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Ans van Nieuwkerk’s Journey in Tech and Advocacy for Equality | International Women’s Day 2024

As part of our series of interviews celebrating International Women’s Day, we bring you insights from Ans van Nieuwkerk, a Security Consultant at Grabowsky, a Xalient company. Ans reflects on her journey in the male-dominated IT industry, highlighting the evolving landscape of women’s empowerment and the strides made toward inclusion. Join us in exploring Ans’s unique experiences and perspectives on equality and diversity in the workplace.

How did you end up in IT?

After completing my degree in physical geography in the late ’80s, finding work was challenging. The field of automation was emerging, and I seized the opportunity to retrain. I was the only woman among thirteen men in the course. Despite my qualifications, I noticed male graduates with lesser credentials being offered better job opportunities. However, Grabowsky welcomed me, and I appreciated being valued and treated as an equal from the start.

 

 

 

How did your gender impact your professional journey?

At Grabowsky, I never encountered discrimination. However, when interacting with clients, I felt a constant need to validate my capabilities. Societal norms played a role, often portraying men as decisive while labeling assertive women negatively. Despite these challenges, my loyalty to Grabowsky grew as I found respect and clarity in our working relationship. The dynamic environment at Grabowsky, with its continuous evolution and the need to adapt to new technologies, has kept my work here consistently engaging and never mundane.

What changes have you observed in inclusivity over the years?

The share of women in technical sectors has improved little in the Netherlands, so there is still a lot of room for improvement. The childcare issue remains a barrier for working women. I’ve personally faced judgment for not conforming to traditional gender roles. It’s crucial to challenge these norms from an early age to foster equality.

What guidance would you give to women embarking on their careers?

Never allow anyone to suggest that being different equates to being inferior. Embrace your distinctive viewpoint; it might just provide superior solutions.

Any final thoughts?

Achieving true equality requires a cultural shift, starting from childhood. We need to provide equal opportunities and encourage diverse interests from an early age. It’s heartening to see progress, but practical support, such as accessible childcare, is essential for women to reach their full potential in the workforce.

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Portrait of Mark Foulsham, Board Advisor, NED, COO/CIO, Fractional Support, Digital Leadership Coach

Mark Foulsham

Board Advisor, NED, COO/CIO, Fractional Support, Digital Leadership Coach

With a broad background as a COO/CIO/CDO, C-Suite Advisor, NED, Senior Transformation Leader and Coach, Mark tackles multiple fronts from the advantage of diverse experience in business operations, technology, procurement, delivery and risk. With a deep knowledge of business models from multiple sectors and extensive experience in fast-paced digital start-ups.

Mark’s work across extensive business types, functions and countries empowers him with experience to bear across silos. Mark has built a reputation for advocating cross-business collaboration, taking a pragmatic approach and championing transformative change.