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This Woman Can’s founding editor, Sarah Cannata, sits down to have a chat with tech queen and co-founder of Envato, Cyan Ta’eed.

Women have the tendency to place successful women on a pedestal. Women such as Envato’s Cyan Ta’eed, Boost Juice’s Janine Allis, RedBalloon’s Naomi Simson… we’re all guilty of it. And yet, the more I’ve reached out and spoken to women who we perceive as strong and having all of the answers, the more I understand this is merely my perception.

“Somewhere along the way, I started to believe that it was more important to look smart than to actually be smart. And that it was better not to do anything really challenging in case I failed.

I learned that a truly confident person asks questions and asks for help.

 

I wasted so much time pretending I knew the answers already. Now my goal isn’t to look smart, it’s to actually be smart, and that means always asking, even if I fear it might make me look stupid.”

Thanks to women such as Ta’eed who are putting their hands up and giving us an insight into what really makes them tick, they’re helping scores of career-minded women to realise we’re all human and we all have our doubts.

Ta’eed recalls going through the Telstra Business Woman of the Year process and coming to an important realisation after getting to know the other finalists quite well.

“They’ve achieved some honestly incredible things but they’re no different to other people – they just decided to ignore their fears and try. And that can lead to great things.”

From the outside looking in, what is so inspiring about Ta’eed’s work is that she’s so committed to changing the playing field for women across so many areas. While a great passion of hers is inclusion and diversity in tech, Envato is also making great waves in terms of workplace flexibility and parental leave policies and Ta’eed has her sights set on asking how tech can benefit indigenous communities in a meaningful way.

And at the heart of Ta’eed’s ambitions is realising who she is and being true to herself as a self-confessed “grab the inspiring idea and run with it type of girl”.

“I don’t know what everything I’m working towards looks like, and I have no idea how to tackle something like enticing indigenous people into tech, but it sure would be interesting to try.”

Behind Ta’eed – the career-minded businesswoman who’s leaning in and challenging other women to embrace their fears – is a mum who’s incredibly family-orientated and admits motherhood has changed her as a businesswoman. Why? Because it allows her to be more carefree, less mindful of others and focus on setting the right example for her kids.

“That meant being brave, taking chances, and doing work with real purpose. There is nothing like knowing tiny humans are watching you and learning from you to make you want to be the best you can be!”

It also opened her eyes as to just how challenging juggling motherhood and a career can be.

 

To the point where Ta’eed has made it her personal mission to ensure Envato is a place that not only helps parents, but ensures anyone working who needs flexibility, can truly thrive.

“I always think that if I find it hard, with all of the help and flexibility and control that I have, then it must be a million times harder for other parents who don’t have all of that, and it makes me respect them all the more and want to support them in their careers.”

Speaking of change that has the potential to cause a ripple effect, while it’s an incredibly complex issue, it would be difficult to chat with Ta’eed without asking her why it’s so important we encourage more women in general, not only mothers, to enter into tech.

“The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) estimates we could lose up to 40% of jobs in Australia in the next 10 to 15 years, and many of those job types are primarily populated by women.”

Ta’eed reels off this alarming stat without even thinking before adding, “we need to get women into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) roles because those are the spaces that will grow. If we don’t, there is the potential for an even greater employment gap between women and men, as well as an economic impact for Australia overall.”

It’s clear Ta’eed is living proof that a woman can not only survive but really thrive in tech, an exciting and lucrative industry.

 

Something tells us the bulk of the challenge lies in changing the current mindset in terms of what people view as ‘male friendly’ and ‘female friendly’ job roles.

If you walk away from this month’s issue of This Woman Can with just one lingering question to consider, make it this: what unintentional seeds in terms of career are you planting in your children’s minds without even realising it?

 

Sarah Cannata

Founding editor at This Woman Can
Sarah Cannata is the founding editor of This Woman Can and is the author of the picture book, Willow Willpower. She's a self-confessed introvert who believes quality storytelling can change the world.
Sarah Cannata
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