International Women’s Day – an interview with Catherine

By: Ancoris says
Tag(s): News and views
Published: Mar 16, 2023
International Women’s Day – an interview with Catherine

International Women’s Day may have passed for 2023 but we're still going at Ancoris! This particular observance is dedicated to celebrating the amazing achievements of women from across the globe. It also stands as a call to action to truly recognise women as equals, 365 days a year. 

As part of our extended celebrations, we're taking this month to sit down with some of our female colleagues to get to know them a bit better. Today, we're talking to Catherine, our Head of Delivery.

So, Catherine, tell me about yourself. 

I'm Catherine Marklove and I'm the Head of Delivery at Ancoris. I've been in IT project management for about 14 years now. I’ve spent the last five years or so working in cloud specifically. 

What do you feel is the difference between equity and equality? 

So equity for me is making sure everyone gets what they need to get around any obstacles and have the opportunity to reach the same endpoints as others. Equality is about treating people the same way regardless of their differing obstacles. If you treat everyone the same way though, the people who have more obstacles to face are less likely to get to the same endpoint. So you can’t truly have equality if you don't have equity.

Did you always want to go into a technical role or was it less straightforward than that? 

I've always worked in IT however I did my degree in Psychology and Counselling. I was originally thinking of going into human computer interaction and ergonomics so I wanted to get some relevant IT experience to do this. I ended up changing my mind though after I got a place on an IT project management graduate scheme. It gave me the chance to move down from Rochdale to London for a full-time job and I’ve been here ever since. 

How do you think we can work towards balancing the proportion of men and women working in tech? 

I think we need to ensure that we are communicating that people can be a good fit for the tech industry regardless of their background or whether they are super technical or not. There are many different opportunities within tech to choose from. Alongside the purely technical roles, there’s project management, there’s marketing, there’s HR – lots of different opportunities. 

And at which stage do you think this communication needs to start, ideally? 

It should definitely be happening at school and university. However, there are a lot of people who are not at school anymore so we could be neglecting a lot of talent if we just focus on those that are still in education. There are also organisations that specifically help people who are looking for a career change or are looking to return to work after time off for various reasons. Communication needs to happen in those places as well so those people know that tech is an option. 

Do you feel that you've faced any barriers getting into IT? 

Personally, I feel that I’ve been really lucky to have been in the right place at the right time. Getting on to that graduate scheme was my way on to the career ladder so it was quite smooth getting in. I would say though that the barriers that I've faced have probably appeared more when trying to progress through my career. I'm quite a softly-spoken person and I'm not very outgoing. Earlier on in my career (pre-Ancoris but not as long ago as you may think!), I regularly received feedback that I needed to be more assertive, louder and make sure that when I entered a room, everybody knew that I was there. I was also told to man up, things like that. For me, if I’d really paid attention to this, it could have been a bit of a blocker for my progression.

Even in this day and age, it sometimes feels like you’re meant to fit into a mould which is based on the stereotype of a male leader. So you have to be loud, you have to be assertive, and you have to be upfront. It's a mould that doesn't fit me though because I'm more of a quietly confident person. I’ve never truly believed that I necessarily needed to be all of those things to succeed because I know I have other strengths. I also know that you don't always need to be the loudest person in the room – literally or metaphorically – to get people to listen to you. 

Your point about the stereotypical male leadership style is really interesting. There are different ways to be in the workplace for sure, right? 

Definitely, there are different styles of leadership. You can influence people in lots of different ways. Personally, the leaders who have the largest influence on me are not the aggressive ones or the ones that get angry and shout. It's the leaders that are really calm, calculated and know exactly why they're saying what they're saying and are clear about what they're trying to achieve. I find this style more motivating which is great because there are a lot of people at Ancoris that have these qualities.

In your opinion, what are the characteristics of a true male ally? 

I heard a quote once that sums it up quite well. It said something like, “Allyship is actions, not words”. In my opinion, to be a true male ally is more than just saying, ‘I support equality and equity for women’ or ‘I support women in tech’. It’s about actually taking action to support women. That could be in the workplace, making sure you have equity between the male and female members of your team, or in your personal life, making sure that your female family members and friends have the same kind of treatment or equity as the male people in your life. Anyone that's willing to put policies and principles in place to support women is someone I’d call an ally. 

What advice would you give to young women trying to start their careers in tech? 

Have the confidence to know that you're bringing something valuable to the table and that you have the same ability as anybody else to really add something to the industry. Even if you see a job role that you don’t think traditionally aligns with how you are as a person, don’t let it put you off. Maybe you and all your qualities can actually give us something that we need and that we don't even know we need yet. 

That’s definitely advice worth remembering! Is there anything else you'd like to add? 

Just a reminder that even though coding and IT has become predominantly linked with men, the first coders and pioneers of IT were women.

In an ideal world, there shouldn’t be any stereotypes about who is better at technology or who is more interested in it. If you are interested in it, you should give tech a chance regardless of your gender and regardless of what you think the predefined mould of a technical person is.

That predefined mould suits one specific sort of person. Women aren’t always seen as fitting that mould and sometimes some men and non-binary people may not fit that mould either. The problem is the mould, not the gender. So, let's challenge our preconceptions and just see people as people. 


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