It’s March, which means Team Nuance is celebrating Women’s History Month and, coming soon, International Women’s Day. While we proudly support all of our employees, this month gives us a special chance to connect with women who are leaders in their own ways in our company. In January, four women from Nuance spoke on a “Growing in the tech industry as a woman” panel with the Women in Tech club at McGill University. Hear from Dima, Senior Principal Customer Success Manager, Jessica, Sr. Director, Global R&D Ops, Mariem, Senior – UX Researcher, and Marceline, Global Alliance Manager, as they share advice and key experiences that have made them so successful both in and outside of work as empowered women.
Why do you think it’s important for women to have other women available as mentors?
Jessica: I truthfully find a diversity of mentorship is important to balance out perspectives and to understand how others think. Establish good mentorship relationships with people you trust who can provide you honest feedback and guidance.
Mariem: Even though STEM fields have come a long way in giving women a more meaningful place at the table, we still face challenges that are unique. Some of these challenges manifest in subtle ways that we might not always recognize. For these reasons, it’s important to have other women, who have walked in our shoes, as mentors to help us identify and navigate those challenges, as well as a means to amplify each other’s voices to push for change.
Marceline: We respond to things that feel familiar to us, and in all things, representation matters. Feeling like you can relate to something about what you see in a person pursuing your same interest is one step closer to seeing yourself in that space.
What has your most valuable takeaway been from working in STEM?
Dima: One thing I never learned at school is that, once you graduate, you don’t necessarily need to apply everything that you learned while doing your Bachelor’s/Master’s/PhD. In some cases, you do, but in my case, I studied electrical engineering, which I do not apply at all in my current role. However, the most valuable takeaway for me is that having this technical background really helped me gain credibility with my peers. When I work with developers, scientists, or engineers, I can understand their ‘language’ and I can even challenge them. I am still very passionate about STEM and I love how many opportunities there are to work in this space.
Jessica: There are so many career paths in STEM – it is not only the scientist in the lab or the medical doctor that are roles, but business operations and product development roles.
Mariem: When I started my career in STEM in academia, I quickly realized that to be successful in this field as a woman, and especially as a woman of color, it’s critical to believe in your purpose and vision and focus on them rather than the noise that we inevitably face.
Marceline: Gender norms around who is best at math or science or art or any other general subject are limiting, outdated, and not useful. Exploring my interests in STEM subjects has come from the center- out; it’s a natural curiosity that was supported by resources and mentors so that I could fully realize a career in this field. Where those limits were presented by anyone else to say that maybe STEM was not the right career path, since I work center-out, I know those limits are more about that person (or organization) and not about me or my ability.
What advice would you give your younger self about picking a career?
Dima: The advice I would give my younger self about picking a career is that it’s okay to keep exploring different topics/courses, as it will tell you more about what you like and what you dislike. Regardless of what degree you select – there are going to be many inter-disciplinary roles for you to choose from (like project management, product management, solutions marketing, sales etc…). Technology is ever-evolving and so are the available roles for you to build your career path.
Jessica: I still say this to my current self, as picking a career does not necessarily have to be the end-all-be-all! Career paths can be non-linear – One can study a field in school and start work in another, and then leapfrog to another. Keep listening to yourself about what brings you happiness to your work, reflect that in the career choices you make, and know that it’s ok to make giant leaps sometimes (they are often the most rewarding)!
Mariem: I would tell my younger self that only she can set her own limits, trust her abilities, and that she doesn’t need to know or master everything to pursue a career in STEM.
Marceline: I’d give the same advice my mother always gave me, “Tell people your plans”. Sharing my goals for what I wanted to achieve academically and then professionally is the biggest reason that my career path took the wonderful and fruitful turns that it has. A collection of moments – One conversation here, one instance of helping someone else achieve their own goals there, one shared idea here… these moments have all helped me build a career I have felt proud of for years.
What does celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day mean to you?
Dima: Every day is women’s day to me! Growing up, I didn’t really have a female role model who was in the Tech/Medical industry. Women’s History Month gives me the reassurance to see that my daughter has a list of role models to look up to if she decides to work in this industry. I couldn’t be more proud.
Jessica: Remembering that we have made tremendous progress and that we still have more to do!
Mariem: It means celebrating the long and proud history of strong women from my home country, Tunisia. From Queen Dido, founder of Carthage, to Dihya who led her people to fight for their independence. And then of course all the strong women from all over the world who fought hard for our freedoms. It means celebrating the female scientists who achieved extraordinary breakthroughs in technology, biology, physics, etc., like Ada Lovelace who pioneered computer programming and Marie Curie for her breakthrough discoveries in radioactivity, and many more women who, until this day, continue to advance our knowledge in science and technology. In a way, I’m walking in these women’s footsteps on the path that they paved for us, and their strength is also my own.
Marceline: It’s an acknowledgment that history is a teacher, but it doesn’t have to be an obstacle. Empowered women empower women (and others) and we’re all better for it.
Check out our other amazing blogs about Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day here!