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International Women's Day 2022 – Anna Grajek

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To celebrate Women’s Day this year, we gathered up 4 women amongst our amazing Siilis and asked them to tell their career story, in their own words, as well as some thoughts about what it is to be a woman in the field of IT.

We will publish one story every day during the rest of the week.
Let us introduce, Anna, Heli, Taru and Emma.

Anna, Tribe Lead at SALabs

“I am originally from Poland. After high school, I got into university to study German linguistics, and while still being a student I moved to Munich to continue my studies. I got my first gigs in the IT industry in Germany. A few years ahead, and one day a request came from Finland, asking if I could come for an interview. The search was for someone who had testing experience and also spoke Polish. This is how I got into the world of IT consulting. It was challenging mainly due to lack of extensive work experience and proficiency in the Finnish language. I was still determined. I learned the language and the skills needed to succeed. A few years ago, I moved away from consulting work to people leadership. A friend suggested Siili; he said that I get to work with great professionals, and he was 100% right.

I’ve always been a bit of a nerd, interested in how a computer works and what it looks like on the inside. As a teenager, I built my own machines and played video games after school every day. Back then it would never have occurred to me to study information technology. It wasn’t a “girls’ thing,” and there was no one in my circle who would have encouraged me to do so. Only recently I have made a return to the school bench to study IT - because I can!

I noticed some gender bias, particularly in the early stages of my career, when I was still living in Germany. A rigid and hierarchical work culture did not help. I encountered many discrimination cases and harmful prejudices along the way. I felt like had to do a little more than my male counterparts to prove my value.

There are still issues in the industry here in Finland, but I believe that compared to other industries, these cases are relatively rare. That does not mean that the work is done. For example, there are still discrepancies in salary levels of equally qualified men and women and there are still not enough women working in C-level positions.

When it comes to workplace discrimination my approach is that I always call it out when I see it and I wish any other professional keeps their eyes and ears open and reacts to abuse immediately.

At the beginning of my career, I got into a client project with a super strong female lead. I was so impressed by her courage and “get shit done” attitude that it was then I decided to pursue leadership roles. I now feel obliged to support and represent women and minorities here in Finland. I do it because I can very much relate to the challenges they face and I believe that everything is possible to achieve if there are people around who know how to encourage, motivate and lift you up.

I hope that someday there is no need to celebrate a Women’s Day specifically. Women’s Day serves me as a reminder that we haven’t arrived at that point yet and there is still a lot of work to be done.

What do I hope for the future? I would like every parent to be aware that equality is always taught at home. The parents’ role in raising a kind and empathic individual is crucial. Support children in pursuing their dreams, whatever they may be. Teach them empathy so that they can stand up for justice and equality in every situation in life. Oh, and let them play video games!”

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