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Mar 23

Posted by
Charlotte McArdle

Celebrating Women in Tech with Aisling Hetherington

At Bright we celebrate all our employees achievements and progress in the Tech industry everyday, but with International Women's Day being upon us we wanted to shed a light on some of our amazing women by gathering a few of our Bright women and hearing what International Women's day means to them, who the inspiring women in their lives are, an important piece of advice they have been given and much more. We recently interviewed Aisling Hetherington who has given us her thoughts on IWD.   

Question: What does IWD mean to you?

Aisling: For me, International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of women both in and out of the workplace. From years ago, when my mother's generation were encouraged to stay at home or to give up work once they became mothers, to a world where we are encouraged to excel in our careers while also having a family. Sometimes this can be a balancing act and working for such a family friendly and supportive organisation as Bright makes this a lot easier. This is not the case in other organisations and in some countries where women face ongoing struggles for equal rights and opportunities. While I personally don’t think that gender makes a difference to your ability to carry out a job or have a successful career, it is well known that for a long-time, women have faced more challenges in the workplace. Thankfully, there is more awareness about this now (for example the gender pay gap) and we have seen great changes over the last number of years. This is an ongoing journey to improving equality for women.

Question: On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

Aisling: They can achieve anything that they set their heart on, regardless of their gender and there is nothing that can hold them back. They should never doubt their ability or limit themselves. I have always worked hard in my career and given my all to the organisation I am working for. It is also important to switch off outside of work with family and friends.  It’s great if the career path and job chosen when they finished school is one they enjoy and are passionate about. It’s also possible to change this path at any stage of their life so should never be afraid to take on something new. I know this from first-hand experience.

Question: How can we encourage more women to pursue senior leadership roles in their career?

Aisling: Organisations have responsibilities to encourage women to pursue senior leadership roles and provide the education and training to prepare them for it. Typically, these roles require time commitments that may go beyond the 9-5 workday. This is something that should be reviewed and changed if it is noticed occurring regularly in the organisation. It is important for organisations to recognise that people have responsibilities outside of the office.  So many studies have been completed now looking at the working hours, working days, flexible and hybrid options, and work-life balance. Organisations need to value their employees and senior leaders and recognise that they have commitments outside of the office, regardless of their gender. Some days, more attention may be needed to a person’s home life than to their work life. I was very lucky early in my career that I had many women (and men) in leadership positions who encouraged me to take on new roles, education, projects and challenges and guided me throughout my career. Some people may not have the belief in themselves and so, if you are in a senior leadership position, actively seek out and support talented women in the organisation, take them in as a mentee and offer them the encouragement to advance their career.

Question: Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?

Aisling: I have not had barriers as such but have had challenges to overcome. One of these was juggling a career, studying and 2 children as a single mum. Despite the challenges I faced, I managed to overcome these with the support of family, friends, and colleagues. I don’t think this is unique to me, or to me as a woman, as many people face barriers and challenges as they navigate their own careers. I think sometimes attitudes of others can have an impact at times and create barriers. I personally don’t see my gender as a barrier to achieving success. I appreciate that this is not the same experience as others have had and continue to face. For a large part of my career to date, I worked in the healthcare industry which typically had more female than male employees and as a result quite a few women in senior leadership positions. Perhaps this is why I do not see these barriers and I have certainly not seen them since joining Bright last year.

There's much to celebrate about women's achievements. Gains are made for women worldwide, but there's more to do. Collectively, we can all challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination & draw attention to bias. Let's #EmbraceEquity to create places & spaces where women thrive.


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