The Trade Desk’s engineering manager, Azadeh Khojandi (centre in lead image) has had a remarkable story, from protesting for basic rights for women in her native Iran to winning the Tech category at B&T‘s Women in Media awards.
Speaking to Women Leading Tech, Khojandi explained that she “Grew up in a country where there is systematic discrimination against women, it’s the law, there are salary differences. I then came to a country where you could see the gap is smaller and it’s not systematic, it’s just a matter of bias.”
These biases, she explained, related more to women’s perceptions of themselves and inertia within business cultures, rather than the all-encompassing oppression she experienced in Iran.
“In Australia, you can see that the responsibilities, sometimes you don’t get them because you’re a woman and because they don’t think that you can do it. I’m not saying that it’s everywhere and that it’s happened across all of my career but I could see that sometimes there was a perception that maybe a person is not senior enough and we should hire them at a lower level, see how they do and then gradually give them the opportunities,” she said.
Khojandi, however, was not fazed by these issues and has actively fought against them to improve the working lives of women across Sydney.
Within The Trade Desk, she led the creation of the “Women in TTD” internal network that helps its female employees develop the soft skills necessary to progress in their careers.
Some 120 women from across APAC regularly attend the sessions, which attract international speaking talent from outside the organisation. Since its inception, no female engineers from The Trade Desk’s APAC offices have left the firm and female engineers have earned promotions at a higher rate than their male counterparts.
“It’s a good feeling to get rewarded for the work that you have been doing and to be recognised. It also adds to your credibility and because of that, you could drive more initiatives at work,” she enthused.
She has also driven the growth of Girl GEEK Sydney over the past six years and transformed it into the not-for-profit organisation GEEQ.
It has helped almost 6,000 women develop their technical and soft skills.
“It’s all free and it’s for everyone so it’s not like if you’re from a different gender or different groups cannot attend. But the focus is women,” she explained.
“We try and create an inclusive environment for everyone to grow but the main focus is to help women get to the level where they can ask for promotions, negotiate their salaries, they can ask for more responsibilities or when they see someone unintentionally speak over them. It’s getting them a seat at the table, making sure they know their rights and that they ask for them.”
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