HxGN RadioPodcast

Finding gender parity at the edge of innovation

In this episode, we sat down with Sara Masterson, Director of Positioning Services, and Sandy Kennedy, VP of Innovation, from Hexagon’s Autonomy & Positioning division. Sandy and Sara share with us their experiences in the search for gender equality and parity while working at the cutting edge of technological innovation.

BK: Welcome to HxGN Radio, my name is Brian and today I am with Sara Masterson, Director of Positioning Services, and Sandy Kennedy, VP of Innovation from Hexagon’s Autonomy and Positioning Division. In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about the experiences in the search for gender equality and parity, while working at the cutting edge of technological innovation, Sandy and Sara will be sharing their experiences and what they believe, too. So, thank you both for joining me. Appreciate it.

SK: No problem. Glad to be here.

SM: Yeah. Happy to be here.

BK: Yeah. I’m glad to be here in person actually talking, it’s not over Zoom anymore. It seems like that we’ve been doing a lot lately. This is great.

SK: And Teams. It’s all Teams.

BK: Teams? Oh, okay. So, Teams, Zoom, Discord, whatever. Throw in the… Fill in the blank thing. All right. Well, I need to know a little bit about you. So, first of all, tell us about yourself, what you do, what you’re nerding out on. Doesn’t have to be nerdy. Don’t worry. Just anything you’re excited about right now. So, who would like to go first? Go for it.

SM: Okay, I’ll go. Hi, I’m Sara. So, I’ve been at Hexagon A&P for 19 years and spent pretty much my entire career in geomatics-related fields. I have a degree in geomatics engineering from the University of Calgary. Born and raised, live in Calgary.

BK: Love it.

SM: When I’m not at work doing engineering-type things, then I like to be travelling, reading, spending time with my family. Every weekend I like to be out doing something outdoors, hiking, skiing, biking.

BK: Nice.

SM: That’s my passion.

BK: You’re in a good place for it too. Excellent.

SK: Yeah. You better like the outdoors when you live in Calgary.

BK: I know. I kind of feel that in Colorado, too. Same kind of thing. If you’re in Colorado, you better like outdoors in some way or another, even though I don’t ski. I know.

SM: What?

BK: I know.

SK: How?

BK: I know. I don’t know. It’s a knee issue, I guess. I don’t know. That’s what I hear.

SK: Well, the skiing’s better in Calgary than it is in Colorado.

BK: Really? Oh.

SK: Well, I’m going to say that. I’m sure there’ll be people that argue with me, but…

BK: Hey, like I said, I’m not a skier, so I don’t know, but yeah, I’m sure there’d be some people that would fight you on. That’d be a good deal, though. Which one is better? And do-

SK: Oh, it’s happened. It’s happened. There’s ski movies about that for sure, somewhere.

BK: Yeah. Yeah. All right. Well, Sandy, go for it. Tell us about yourself.

SK: Yeah. I was just thinking, Sara, did you start before a year before me?

SM: Yep. 2003.

SK: 2003. Okay. Yeah. So, I joined Hexagon in 2004. So yeah, it’s pretty funny. If somebody had told me that I would end up working for the same company for 18 years, I probably would’ve been like, ha, there’s no way. Anyway. Here we are. So yeah, I’m responsible for the research programme at Autonomy & Positioning. So, all of the innovation activities, the things that aren’t a product yet, but maybe could be a product someday if it works out, maybe it doesn’t work out. Yeah. So, I’m also a geomatics engineer. I also did my undergrad and then a master’s at the University of Calgary, as well. I’m not from Calgary. Sara’s actually pretty unique. Hardly anyone’s actually from Calgary. So, I actually, I moved there for geomatics. I was probably one of the only people that showed up on my first day of engineering when everybody takes common classes, common core classes for the first year and a half. And my first day I was probably the only one, like, “I’m going to be a geomatics engineer. What do I have to do to be a geomatics engineer?”

BK: Yeah. That’s awesome.

SM: That’s funny because when I was in engineering, I had no idea what geomatics engineering was. And went to all of the different sessions about, oh, here’s electrical, here’s mechanical, here’s civil. And then, it was actually a female that was… Professor that was presenting on geomatics engineering. I said, “That’s what I want to do.”

BK: Interesting.

SK: I know. It was really weird. My high school guidance counsellor in like, rural Manitoba went to some professional development day. And somebody from the geomatics engineering department presented on it. And she came back and said, “Hey, you said you were interested in engineering. And… because you have good marks in calculus and physics, there’s this new kind of engineering. Maybe you want to look into it?” And I was like, “Oh, satellites. That seems like a lot of physics and calculus. Yeah. I guess I’ll do that.”

BK: I was curious, what got that passion going on there. Just more interest in the… What was it, I guess?

SK: Actually, for me, so I grew up on a farm, so I grew up on a farm, and when I was in high school, it was kind of the early, mid-1990’s. And the first precision agriculture systems were happening. So, this was mostly yield mapping then. And I had decided I wanted to be an engineer, because I wanted a job that had a really… What’s the right way to put it? There wasn’t a lot of risk that you weren’t going to be able to have a good living.

BK: Gotcha.

SK: It wasn’t one of those things where you had to be like a superstar at it to be able to have a decent living. I think I was in grade nine and they had shared information about different career paths and what the average salary was five years after graduation, whatever the minimum educational requirements were. And engineering had the best mean median salary five years out with only a four-year undergraduate degree. So, I was like, “Ywah, that sounds good.” So, looking back at it, I was like, “That is a super engineering way to make a decision.”

BK: There you go.

SM: I was just thinking that was very practical as not at all how I fell into engineering.

SK: But it was interesting. So, what drew me into it was actually the idea of satellites and GPS, but then when I got into it and I learned a bunch of other things that I had observed my whole life growing up in the prairies, and I didn’t know what the purpose of it was. So, nerding out, is… anyone who’s flown over Western Canada and a lot of the US, there’s this perfect patchwork of grids, right?

BK: Yeah. Yep.

SK: And I didn’t… I just grew up on that’s what every road is – due north or due west. That’s just the way it is. And it wasn’t until I got into geomatics engineering that I learnt what that was, and that land surveying was still a thing, and it didn’t stop in like 1897. And those grids are like a physical manifestation of a geodetic grid system. So, it was really kind of one of those things where I was interested, one aspect of it, and then I found out other things that I had no idea were connected and yeah, that’s where I was.

BK: I love it.

SM: That’s interesting. You obviously had a better guidance counsellor than I did because my experience in junior high school was, “Oh, you need to pick your courses for high school.” And I remember my mom said, I came home one day almost in tears because the guidance counsellor had told me, “No, you cannot take calculus and physics and chemistry and biology, that’s too heavy of a course load.” And so, she went in and talked to the guidance counsellor and said, “Yes, she can, my daughter can do this.” And then they let me into all those courses. And then it was fine. And I applied to engineering and the rest is history. But I had a very strong mother, not such a great guidance counsellor making sure that I ended up where I needed to be.

BK: Yeah.

SK: Yeah.

SM: My school was so small that you couldn’t take all of them at the same time. So, biology lost out. I never took any biology.

BK: Oh. Interesting. See, and that was one I liked, but… I understand it though, I understand. Well, that’s cool. So obviously clearly a passion for it and moved in. Now, how did you get into Hexagon though? What drew you both into that?

SK: Oh, so that one’s… Okay. So, the entity, the Hexagon entity, actually, when we started working, it wasn’t a Hexagon entity. It was NovAtel was the standalone company. And it was in Calgary, very close ties to the geomatics engineering department at the UC. So, I had done my master’s in inertial navigation. Now this is a long time ago. Inertial navigation is a lot more common now than it was back in 2000. And anyway, I wanted to work in GPS/INS. And I was looking around for what I… Where could I do that? So actually, I was at another company for a while, and I was doing just straight inertial pipeline inspection. And I was the only geomatics engineer there. And I was like, this is not a good professional development environment. This is not for me. So, I was like, well, NovAtel. NovAtel at that time was working on, it was in the research group, their GPS/INS system, and I was ruthless in hunting them. And being very insistent that I wanted to work there.

BK: Nice, nice.

SM: Oh, that’s funny. When I graduated from geomatics engineering, everyone wanted to work at NovAtel, and I had an interview at NovAtel and the opportunity to go work there. But I had made the conscious decision that born and raised in Calgary, I wanted to go experience some other places. So, I looked for work elsewhere. And then I took a job in San Diego working for a company that did offshore navigation and positioning for seismic applications, for fibre optic cable installations, for pipeline inspections and things like that.

And what’s really funny, small world, that company has now parts of it have been acquired also by Hexagon. So, they… And it’s really come full circle, because I used on the ships that we worked offshore, I used NovAtel GPS cards in our systems and correction services from a company called Racal, which was kind of the precursor in a lot of that technology and the employees from that organisation are now actually part of VERIPOS, which is part of Hexagon Autonomy and Positioning. So that’s where I started my career. After I had my first child in the US, I decided I wanted to come back to Canada to be closer to family, so then when we came back to Canada, then I said, okay, now I’ll go work at NovAtel. And I’ve been here ever since, so it’s been really interesting.

BK: That’s cool. Well, yeah. So, 18 years for you, Sandy, and then 19 years for you, Sara. That’s awesome. So obviously you’ve seen a lot. And I’m curious to have you share some of your experiences along the way. But let’s talk gender parity, because I know that’s the main topic that we wanted to get into today. How have you seen that change throughout the years? Or has it changed? I mean, what have you even seen? I guess that would be the question.

SM: It’s been a slow change. I mentioned that I worked offshore when I first started working. I made a really big effort to actually try to blend in and not stand out as a woman. It pretty much just drew unwanted attention. And 25 years ago, when I started working, it was, I just wanted to be one of the guys and do everything that I could to try to blend in with the guys and not necessarily bring a unique female perspective. I think that that has absolutely changed when I look at where we are now, especially our part of Hexagon within Autonomy and Positioning, we have a lot of women. It’s much different. It used to be the only… It’s-

SK: Well… Comparatively we have a lot.

SM: It’s better. I used to be the only woman working offshore. And even back in the office processing data, I was one of only a handful of women, maybe 10%. Now that still happens, for sure. It’s quite common where you’re still the only female in the room in a meeting, but absolutely just from a percentage of employees that are females and the number of females that you now see in more senior positions, it’s definitely improving, but we’re not at parity yet, for sure. There’s still progress to be made.

BK: Yeah, absolutely.

SK: Yeah. I’m just trying to think of it. I never worked in the field, not for like a… I had short stints, but it was never my full-time job to be in the field. So, in a lot of ways, I don’t know if I have seen that much change. Again, my alma mater was about 25% female engineering undergraduate students. It’s still about 25% female undergraduates. And then in our home province, only about 10% of practising engineers are women.

So, in a lot of ways, a lot of the programmes that are trying to increase the number of female engineering students, I’m like, but why? if you can’t retain them in the industry, why produce, why encourage more people to take it if they aren’t being retained in industry? Maybe you should look at why they’re not being retained in industry, what’s going on there. But my experiences in industry, I mean, actually NovAtel has had a lot of, and geomatics in general, has had a lot of prominent women professors and key technical people. So, Janet is not here at HxGN Live, but internally referred to as the mother of our RTK algorithms inside of NovAtel. It’s pretty rare to have someone who was a technical specialist for their whole career that’s a woman, who’s probably… Hmm.

BK: Yeah.

SM: Close to retirement?

SK: Yeah. She’s close to retirement. Yeah. Yeah. No. So, I mean she’s got 15 years on me for sure, right? So, there was a lot of actually very… There was a lot of prominent women, especially in technical roles. I never… For my specific area, I don’t know if I’ve seen it change that much, but in a lot of ways there was a pretty good situation even 20 years ago type of thing.

BK: Okay.

SK: Yeah.

SM: Probably worth pointing out that Sandy does much more technical work than I do. I actually work in marketing and product management. So, using my engineering background to kind of make that link between what is the customer looking for and understanding, having that background and understanding the technology and being able to then interface with our engineering teams. And so maybe that’s why I see maybe a bit more of a shift than she does, because I am working more on the business side, or working with marketing teams, which do traditionally have more women in them.

BK: Yeah. Okay. So, you mentioned industry retention. Why do you think that there’s not a retention?

SK: Oh yeah. Well, I mean it’s my own personal, speculative theories on it.

BK: No that’s okay, though. Yeah, no, I’m curious because I think there’s a lot of… What’s the word? Awareness that we need to bring to the table.

SK: I think the first five years of your career after you finish your, like… You’re done your school and you’re going out into industry; I think if you have a certain level of, I don’t know, idealism or expectations or something like that, the first three to five years of your career can have quite a few pretty crappy moments in it. There’ll be a lot of times when you’re like, “I got a master’s degree to do what?” And I think that if you haven’t found a place where you feel comfortable, and you feel valued, and you’re doing interesting work, which a lot of people in university think they’re going to be able to do really interesting workday two on the job. And it often… You got to build up to that. And you’re going to do some not awesome… There is some slightly drudgery kind of things that have to happen, or you’ve got to learn and get to a certain level of expertise and experience before you could do things.

I think that if you are in that period of your career, and if you happen to have a maternity leave, then I think it’s hard to come back to a place that you haven’t felt confident. And maybe you’re not excited about your work. Maybe you haven’t got to the point where it’s fun and cool. And then you have a hard choice on your hands, right? So how do you go back to it? And I think there is some… I think that definitely, and that’s, I always say it’s my goal to make all of the managers as terrified of their female employees taking maternity leave as they are of their male employees taking paternity leave. Because that’s the part that drives me nuts. It’s the assumption that, well, of course, you’re the mother. Everything’s going to stop because you’re the mother.

And really, I mean, in some ways that could be really insulting to men, because, come on, you’re not a functioning adult that’s also capable of doing this? So, I think that’s part of it. And I think there is maybe an idealism aspect of it because a lot of… It’s probably changing now, but for my generation, a lot of women didn’t have mothers who worked in an engineering discipline. And there’s a lot of things about working in an organisation and the reality of it that it’s not super awesome every day.

BK: Of course not.

SK: And I think that a lot of women may have higher expectations for what it’s going to be like. And if it doesn’t meet their expectation, you do have more choices as a woman, because for people who know me, they’d be pretty sure I had a brain injury. If I was like, you know what guys? I’ve decided that I’m going to spend more time with my family and I’m quitting my job and I’m going to stay home with my family.

The majority of women who say that would… People would only say positive things to them. Like what a great choice you’ve made, blah, blah, blah. Could my husband say that and get the same level of societal support? In no way. So, I think it’s still the default assumption that a woman’s career is an option, whereas for men, it is 100% a requirement that you will be earning an income. And so, I think part of it is there’s maybe more choice, but I think it could be tied to just higher expectations for maybe an idealised, what is the work world going to look like?

BK: Interesting.

SM: Yeah. I totally agree with all of that. You said that really well. Maybe something I would add is that I do think we have an opportunity now post COVID when we’ve seen how well people are able to work at home and give people a little bit more balance and ability to, okay. “I’d like to take an hour off in the middle of the day and go watch something at my kid’s school or go volunteer at my kid’s school.” And so, I think it’s going to be really… I agree that one of the biggest challenges as an organisation is that when women start having children, they do face this very difficult choice about coming back to work. And absolutely if we’re not giving them opportunities to feel like they are doing something meaningful, then of course, raising children is very meaningful and many women choose to do that instead.

And so, we have to be making sure that we have something very interesting for them to come back to and we are not limiting their career progression, we’re making sure that they have opportunities to progress, and that they don’t feel that they’ve put their career on hold for a year. But I do think that there’s opportunity here to strike a better balance and present working parents in general. I don’t want to just put mothers into that category because in Canada there’s a… It’s becoming a lot more common for dads to take time off as well, which I think is fabulous. And organisations are starting to recognise that and see that, okay, both of the parents are contributing equally to raising this family and both of their careers are important. So, I do think we have an opportunity now to hopefully provide some better options for working parents so that they want to come back to work.

BK: Yeah. No, these are really, really good points and I appreciate you bringing them all up. Because I mean, I’ve seen it too. And you brought up the career progression issue too. I think that’s one that I’ve seen ruts within certain careers. It’s like you get to a point it’s like, well, there’s nowhere else to go. So, you have to do something that doesn’t make sense. And I don’t know how to fix that one either, but that’s another thing. Well, I mean, I know how to fix it, but nobody listens to me.

SM: Yeah. And then imagine you’ve reached that rut and then… And you take a year off and then you come back, and then you wonder, “okay, what are the options are actually available to me?” And while you’ve been away, somebody else maybe at a similar level was presented with an opportunity that you weren’t given because you were on leave for a year. So as an organisation, and we need to look at ways that we can ensure that people who do choose to take time off to spend on maternity or paternity leave are still given those career options.

BK: Yeah. That’s true. That is very difficult. Okay. So, talk about some of the unique perspectives that you’ve seen from… Okay. So, for example, how did you feel that your gender gave you a unique perspective on a challenge that you faced at work?

SK: We were talking about this one beforehand. This one’s hard to answer because I can’t… I don’t know what unique perspective my gender gives me. I only know what my own… I only know my perspective, and it’s mine.

BK: Fair point.

SK: And for me, I mean, I’ve only moved through life in my current form. And I mean, I was attracted to an engineering career because it was measurably objective. It wasn’t subjective. It wasn’t… So, because it was that, I like to say, even though I don’t wear nail polish, you can’t tell who typed the lines of code that just compiled. You can’t tell if there was nail polish on those hands that typed those lines of code. If it compiles, it compiles. Well done, hopefully it passes the set of tests that says it meets the requirements next. So, I mean, as Sara was saying, throughout my career, I have always wanted to bring an engineering perspective. And I have never wanted to be identified or recognised as a female engineer or a woman fill in the blank. My goal has always been to make people forget they’re dealing with anyone other than Sandy. Make it completely individual. And I don’t know what somebody’s notion is of what being a woman is. Everybody has a different definition of that.

BK: No, but I mean that perspective right there is actually really good, because you’re saying, I want to be known as an engineer.

SK: Yes.

BK: And I don’t want to be someone’s, oh, well you’re this person or you’re… It’s just… I’m an engineer. It’s equal, essentially. So that is a perspective and that’s perfect.

SK: Yeah. I mean, until LinkedIn… I mean, Sandy with a Y is my name. Until LinkedIn happened you had to meet me in person to find out I was a woman. Now my picture’s up there. It’s obvious.

SM: Now everyone knows.

BK: It’s all over.

SM: I think it’s really difficult to identify what as a woman makes… how that creates a unique perspective at work. I found this question very awkward and difficult to answer. I would say in general, we just need to recognise that any team, company, group, benefits from having diverse people on it. Whether that be men, women, people of colour, different backgrounds, different experiences, the more diverse your team is, the better job you’re going to do. You’re going to get much more different perspectives and inputs. And also, just having that diversity within your organisation and your team makes sure that you’re always evolving and you’re not stagnating with just kind of like groupthink or one way to look at things.

BK: I like that.

SM: I look at it more that way, that it’s important to have all types of diversity-

BK: Agreed.

SM: In the company-

BK: Agreed.

SM: And in the teams you’re working on.

BK: Personality types and everything. I mean, everybody has different strengths. It’s funny. So just to kind of clarify here, I didn’t write this question either. It was given to me. And so, I find it interesting though that I’m just kind of going off like, oh yeah, I’ll make sure to get through these questions. But I find it interesting how it was awkward for you to answer this. And I didn’t know, I thought you gave… you wrote it and gave it to me on this. So interestingly though, this sparked some really… I like this conversation that we’re having, because it’s kind of, well, hold on, that’s not the way we want to be identified in that perspective. So, I’m actually glad that maybe the awkward moment was helpful-

SM: Yeah.

BK: In many ways.

SK: Well, I was like, Hmm. I could just be a really lousy interview and be like, no, no, I-

SM: There’s nothing that I’ve…

SK: There’s nothing, no. But I thought that was not nice.

BK: No, I actually really like how you answered, both of you answered this, because I think it does kind of bring it up that, hold on, that’s not the way we want to be looked at.

SK: Oh no, yeah.

BK: I like this.

SK: Especially when I was an undergraduate to be perfectly honest, I avoided all the women in science and engineering things, because to be blend, I wanted to be… Oh, sorry, how to put it. I didn’t want it to be seen that it was… Sorry, how to put it. Any kind of weakness or needing additional anything or special. It was like-

BK: Have you been treated that way? I’m curious.

SK: Treated which way?

BK: People have treated you seeing a weakness or… Like you just said. Have people actually considered you to have a weakness?

SK: Oh, I think the way I describe it best is it’s whether you come into a situation and it’s whether you get an assumption of competence or an assumption of incompetence. So, I’ve had some people say, oh, no, no, no. I always assume because there’s so few women in engineering that any woman in engineering, I’m dealing with must be, I’m like, yeah. Okay, sure, fine. I’ll tell you how it feels from my side most of the time. So yeah, no, throughout my career, I’ve been preparing for client meetings, getting the room ready and someone’s come in and assumed I was part of the administrative staff that was there to get it ready.

I’ve been in trade show booths and somebody’s asked to… wanted to ask a technical question at a time in my career when I was writing the lines of code that was running on that device and not getting that I was the person to answer it. So, I say it’s often fairly subtle, and you’ll come into a meeting, and you have to spend the first maybe 15 minutes of it throwing out enough little bits of credibility, building some things to bring it up. And once you get through those 15 or 20 minutes of it, I usually have that person.

BK: Yeah. But still, that’s a waste of time, and also that’s not respectful at all. Doesn’t feel good.

SK: Yeah. I mean it’s kind of a… Yeah.

SM: It’s true. I have had similar experiences and I, in new situations, when you’re meeting new people in new customer meetings, you do always have this feeling that you have to first prove yourself. And it is subtle. It is in the kind of behaviours, body language, whether somebody is making eye contact, how much you’re included in the conversation, whether you are actually consulted, or what do you think about this? And of course, not everybody is like this. There are some scenarios you go into, it’s wonderful. Everybody is very open and collaborative and treats everybody with respect. But I cannot even keep track of the number of times in my career that I have had to establish, yes, there’s a reason that I’m here. I am contributing from a business or technical perspective. I am not here to bring you coffee or take notes for the meeting. So absolutely that does still happen all the time.

BK: I’m curious. Do you see it in an age category more often, or is it all over the place these days?

SM: Maybe, sometimes it is. I would-

BK: Generational, I guess was the word I was asking.

SM: There is some generational aspect. I don’t want to lump everybody into one category.

BK: No, I’m just asking, more because I’m curious too.

SM: It is more likely there’s also some… Sometimes it’s cultural.

BK: Oh, okay. Okay.

SM: With some cultures that are just more deferential to men, it becomes more difficult to establish yourself as the technical expert or senior person in the room.

BK: Okay.

SK: Yeah. I don’t know if I’d say there’s much of a difference on generational things.

BK: It’s just mostly a mix?

SK: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a bit of a mix. Usually what you find is when you first start the conversation, the questions directed towards, well, me, they’ll start off really shallow and gentle and super superficial. And then you’re like, oh, okay. And then that’s how you dig in and be like, oh, well you said this and then drill, drill, drill, drill, toss out a couple credibility building terms. I’m like, okay, great. Can we get down to it now?

SM: Can you ask the real question that you have to ask in the first place?

BK: Yeah. Interesting. Interesting.

SK: I usually take the… What’s the word? I view… It is as hosting in hospitality. So, if somebody is expecting coffee or tea or whatever, of course I’ll do that if I’m hosting you, because that’s gracious and that’s what you would do-

SM: Absolutely.

SK: As the host.

BK: Yeah. Everybody, everybody should, yeah. Agreed. Okay. So, let’s kind of wrap this up then with… what kind of advice you would have then moving forward. So, advise women coming into the field and advise companies on how they should be doing things. Talk about mentorship. I’m curious to know what you think should be done on all those levels.

SM: Definitely organisations, I think need to make an effort to have programmes for underrepresented groups. That includes women, that includes people of colour. We’ve had a mentoring programme at Hexagon A&P for a while now. But as part of… And I’ve participated in that programme, and I’ve always tried to seek out a relationship with a female mentor so that I am mentoring a female mentee. Because through my career, I’ve had many wonderful mentors, none of them have been women. Not that I haven’t had wonderful women mentors. I have literally had no female mentors myself.

So, I have made a point of becoming a mentor to younger women in our organisation because I think it’s really… You can learn things from anybody. But one thing that I found that I was lacking is being able to speak with somebody who understood what I was going through. Understood what it was like to juggle a demanding career with raising a family. And so, I think as an organisation, we absolutely need to put programmes like that in place. Make sure that there are training programmes to present… Back to the conversation we had about making sure there’s career opportunities for women to progress throughout the organisation. Well, make sure that they have development and training opportunities so that they can progress into more leadership roles.

BK: I like it.

SK: Yeah. I think… I was trying to think, I actually think I have had a few female mentors. Not like a formal mentorship relationship, but I have had a few female mentors on the technical side for sure. For the company aspect of it, and not to make it about men, but I think a lot of it is actually placing expectations on the men as well. I manage a group, and to be honest, until I had children of my own, I had the luxury of being able to stay at the office as long as I needed to get whatever I needed done, because I didn’t have to be at day-care at 5:30, no later to do pickup. And then once I had those constraints on my time, I did get more conscious of people wasting my time in the core business hours, because I had a constraint.

Now, again, I often would be back at my desk to finish or my computer to finish whatever email I wasn’t able to finish. But that was something that I became conscious of the men in my group who I knew had young children. And I’d be like, you should go home right now too. So, I think part of it is for companies, yeah, that definitely not putting a black mark against anybody’s name who takes paternity leave and viewing them as uncommitted to the job. Because, man, I’ve never done so much work at 10:00 PM until I had children, because that’s the time I had to do it. And it’s a short period actually. I mean, again, it’s kind of silly to work for a company for 18 years, but I mean, what is six months of maternity leave in 18 years? What is that?

BK: That’s true.

SK: I mean, there’s a longevity aspect of not everybody works at a company for that long. Yeah, so I would say definitely reaching out to those younger women, or actually anyone who feels like they don’t… If they don’t have a voice, right? The number of times I sat in a meeting room and was like, that’s weird. Why is nobody mentioning blah, blah, blah. It seems really obvious to me, but no, one’s bringing it up. Oh my God. It must be obvious. And then two weeks later, holy crap, that was not obvious to anyone else. I should have said that out loud.

BK: Yeah. Or pointing out and saying, what do you think?

SK: And trying to encourage that. And build the confidence there. And then really taking a good, hard look at hiring practises and what is it that you envision as someone who’s a manager or a leader? Get explicit about it. What is it about some individual that makes you think they don’t have leadership qualities? What is it? Be explicit. Don’t let anyone just absorb sort of the unspoken societal expectation or implication about something like that. No, you’re going to have to say to me, no, I don’t think that you are ready for that position because we think you’re not going to be able to focus on your job enough because you have a two-year-old at home. Say it. But you won’t.

BK: Hmm. Yeah.

SK: Because you can’t.

BK: Yeah. That’s a good point. That’s a good point. My goodness. Well, thank you. I know we could go on a lot more with this, but I really appreciate what you have both said here. And I think it’s important. I mean, clearly, it’s important obviously, but I’m glad you’re doing it. I’m glad you’re getting out and speaking out and making changes. So hopefully the changes start moving faster. Let’s move towards that. We’ll hope for it. But anyway, thank you both for your time and thank you for being on the show today.

SK: Thank you.

SM: Thanks for having us.

BK: Sara Masterson, Director of Positioning Services and Sandy Kennedy, VP of Innovation from Hexagon’s Autonomy and Positioning Division, thank you very much for joining us here on HxGN Radio.

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