IWD: Cay Gliebe, SVP Marketing and Product Management, OSV

We talk to Cay Gliebe, SVP Marketing and Product Management for One Source Virtual about International Women’s Day and what she’s choosing to challenge.

Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

It’s important to remind ourselves how different the world was for women not that long ago, and how far we’ve come so that we can keep driving change.

Only 40 years ago women were raised like dolls with the sole purpose of being mothers and homemakers. They weren’t equipped for the working world so it wasn’t an even playing field.

We’re now raising our daughters differently and I think it’s important on this day to remind ourselves of where we’ve come from so that we can keep educating them in the right way.

How can we educate our daughters in the right way for positive change?

It’s all about what one generation can do for the next to correct some of our past mistakes.

Women have so many incredible strengths. I think women are very emotionally intelligent and are strong multi taskers. In my experience they’re the best at just getting stuff done.

What we need to do is harness these strengths and raise our daughters to be far more self confident. Women tend to not speak up when they need a raise or to go after that role that might be a step up. We raise men to speak up for themselves, to never doubt themselves but don’t teach women the same lessons.

I think we need to raise our daughters in the same way and equip them with the right tools to develop themselves.

Imagine a father calling his daughter’s workplace to complain about the experience she was having. That sounds quite unbelievable but it genuinely happened. If we continue to raise women in such a way we’re doing them a disservice.

What would be your advice to women trying to grow their careers?

At One Source Virtual we do a lot of mentoring. I work with many groups of women and one of the main things I tell them is that, if a job isn’t working to your strengths, find a position that does.

I think it’s more about what the mentors can do as well. Think about the age old saying, ‘Give someone a fish, and you’ll feed them for a day. Teach them to fish, and you’ve fed them for a lifetime’. Mentors need to encourage their mentees and give them the skills they need to get ahead.

You spent 19 years in the US Navy. How do you think that prepared you for your career?

What the navy prepared me for is having the mental courage to handle anything that’s thrown at me. To thrive in that sort of environment you need to have your own voice and have courage, it’s the same for men and women.

I found it quite difficult working with other women in the Navy to begin with. I joined the Navy 44 years ago and you have to think about how different it was then and the environment women were brought up in. They just weren’t taught to be strong or courageous. It wasn’t necessarily their fault, it’s what society as a whole taught them to be. That’s why we need to start young and teach women to have their own voice.

How can we encourage more women into tech roles?

I was in a press conference and the question came up about why there aren’t more women in technology roles. It’s simple really, we don’t encourage women into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects at an early age. I have two daughters, one is a chemical engineer and the other a computer engineer and that’s because I made sure they knew that these subjects were an option for them.

I think girls get too often pigeonholed into humanities subjects, such as history or english, and boys get directed towards STEM subjects. It’s not that one is better than the other. It’s about making all the options available for them to make the choice for themselves, then more women will start to come through into these roles.

As leaders we have a responsibility to actively seek out diversity and inclusion. It’s not just a tick-box exercise. You have to recognise the value of diversity, then you’ll naturally encourage more diversity in your hires. It’s about doing it in a meaningful way, and if that’s harder or takes longer, then so be it.

We’re honoured to have Cay share her thoughts. Find out more about International Women’s Day here.