#WeLead

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a Sustainability and Business Consultant, professional speaker, Mars One astronaut candidate, biohacker and PhD candidate. I’m fascinated by human behaviour and systems-based thinking and ideas, so I see things holistically and connected – from an orbital perspective.

Who are the women who have inspired you the most in your life?

When people ask me how I was brave enough to sign up to go one-way to Mars I nod towards my mother, whose attitude of ‘why not’ ensures I leave no opportunity unfathomed.

Any other female leaders you look up to?

Some of our current female world leaders (Arden, Merkel, Fredericksen, Solberg, Ing-wen, Jakobsdóttir) have shown that leadership can be firm and compassionate as well as effective.

Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business, particularly in leadership roles?

We need diversity in our businesses, communities and political organisations. Diverse gender, ethnicity, age, ability and life experience to name a few. Without diverse ways of seeing the world, sharing ideas and developing solutions, we continue narrow journeys down echo chambers. In such situations, unconscious bias is hard to identify due to homogeny, and change is slow. However, if not addressed, businesses will suffer over time.

What do you think are barriers for women in the recruitment process?

Two barriers come to mind:

  • unconscious bias within workplaces, and
  • imposter syndrome. Some recruitment processes are still using policies from decades ago, unaware that language, procedures and job practices have changed. This can exclude many people from jobs they would shine in. At the same time, many women still do not believe that they have the experience needed for a role, afraid that if selected they would not be able to do it well. In this instance, we are our worst enemy and say no to ourselves. What would happen if we applied for such roles, and allowed someone else to make the call on our ability to do the role instead of never opening the door to start with?

What do you think contributes to the lack of females taking the plunge in entrepreneurship?

Many of the voices dominating the field of entrepreneurship have been male, and this can be daunting for some women. Also, women have not been brought up to be comfortable with failure, to fail fast and often – something common in entrepreneurship. A shift in mindset towards approaching entrepreneurial endeavours as a journey of discovery may help. When we seek to discover something, we never know what we will find. The sense of curiosity embedded in this can uncover even more insights and ideas.

What more can be done to support women in male-dominated industries?

If we do not make the invisible visible and wrestle with our vulnerabilities, we cannot help industries create higher value and opportunity. This means more women in prominent leadership positions. And more men granting themselves permission to be more open and accepting in the workplace.