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Women Working Overseas: The Need for Female Role Models in Global Mobility

In our current cultural climate, you’d be hard-pressed to find a corporate HR or marketing department that hasn’t thrown around the terms’ gender diversity’, ‘equality’ or ‘inclusivity’. Buzzwords and goodwill campaigns, while generating much-needed exposure, often have the unfortunate result of assuming all is now well. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go before we achieve true equity in the workplace.

The global mobility gender gap

Despite the growing demand for more equal representation of men and women across all industries, statistics still indicate that there is a gender gap in international deployment.

According to international consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), despite 71% of women stating they would be willing to experience an international assignment, only 20% are currently doing so. The study also revealed that 57% of global mobility leaders agreed that women were underrepresented in their mobility populations.

The need for female role models

In response to this still established gender gap, PwC cites the need for more exposure for success stories which can help generate and uplift female role models.

While the responsibility and weight of change should always lie on companies with unfair policies and internalised biases, it’s been proven that representation affects what women (and other minorities) believe is possible. When women are represented in an industry, role, or opportunity, it makes it more likely other women will see themselves in similar positions and set up those goals for themselves.  

Championing success stories

In a bid to do our bit, and show our support for a more equal workforce, throughout the month of August, we’ll be sharing diverse stories of women who’ve undertaken successful international assignments. It’s our hope that these stories will encourage, inspire and spur on the next generation of women in the global mobility space.

Gender diversity series

Over the course of 6 months, I met with women from different backgrounds, home countries and career paths. We spoke about their international experiences, the things they loved and the difficulties they faced. Every woman had a different story – some travelled for many years, others a few months; some initiated the travel while others were deployed by their employer. The destinations were different. The stories different. And yet, a common theme emerged. Despite the various difficulties of leaving home, culture shock and loneliness, there was always a positive personal and professional growth aspect.

Everyone shared about becoming more open minded towards other cultures and ways of thinking. Many saw this affect how they approached their work and personal relationships upon their return. There were stories where moving overseas was the catalyst for a career change, and it was common to hear the experiences were foundational in later career progression.  

Putting this series together has been personally enriching for me as it coincided with preparing for my own international work experience. Speaking with this group of women who’ve in a sense gone before me was inspiring and comforting in a way that reading endless forum threads on ‘what to pack’ and ‘what to see’ never really is. I was able to glean wisdom, insight and advice for making the most of my trip both personally and professionally, and I felt encouraged and supported in my plans.

It’s my hope that this collection of stories will do the same for whoever reads them.

Catherine Eddy offers Marketing, Strategy, Insight, Cx, Ux, NPD, repositioning through her consulting service. She’s been a high-level manager working across diverse markets including Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia and NZ. Catherine lived and worked as an expat in Indonesia for ten years as an Executive Director with the global data and measurement company, Nielsen. Read more about her story here. 

Jude Burger, the Director of Sourcing Capability and Culture at Digital Transformation. She first moved overseas directly after graduating from college. The move launched a career and interest in IT, spanning nearly 30 years across small start-ups, her own business ventures, large IT companies and government. She spent the best part of her 20’s and 30’s travelling and working across Europe and the US. Read more about her story here. 

Macon Macalintal is one of Shield GEO’s implementation team members. After never travelling outside of the Philippines until she was 20, Macon moved to Singapore to work in various global mobility roles. From there, she studied her Masters in Strategic Project Management through the Erasmus program spending 6 months in Italy, Sweden and Scotland. Read more about her story here. 

Rebecca Lane runs her own HR consulting firm Brick Lane Consulting after years of working with some of the world’s major banks including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and ABN AMRO before switching industries and joining the food and beverage giant, Lion. She has travelled extensively throughout her life but her time spent working in London really changed the course of her entire career. Read more about her story here. 

Before Eliza Rose Juane, joined ShieldGEO as one of our accountants she worked for PwC Philippines. During her time with them she joined an auditing team being deployed to Sydney. Before this opportunity, Eliz had never been outside of the Philippines or moved out of her family home. Understandably, the trip was eye-opening for her and was a huge time of learning. Read more about her story here. 

Nancy Settle-Murphy runs Guided Insights, a virtual training and facilitation service helping distributed teams collaborate and communicate effectively. While she was working for global company Digital Equipment Corporation, she initiated a shift in her role to have a more international focus. This led to a stint working at the Hong Kong HQ which she found to be a particularly growing experience. Read more about her story here. 

Sparkle Hayter is a Canadian journalist and author. Sparkle travelled extensively throughout her career and notably lived in Pakistan where she covered the Afghan Civil War for the Toronto Star. Later in life she moved to India acquiring contracts for Bollywood films and producing content for a Canadian movie network. Read more about her story here. 

Article by Bree Caggiati


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