mother ‘should’ be. I always joke that one day I’ll write her a rule book… she’s meant to be sitting next to the phone, pining for her children, awaiting my call. 😉 Instead, I’ll ring her and she’s just jetted off to Easter Island, because the expedition they have been organizing has a problem and she had to go there. 

She taught me that I’m allowed to be who I am, to go for what I want to do, but also not to succumb to the pressures of having to be or achieve anything. To be happy, fulfilled, to grow and learn, to be excited about life and pursue things I find interesting and exciting, whether they fit into expectations or not. And care fiercely for the ones I love, whilst not hanging my entire being or existence on them.”  -Tina Dankwart, Senior Value Stream Architect

“All women who I meet day by day at my workplace, conferences, and all the hard working moms from my kid’s school!  They make me believe that I am doing a good job day by day. They also make me believe that I can do even more than what I am doing as a female. Their attitude towards themselves and life, and stories are always inspiring, and there is always something to learn. -Sumi Kim, QA Engineer