London’s #WomenInGeospatial Breakfast
OGC’s Marie-Françoise Voidrot (left) and Dr Katherine Royse from the British Geological Survey (right).
A diverse audience gathered at the hub to hear the career journeys of two of Geospatial’s great female leaders: Dr Katherine Royse from the British Geological Survey, and OGC’s own Marie-Françoise Voidrot. The two speakers shared wonderful stories of their successes and challenges within the Geospatial Industry, which inspired some fabulous discussion regarding the challenges we as a community face in improving diversity in the Geospatial Industry.
Kate was our first speaker, and she talked about how her career has lead her to where she is today, as well as some of the challenges she faced - and continues to face - as a female in a male dominated industry.
Kate offered some choice advice for the audience, including on the value of networking, as well as the following 4 tips:
- If at first you don’t succeed, keep going. Please don’t give up. The first job interview you do is not the last. It’s a learning experience: take from it what you can and go to the next one. ‘You are not the right fit today’ does not mean you won’t be the right fit tomorrow.
- If you don’t value yourself, no-one else will. Do not look to your manager or boss for validation, because they may not want to give it - after all, you probably want their job.
- Success is what is right for you, and what is right for you at that time in your life. Success for you is not what success is for me - success is about your whole life, not just your career. You are successful in life when you have chosen a path and are happy with it.
- Good leadership is not about working 24/7. I’m not a good leader if I’m still doing work on a Sunday at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. I am a good leader because I have life experiences outside of work, that I know how to switch off and focus on work at that time.
Our second speaker was Marie-Françoise. She also talked about how she came to where she is in her career, including her education in America, and her early days as a cimputer systems engineer.
Marie-Françoise additionally offered the audience the following advice:
- Each of us can be a potential role model to someone.
- When you love what you do, you work a lot, but it doesn’t feel like you’re working.
- Dare to go out of your comfort zone. Dare to go beyond the cliches. Be open to new technologies, new challenges, new opportunities - and good things will happen.
- Being open - open standards, open data, and open mindedness - is one of the major keys of success.
Following the two talks, the floor was opened to everyone at the breakfast for discussion. There then followed an open conversation about some of the challenges that audience members had faced, and what they could do to improve the situation for future generations. The discussion had a wonderfully positive tone and it was generally believed that the industry has become much more inclusive over time, and that that looks to continue. The event closed with one of our participants pointing out that diversity rather than just gender equality is the goal we need to be striving for in the workplace.
As the facilitator of the session I asked participants to write down what they “love about working in the geospatial industry.” We collected responses on the whiteboard, and have transcribed them below.
- “Earth from space is BEAUTIFUL”
- “Down to earth community. Respect. Working on eye level.”
- “Showing people how cool data can be.”
- “Sharing the power of maps! The Great community :) “
- “Geospatial underpins so many market sectors & industries - can be something for everyone.”
- “The beauty of EO imagery & maps - using them to inform policy/SDGs”
- “Problem-solving is fun.”
- “Thinking spatially. Using it in different industries.”
- “Interdisciplinary work! Incorporates math, design, computer science…”
- “How geospatial data can impact and shape people’s lives.”
- “I love the fact that this topic is so multi-disciplinary/transversal to so many different fields.”
- "Seeing the work we do make a real difference to society <3 “
- “Solving problems.”
- “I <3 using cutting edge technology for something that feels so innate - learning about our surroundings.”
- “Linking people. Supporting communication. To go further in innovation. Follow my values.”
- “Collaborating with others to make products that help people.”
Additionally, one of our lovely participants, Holly Smith from the AGI’s Early Careers Network, has also written an article on the breakfast that can be found in this month’s GIS Professional Magazine along many other great articles looking at diversity and gender balance in our industry.
The day was such a success that OGC is going to host events like this more regularly, in order to provide a channel for anyone to talk about issues that they’re facing in the industry, as well as to provide networking, mentoring, and other methods of support in order to better nurture greater diversity in this globally important industry. Stay tuned for more details as they surface!