Since 1911, March 8th has marked the global celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD). While today commemorates past female achievements around equality and voting rights, it also recognizes present-day efforts and actions to achieve gender parity worldwide.
We all have a role to play in gender equality. As Gloria Steinem so eloquently said, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
IWD’s theme this year, #BalanceforBetter, embraces the idea that every facet of society and culture improves when we aim for gender balance. As the CEO of a company that surpasses the tech industry benchmark for female workers, I can attest to the fact that our own balance equates to a stronger team and a more cohesive work environment.
In honor of this important global holiday, we asked some Inkling customers, Inkblot employees, and friends of Inkblots to tell us about a female mentor or role model who helped shape their career. We even caught some of these contributors striking the #BalanceforBetter pose.
We hope you enjoy these inspirational tributes as you reflect on your own female influences and help us work towards a balanced world. Let’s all help create #BalanceforBetter
"The easy answer for me in terms of a female role model is my wife, who was a geeky (and athletic) software engineer working on military applications, compilers and supercomputers when I met her. She helped raise 3 kids, including our two beautiful girls, who were taught to see STEM as a perfectly cool field for women to pursue and excel in, with both choosing careers in the computer science and software engineering arena."
- Jeff Carr, CEO at Inkling“As an avid runner, I once had a coach who taught me how to find comfort in discomfort. Although this advice was running-related, I applied it to my career. Many times when I thought I couldn’t, I did. I continue to dig deep in those moments and just think back to what Coach Jenny taught me. It works and I thank her for that!”
- Lupe Gallardo, Sr. Manager, Claims Learning & Development at Allstate “For as long as I can remember, my mother has epitomized balance, strength, intelligence, and a natural sense of equality in every aspect of her life. While instilling in me the belief that I can accomplish anything, she demonstrated what true partnership looks like in marriage and what work-life balance looks like in reality. Even while building a new and demanding career from scratch, she never sacrificed family time and somehow attended every single school and sporting event I can remember—quite a feat! I grew up knowing that women are super-humans because I had such a tenacious, resolute, and exemplary role model who made it look easy."
- Annette DeNoyer, Strategic Content Marketer at Annette DeNoyer Consulting“My wife has been and continues to be the biggest influence on my career. She runs the day to day operations of the cider company we founded and still manages to help me when I struggle to find balance in life. She constantly pushes herself to do more and be better. This motivates me more than she will ever know.”
- Alex Martell, Director of Sales Consulting at Inkling“I studied abroad once and developed tremendous anxiety in my new environment. To help me get adjusted, my mom would purchase the same textbooks and do the same homework alongside me until I gained my confidence back.”
- Raisa Berkheiser, Manager and Instructional Designer at Verizon Media "My female role model is my mother. She was a doctor in Ukraine and together with my father and two kids left the life she knew to come to America. With a new language and in a new place, she started a new career as a scientist working in biotech, and to this day inspires me to be tough and brave."
- Polina Polishchuk, Sr. Digital Marketing Manager at Inkling“This might sound cliche but my biggest mentor for me has been my mother, Toni Vetere. I truly believe that hard work goes a long way and have always centered everything I do around consistency and trying to give 100% and I think I learned that from my Mom (and my Dad). My mother moved to America from Sicily when she was only 16 years old and quickly became a mother to her 4 younger brothers and sisters and trying to go to school and maintain a job to support her family. Putting her career dreams and college aside, she continued to work and then became a mother to 4 children and a caretaker to my Dad, who was diagnosed with genetic kidney disease not long after they got married. My Mom even donated her kidney to my Dad! Despite all of this, my Mom went back to school part-time, which helped her find a career later, and maintained side businesses while we were too young for preschool - all while still putting dinner on the table every night. I have never heard her complain once about all she had to do.
In addition to my Mom, I have been lucky to have a few other women mentors along the way in B2B marketing including Maria Pergolino for helping me early on in my career and giving me the confidence to excel, Kristen Alexander for teaching me to think more creatively and take risks, and Shari Johnston who inspired me to broaden my network and bring other women professionals together in our non-profit WomenInRevenue.Org."
- Cristina Vetere-Saunders, CoFounder at CS2 Marketing“My aunt has been there with me every step of the way in my career. She pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, empowering me to move to San Francisco and work at awesome jobs like this one at Inkling!”
- Siddharth Prakash, Software Engineering Manager at Inkling “My mom has always encouraged me to stay true to myself and trust my instinct. As I’ve navigated my career, she has encouraged me to try, learn from failure, and never underestimate myself.”
- Monika Gupta, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Inkling "My friend and former manager, Renee, encouraged me to ignore the tiny details and doubts that stress me out, helping to shift my focus away from worrying about all the ways I could fail, and instead towards all the ways I can thrive."
- Emma Long, Senior Digital Account Strategist at Working Planet Marketing Group “I would not be working in tech if it weren't for my first two managers and mentors in the industry, both brilliant women, both of whom supported and inspired and challenged me to become a better professional and human being. I literally can't imagine what my life would be like today without their influence on me.”
- Nate Gillespie, Senior Product Manager at Inkling "The woman who has inspired me the most in my career is the woman who told me that I am 100% capable and equipped to achieve even my wildest dreams. It sounds cheesy and cliché, but it’s honestly been a piece of wisdom that I hold close to my chest to help me stay motivated, especially on the hard days.”
- Coley Catalano, People Ops Associate at Inkling“Shannon Fable was my first female mentor within the commercial fitness industry. To me Shannon best exemplifies what it means to trust one's own judgement and decision making abilities. Females are falsely "trained" to question their own judgement from a young age and this mentality requires some undoing. I quickly learned from Shannon that most any decision is better than no decision and that consistently nudging things forward was the key to reaching one's objectives. "You know more than you think you know." This has served me well. Thanks Shannon!”
- Cameron Chinatti, Director of Education at Stages Cycling “I particularly remember two female elementary school teachers who inspired me to be smart, courageous, and kind. I have no doubt that the regular trips to the library to look at rows and rows of National Geographic magazines is what sparked my love for photography and my curiosity of this world and its people.”
Amy Ferguson, Senior Customer Success Manager at Inkling "I had an executive sponsor at my first role out of college that helped me understand the importance of sharing my voice. Whether it be in a company-wide meeting or one-to-one, it is important to not only listen and learn but let others learn from your unique perspective."
- Basia Solek, Product Marketing Manager at Inkling
About the Author
As the CEO of Inkling, Jeff is passionate about the future of learning tools built for today's modern workforce. He is a veteran enterprise software executive with deep domain expertise in the HCM and Learning and Development markets. He brings over 25 years of experience as an executive at companies like Saba, Taleo, Zenefits, PeopleFluent, and PeopleSoft.
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