Press For Progress w/ Wheelhouse

Cindy Larson / 8th March 2018 / Comment

In anticipation of International Women’s Day, we wanted to feature several of the amazing women at Wheelhouse DMG and their thoughts on striving for gender parity and being a woman in tech. Besides our discussion of this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, #PressForProgress, we asked each woman to introduce what she does and her other identity intersections that inform her feminism.

Introducing

Sunni Campbell: I touch on a wide range of projects, supporting clients in our SEO practice and enjoy all things technical from analyzing data trends to preparing website audits and discussing ways to enhance site design and content for better conversion. Intersections: Person of color, LGBTQ, transracial adoptee
Laura Stiles: I am a Manager of Digital Advertising and split my time between managing clients and supporting my team and their respective clients. Intersections: Age (I’m younger than most of my client contacts and some of my direct reports)
Erika Bigelow: I’m an Associate on the Digital Strategy team. My focus is on content and local SEO for a large healthcare provider. Intersections: Primary caregiver
Pilar Suter: I make sure our finances are on point. I enjoy celebrating our individual strengths within Wheelhouse, doing what we love, & collaborating to make things happen! Intersections: Second-generation immigrant, Hispanic
Casey Curtis: I’m the VP of Digital Strategy. I lead the team responsible for setting SEO, CRO, Content, Email and overall Digital Strategy for our clients. Intersections: Primary Income Earner, First-generation college graduate
Darla Rhodes: I’m a Digital Marketing Strategist for clients, and I also support other strategists in executing their recommendations for clients. Intersections: Single parent
Cindy Larson: I’m the Director of People and Operations. I ensure we hire and retain talented team members from diverse backgrounds and experiences, partner with managers to build high-functioning teams, and create the structures, processes and environment for all team members to prosper and grow. Intersections: Hispanic / Person of Color

What motivates you to #PressForProgress?

Sunni: I appreciate the current momentum, but I’m also aware of who is missing from these larger platforms, whose voices aren’t being represented or heard. With gender bias being so deeply rooted in social and political institutions, it’s imperative to continue to show up for women around the world.

Laura: In my career, I’ve observed that women typically wait for praise as opposed to pressing for recognition, which often puts them in a position to not receive the acknowledgement they deserve. I hope to be an identifier & amplifier celebrating the accomplishments of other women.

Cindy: To me, it’s about justice and compassion. If we want to see less exploitation and less poverty, we need more women empowered in the economy, in the media and in the political realm. If we want to continue to innovate, to solve the hard problems of our world, we need a variety of voices at the table. I also think about my niece and younger women coming after me. I’m inspired to push for a better world for the next generation.

Casey: I’m the first woman in a leadership role at Wheelhouse. While hard work and determination obviously contributed to my success, I recognize how fortunate I am. I also had male co-workers, and those in leadership, who gave me a seat at the table. I want to do the same for other women in our organization. I’m in a unique position to be an advocate for women on our team, and I want to ensure that I’m representing women from all intersections.

Darla: I want change for me, change for my children.

What are you most excited/passionate about in the push for gender parity globally?

Cindy: I’m excited for the movements made for paid parental leave. While not every person desires to have a family, I’m excited to see options extended to women and men that validate the choice and the time needed by all genders. To quote Gloria Steinem, “Until men are raising children as much as women are, women won’t be able to be equal in the workplace.”

Darla: Getting women equally represented in government & decision making.

Casey: I’m incredibly passionate about seeing women around the globe achieve independence and the ability to live, work and prosper without restriction. I believe that every woman should have the right and ability to maintain autonomy in the world, should she so choose.

Pilar: Strength, love, and empowerment! Women across the world are striving to be stronger every single day, and that is exciting!

What woman has inspired or influenced you most?

Pilar: My beautiful mother is a first-generation American from Spain, therefore making me second-generation American. I am fortunate to grow up learning from her strength and grace. She always empowers me to celebrate being a Hispanic woman.

Erika: It’s difficult to narrow this down to just one. I’ve always admired strong women – Katherine Hepburn in films, Elizabeth Bennett, a character in literature, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elizabeth Warren in politics, plus a variety of friends and family.

Laura: Every woman executive (looking at you VP Casey) at Wheelhouse & elsewhere who have allowed me to “see myself” in an executive position.

Casey: I was fortunate to be raised by a very strong, very independent grandmother. She grew up squarely in the middle of the Great Depression, and took that experience with her throughout her life. As a wife she was the primary breadwinner in her household, raising two children and developing a strong career as a crystal specialist for a television manufacturing company. She was an irreplaceable expert in her field and never let anyone forget it!

My grandmother instilled in me early on that I am strong, smart and capable and that I should always be able to support myself. She taught me to stand tall. She taught me that I can be myself and still be a total badass, just like her. Unfortunately, she passed away when I was only nine years old, but I’d like to believe that she would be proud of the woman I’ve become.

What have been the challenges and joys of being a woman in tech?

Sunni: I can’t talk about being a “woman in tech” without talking about the other identities that I hold, as a queer Native woman. This makes the challenges and joys all the more complex!

It brings me a lot of joy to see resources devoted to growing this aspect of diversity, and the resulting new perspectives, dynamics, and opportunities that arise.

On the flip side, the challenge is that we are, as a sector, so far behind on hiring women of color. As an industry, we often hire the “best” person on paper, which, when done without careful attention and processes for inclusion, creates a room full of (basically) the same type of person, when really companies should be striving for as many different perspectives as possible. It can feel isolating, lonely or just disheartening to be one of only a few women of color in a tech room.

Darla: I’ve been challenged by assumptions that my choice to prioritize family means I’m less motivated, not interested in growth, limited by self-doubt, etc. Some of my biggest joys have been meeting other strong women who advocate for improvement.

Casey: Ageism and sexism are always a possibility, and they rear their heads in different ways. I learned early in life how to let it roll off my back, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t suck. I try to surround myself with people who are supportive, fair and who recognize my value. Having a strong support system is so important.

However, I get to work in an incredibly fast-paced environment which is super exciting. Every day I learn something new. I work with a company full of the smartest, most talented and dedicated people I’ve ever met and absorb their knowledge. I get to benefit from the amazing culture and team that we’ve built, and continue to learn and grow every day.

Cindy: I’ve been challenged by the tension and implied trade-offs between warmth and competence, being liked and being respected. As someone who does want children, I also struggle when I don’t see a lot of women with children in positions of power. On the joy side, I’ve been greatly encouraged by the community of women at Wheelhouse and in the industry who are advocating for each other. I’m excited to be a part of building something greater than ourselves.

What would you say to a woman considering entering the digital marketing industry?

Erika: There are roles in digital marketing for all skill sets and what you don’t know can be learned. Don’t let a lack of knowledge in any area hold you back.

Casey: Be self-disciplined. Commit to learning independently and pushing yourself. Don’t expect for others to pull you along. Take risks and don’t wait until you are 100% confident in your abilities. If you do, someone else will have taken your place.
Provide value in all interactions and relationships. Even if it doesn’t benefit you immediately, being helpful and generous will always pay off in the long run.

Sunni: Find your role models, other women, trans or non-binary folks in the industry that you admire and ask them to mentor you. Having someone challenge and support you along the way who has likely experienced the same or similar challenges is really helpful.


This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #PressForProgress. According to the website for International Women’s Day, “Individually, we’re one drop, but, together, we’re an ocean. Commit to a “gender parity mindset” via progressive action. Let’s all collaborate to accelerate gender parity, so our collective action powers equality worldwide.” Explore the pledge options at https://www.internationalwomensday.com/PressforProgress and make your commitment for gender parity this year.

Let us know how you committed, who inspires you, and what gets you excited about the #PressForProgress in the comments or by using the widget below.

By Cindy Larson