“You will find yourself at times as the one woman at the table. Remember you are never alone. Many are beside you on other tables and you are giving courage to another woman to pull up a chair beside you. And don’t forget the vast majority coming after you. Your voice is needed to shape what comes next”
Mayase Jere is a human-centred Technologist. She specialises in Agile software delivery, Agile team development/coaching and product thinking. As a senior consultant for over six years she worked with teams across Australia, UK, China, and India in various industries developing modern digital businesses. She is currently a Senior Delivery Lead at REA Group leading software teams responsible for organisations core platforms.
Mayase is an Executive Board member of Incubate Foundation. Her passion is in making education accessible to every child and increasing the leadership of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Through her platform “The Art of Otherness” she showcases oral literature from around the globe and amplifies conversations on fearless authenticity.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to women just starting their careers in STEMM?
What I love about Technology is that there is always something new to learn, understand and the good we can do to humanity with it is infinite, but so is the harm. If we let only a few perspectives, ideas or opinions drive how we build the future then we are doing a disservice to humanity. My advice to women starting STEMM careers is it’s not going to be easy. You will find yourself at times as the one woman at the table. Remember you are never alone. Many are beside you on other tables and you are giving courage to another woman to pull up a chair besides you. And don’t forget the vast majority coming after you. Your voice is needed to shape what comes next.
What is the most important advice you have ever been given?
Back yourself and have fun is the best advice I have received recently. Sometimes we get caught up in the seriousness of work and forget that one third of our lives will be spent at work and it needs to be a place that you enjoy. An inclusive workplace where fun can be had is just as important as doing your daily programming tasks. I have also come to understand that they will always be smarter people in the room but that does not invalidate my ideas. Backing myself is me acknowledging that I will never be the loudest or smartest person in the room, but I am great at my job and if I don’t speak up then we are missing out on a solution.
What has been the biggest barrier you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
When I left university, I was happy to get a job. It didn’t matter so much how much I got paid, I just wanted to do my best work and show my capabilities. As my career progressed I realised I had fallen behind my peers in pay and negotiating for a higher increase to catch up became a challenge. I have had to come out of my comfort zone and get better at highlighting my value to others and get senior leaders to be my champions. It can feel false sometimes because you want your hard work to do the talking but I now understand especially when it comes to remuneration to sell is human as Daniel Pink puts it.
How can we accelerate women in STEMM into leadership roles?
We need more sponsors to connect women to spaces of power and influence. By coupling sponsorship from male champions with mentoring women can build their leadership skill sets and grow networks of influence. There is also a need for organisations to make the promotion process transparent to enable aspiring leaders to see where their gaps are. This will take away the notion of promotions happening on the golf course.
What do you do to cope with the pressures and challenges of leading and/or managing a team?
I have become more comfortable with the fact that I do not need to know all the answers and that am best suited being an enabler. I trust my team to come up with solutions. Building high performing teams takes time and collaboration. In software delivery there are pressures to meet deadlines, keep your team motivated and fixing issues quickly which have brought out the imposter syndrome in me. I fall into the trap of feeling that I am not leading the team well or implementing effective change. Taking time to step out and reflect on what has worked well and where I can improve helps me remember that leadership is a journey. I believe in continuous improvement as a mechanism to develop myself and my teams.
LinkedIn: Mayase Jere
‘We need to start early’: Analyst Mayase Jere on achieving more diversity in STEM by Jessie Tu, Women’s Agenda, November 18, 2019.
Episode 34: The Australian Ethnic Pay Gap, by Carlo Oreglia, SBS Language. August 23, 2019.