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Celebrating International Women's Day at Digistorm

March 7, 2021

Today, we’re excited to celebrate International Women’s Day at Digistorm. To mark the occasion, and highlight the crucial role that education plays in promoting gender equality, we invited women from Digistorm schools across the globe to share their best career advice, personal inspirations, and thoughts on mentorship with us. 

In this special International Women’s Day Q&A, we chat with Bianca Coleborn (Concordia Lutheran College), Klaire Quiming (International Community School), Mary-Lou O’Brien (ML O’Brien PTY LTD), and Carmen Mitchell (Muskegon Catholic Central). 

Image: Bianca Coleborn

How will Concordia Lutheran College be celebrating International Women's Day this year? 

We recognise International Women’s Day and International Men’s Day each year. We create a graphic celebrating staff and students of our community for our social media channels, and our College Captains usually attend an IWD Luncheon by the Institute of Managers and Leaders. The event will be held virtually this year due to COVID-19. 

Who do you think is playing a pivotal role in creating a more equal and inclusive world?

I think New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Adern, does an amazing job of demonstrating that a leader can be compassionate, kind, strong and formidable, all at the same time. I hope she inspires more young women to consider leading the country as a viable career goal.

How are you aiming to be a positive role model or mentor to younger women and girls? 

I am the youngest member of the College Leadership team as well as being a woman. I could be intimidated by that, but I’m not. I feel confident to voice my opinion, to make big decisions and to have the courage to take risks for the betterment of our College community (see: Queensland’s Best Kept Secret video). When I work with our students, I encourage them to be confident, to be proud of their achievements and to always be brave.

 

When I work with our students, I encourage them to be confident, to be proud of their achievements, and to always be brave.”

 

Image: Klaire Quiming

What role does education play in promoting gender equality? 

I firmly believe that equality, equity, and inclusivity starts from youth through education. Whether this is via teaching and learning, or through exemplifying at the organization level. I am privileged to be a part of an institution at which the majority of leadership and director-level roles are held by women. This already implicitly promotes the capability and strength of women, not just in running the school, but in building and nurturing a community.

How are you aiming to be a positive role model or mentor to younger women and girls? 

Despite being an introvert, typically a "behind-the-scenes" person, I have learned to be more comfortable with my own success and not to doubt myself. To develop an inner self-confidence that would manifest externally, intentionally display and promote this to the young women and girls in our community. This could be as simple as being more front-facing sharing success stories, giving time for feedback on student technology/innovation projects, offering mentorships, and building connections with newly graduated alumni who are about to begin their professional careers.

What's the best career advice you've ever received? 

The most significant piece of advice I've received, which I practice on a daily basis whether professionally or personally, is to accept influence and be open to "unlearn". We have unfortunately lived in an era filled with outdated information and formed bad habits from our innate resistance to change. To unlearn these is how we can adapt, adjust, and be a better version of ourselves.

 

“I firmly believe that equality, equity, and inclusivity starts from youth through education."

 

Image: Mary-Lou O'Brien

What's on your agenda for International Women's Day this year? 

I'm working across a number of Schools currently and I expect all of the girls' schools will be celebrating IWD in their own way. I'm far more interested now to note which boys’ schools participate, and how!

How do you strive to be a positive role model and mentor? 

Just being a female in some of the roles I've had I think has been great role modelling for younger women, particularly those with an interest in Tech or STEM. When I was in a School, I instigated many programs to support young women in STEM but now I find myself consulting to schools, supporting them. I've worked on a number of projects now supporting the building of STEM buildings and STEM programs, which means that whilst I'm not as hands-on my work has a wider reach and impact.

Best piece of career advice you've ever received? 

From a book! This time it's one I read in 2013, Sheryl Sandberg's book "Lean In". Her advice was to "learn how to negotiate for higher pay, better roles, and more flexibility." Just think, women who ask for a raise are more than twice as likely to get one as women who don’t! I have recommended this book to so many other women over the years, particularly to those that come to me for advice on asking for a wage increase. I strongly believe that we must ALL learn to lean in and lift one another and the biggest reward to me personally is to see one of my team members progress, even if that means leaving my team and organisation.

 

“Education is the key to empowerment and an empowered woman has control of her own destiny. I have lived experience of this and know it to be true.”

 

Image: Carmen Mitchell

How do you strive to be a positive role model and mentor? 

I have a daughter so I feel like my actions every day teach her skills to be a strong vibrant female. I teach her to have confidence, nothing is more successful than feeling great about oneself.

What role do you believe education plays in gender equality? 

Education is the doorway for females to realize they can do anything in the world. I have been a troop leader at my daughter's school since she was in kindergarten, we meet once a month to not only team bond but work on life skills. In the past 12 years, it has been amazing to see them grow up and become strong females. My hopes are that these girls have also watched me change and flourish in my position at the school.

Who do you think is playing a pivotal role in creating a more equal and inclusive world? 

A personal mentor for me was Mary Jo Slater. Mary Jo took me in as a young girl and made sure I stood my ground. She never let being a female stop her from kicking down doors or taking control of any situation. What I appreciated the most is she made sure I was aware and present to learn from these situations. I watched her work magic in board rooms that were filled with no females. She would regularly meet with me and teach me how to stand up for what I believed in and taught me to treat everyone equally. 

 

 “Education is the doorway for women to realise that they can do anything in the world.” 


We’re proud to work alongside so many women in education here at Digistorm. Are you celebrating International Women’s Day at your school? We’d love to hear from you.