In Work & Life: Women Who Inspire Us

For International Women’s Day, Sociomantic team members talk about female heroes

“Women shouldn’t be afraid to put themselves forward.” The quote is from Sarah Wood, co-founder and COO of Unruly Media, one of the biggest companies in online video marketing. Wood is right, of course, but we could say that the main problem isn’t so much that women shouldn’t be afraid to put themselves forward—it’s rather that women simply shouldn’t have to.

Tech is an area where female leaders are still a minority, even though so many of them are changing the world every day. Today, on International Women’s Day, created not just to celebrate women but also to call attention towards the issues of inequality that women face today around the world, Sociomantic team members acknowledge their female idols, talking a bit about how they inspire them to do (and be) better.

The Badass Women We Admire

Talking to our team, one thing is immediately clear: at Sociomantic, both men and women know how many admirable women we have in tech right now. For Beata, our Marketing Manager CEE, Sheryl Sandberg is a standout example.

“She’s had an amazing career,” says Beata. “Google, Facebook… She’s so involved in the women’s labor market and with so many organizations that empower women. And, from her Facebook page, she seems to be a very humane leader.” Sandberg is currently the COO for Facebook, having been elected by the existing board members. Andreas, one of our Software Developers, on the other hand picks, “…Frances Allen, the first female Turing Award winner.” The Turing Award is seen as the Nobel Prize for computing, and Allen was the first woman to receive it, recognized for her work in high performance computing.

For Diogo, a Sociomantic web developer, “…it’s Margaret Hamilton, the director of software programming for the Apollo space mission.” Hamilton was, among other things, one of the scientists responsible for the development of the concepts of asynchronous software (as if making the software for the Apollo space station wasn’t enough). Erika, Marketing Manager UK, needs to think for a bit before picking another Margaret, in this case one who doesn’t work in tech.

Margaret Atwood is an idol of mine,” says Erika. “Author of (amongst many great novels) the Handmaid’s Tale, she’s also a graphic novelist, poet, environmental activist and explorer of how technology influences creativity – at the age of 76. For example, she’s also the creator of the LongPen, which helps people (authors) sign documents (books) from afar. She once said: ‘Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.’ Goes without saying that she’s a feminist through and through.”

And still in the arts, but switching to pop, Sarah, our Global Marketing Director, picks, “…Grimes. Her creative output is incredible to me, and yet I suspect she still has plenty to show us in the years ahead. She produces and performs all of her music and writes and directs most of her own music videos—my favorite is REALiTi. She also brings a level of raw energy and authenticity to her performances that is often missing in pop music. When it comes to the music industry and expectations of how you should act as a producer/performer/dj, she doesn’t seem to care about conventions—she’s just doing her thing. It’s great to see a young woman running her own career as an artist in the way that she seems to be.”

Priya, our Marketing Manager for North America, chooses the incomparable (aren’t they all, really?) Maya Angelou.

“It’s quite hard to condense why into a few sentences but she was a poet, memoirist, artist, actress filmmaker and civil rights activist, and she inspired and educated many people, both male and female,” says Priya. “And she was so brave with ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ because she wrote about being sexually abused as a child, a subject that was incredibly taboo in the 70’s. And it was actually banned from many schools. And on top of that being huge civil rights activist! Her quotes continue to inspire so many people everyday.”

Indeed they do. One in particular may apply to how we all do our job over here at Sociomantic:

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
– Maya Angelou

Words to live by, that can inspire anyone. Indeed, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that quite a few members of our team get inspiration for their profession from people who are not at all related with tech. For Tiffany, our Marketing Coordinator SEA area, it’s Malala, the Pakistan-born activist who fought against the Taliban for the right to education.

“I just cannot imagine taking on the weight of her life experiences, much less at such a young age,” says Tiffany. “She’s fearless and never gave up on the cause. Even after a bullet through her head, literally.” One of the bravest examples one could think of, probably.

Manoella, our Marketing Manager LATAM, picks Gisele Bundchen.

“It’s not just because she’s Brazilian, but because she’s really active in pro-environmental initiatives,” says Manoella. “She doesn’t need to get involved in that, but she takes a lot of her time to support and participate on programs regarding climate problems; she is the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program, for example. And I’m from a part of the planet that really suffers with climate changes—the Amazon forest ecosystem loses many species of animals and vegetation because of it.”

When it comes to choosing idols, there are also some cases in which it’s hard to actually pinpoint a single individual, because heroically overcoming challenges isn’t a matter of individualism or goodwill—it is, simply, a matter of existence and earning a right that no-one should have to earn: the right to live a happy life.

“For my female idol, I’d say transgender women everywhere,” says Lars, our Internal Communications Coordinator. “I think that not only do they suffer discrimination from men, but they also have to fight against the oppression coming from many other women, including feminists. It’s very impressive not only the fact that they don’t crack under that pressure, but also that they manage to go through their transition.”

Up-up-and Away or Near, Women we Admire Are Everywhere

When looking at the idols the team picks, not all of them are…well, grounded in the literal sense.

“My female hero is Amelia Earhart,” explains Neha, our Marketing Manager for India. “Not only for the numerous aviation records she’s earned, and because she was the first woman to spread her wings in the sky, but also because she was so much more than just an aviator—she was a teacher, a nurse, a volunteer. It takes strength to live fearlessly through times as difficult as a war, and Amelia was an example of courage. One who dared to go beyond the realms of a traditional career and risk the outdoors. That thirst of adventure has a special place in my heart. I think of her when I think of scaling mountains—and to me that is an inspiration.” Amelia Earhart disappeared in 1937 during a flight, and left a legacy that still inspires women and men everywhere—including here, at Sociomantic.

Others choose someone closer.

“My idol works right next door from our Berlin office” says Sonja, our Marketing Manager EMEA. “Lea-Sophie Cramer was 23 when she was Groupon’s Vice President International Asia. Today she’s 28 and founder of two companies: Starstrike Ventures and Amorelie—a stylish online shop for sex toys. She has turned an entire industry upside down and even the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy awarded her achievements. She once said in an interview: ‘I love problems and being responsible for them.’ Wow! At the same time, she’s humble and people-focused, and whenever you see her or read about her you feel her energy and love for what she does. This determination, fearlessness and passion makes her a role model for any woman in a male-dominated environment.”

In terms of being fierce, there’s one other woman that pops to mind… Someone in music. No, not Beyoncé—at least this time.

“My female idol is Missy Elliot,” says Tero, our Head of UX. “She’s been actively involved in the music industry since 1991 and has done an incredible work at remaining relevant. She has shown outstanding ability to renew herself musically and expanded to other ventures such as films and fashion with her own clothing line with adidas. Performing with Katy Perry at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2015 has boosted the record sales of her previous releases. And we’re all hyped to hear the 7th studio album droppin’ later this year with production from Timbaland and Pharrell Williams! Now that’s what’s up!”

Shai, our Internal Events Coordinator, has another icon in mind: Margaret Cho, the American comedian and actress known for her sharp, incisive stand-up routine. Cho is to humor what Missy Elliott is to music.

“She’s my role model because she fights for human, women’s and minority rights with full force while still using humor,” says Shai. Cho has always been an example on how comedy can, indeed, be used as a weapon of progress.

“I have learned to love that which is meant to harm me, so that I can stand in the way of those who are less strong,” Cho once said. “I can take the bullets for those who aren’t able to.”

“She puts the ‘bad’ in badass,” adds Shai. “She fights for what she believes in.”

Indeed she does—like all the women mentioned here, and so many others around the world each day. We are thankful that International Women’s Day gives us a chance to acknowledge and honor these women, but also want it to serve as a reminder: let’s make every day a day to celebrate the achievements of great women, and to push for equal rights in the workplace and beyond.