Within a year at the publishing company, I had my first ever performance review. I will never forget the feedback I received from my immediate manager. It was a very good piece of advice that stays with me til this day. He told me that while I was great at my job, I needed to learn how to showcase my work more and gain recognition. And I needed to do that for myself.
Coming from a third world country, I didn’t think blowing my own trumpet was a good thing. I had believed that if you do a great job, people will recognise you and reward you for it. I also found it hard to promote myself, everyone I have met told me I was soft-spoken, kind and hard-working. Not assertive and confident. It took me a while to realise that these characteristics do not have to be mutually exclusive. You can be kind AND confident. I am an introvert by nature so it took me a while to learn and become my own advocate. Many would ask if that was because I was a female. I said this and I will say this again, I am not a feminist but I believe these things have nothing to do with gender, it’s more to do with personality.
I managed to get pay raise though, by applying what I learned at my very first job, I prepared a formal letter, I listed down all my achievement and also did a comparison of industry standards. I aimed high and asked for 20% pay raise, I got 10% immediately and 10% to be paid in 6 months time which was pretty good. But more than money, it gave me confidence and validation.
After working in the industry for a few years, I noticed that I was usually the only technical woman in the room. The quiet technical woman. I was happy to just sit back and relax most of the times. I was happy to let male seniors do most of the talking at meetings even if I had something to contribute or even if I knew the answer. However, I still don’t think it was because I was female, I think it was mostly because I was not experienced enough and I personally preferred (and still prefers) listening to talking.
Many people asked if I get a different treatment because I was female. It’s true, I was and I still am usually the only female in meetings, at conferences and workshops. How do I feel? I don’t feel any different. I think I have learned to adapt and adjust. But I can’t help but wonder, where are all those female Computer Science graduates that were in my class at university? What are they doing now? Surely, not all of them would just change career and become accountants.
To be continued. I hope you’re enjoying the read as much as I enjoy writing it.