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International Women’s Day 2022 - Break the Bias

International Women’s Day is a globally recognised event that celebrates and shines a light on economic, political, cultural, and social achievements of women. This year’s theme is Break the Bias and working in a historically male-dominated field, it’s more important than ever to show how women in leading roles shape the future of the construction industry. 

Did you know that in 2021 women only made up about 10% of construction industry workers? While there are various reasons for this enormous gap between male and female employees, Trimble shows that DEI (Diversity, Equality and Inclusion) is not just a buzzword, 23% of our leadership positions are currently held by women.

For the MEP division, we sat down with our ‘leading ladies’ to talk about what Women’s Day means to them. 


Annalisa Dessi, Director Product Marketing

Annalisa has only been with Trimble for 1,5 years, but has already managed to climb through the ranks to Director Product Marketing. 

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate Women’s Day? 

I grew up in a very androcentric culture, where Women’s Day was that one day of the year when women were “allowed” to get together without any men around. 

Growing up and realising the challenges I had to face of being a woman in such a culture, I quickly noticed Women’s Day is needed at least as that one day to create awareness on gender equality and celebrate the achievements of women across the globe. 

So, here are some of the reasons why I celebrate Women’s Day every day: 

  • The first Women’s Day took place in the US in 1909, originally to demand voting rights for women. It still took over 100 years before women were allowed to vote in every country that has elections (only in 2015, a mere 7 years ago). This shows us that there’s still a lot to do and many more basic rights to be achieved. 

  • In the workplace, women remain underrepresented at every level, especially in senior management positions; women earn less than their male counterparts; maternity discrimination and the fact that women experience greater interference and face limitations in their work-life because of their attributed role as caregivers. 

  • Sexual harassment and violence against women is still considered “normal” as proven by the practice of victim-blaming and victim-shaming, and the victim often refrains from speaking up because of fearing the consequences. This really speaks for itself, and I don’t have anything else to add. 

  • Gender stereotypes: Unfortunately, women - and men! - are still expected to dress, behave, and present themselves in specific ways. Personally, I lost count of how many times I’ve been defined as too strong, too independent, too direct, or not enough: feminine, polite, nurturing. I remind myself every day of the importance of being unique, diverse, myself, despite my gender, to overcome the preconceptions of being a woman. 

Obviously, this list could be much more extensive, these are just some of the things that need to be kept in mind and brought to the understanding of people.

On a more personal level: My sister and me were raised by parents with the perfect example of gender equality. My mother was the breadwinner and my father the caregiver. They belong to a generation where they got judged for their choices on how to raise us, however, this didn’t stop them from being themselves and from supporting my sister and me in everything. It was actually my father - much more than my mother - who encouraged us to dream big. 

My wish is for every girl and woman to be surrounded by people that celebrate their value and encourage them to thrive and bloom into whatever their dreams are, every day, not just on Women’s Day. 

Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?

Diversity is so much more than just putting people from different backgrounds together. If I look at my identity, there are so many things that make me who I am: I’m a woman, I’m Italian, but also Sardinian, I’m an older millennial, I grew up as part of the working-class, I lived in 8 different countries, I have a sister and am very close to my family, I’m an LGBTQ ally, I’m a foreigner in the country where I live and so much more. 

In order for a diverse team to be successful, people need to feel included and valued. Their voices and unique contributions matter. This access to different perspectives will enable people to widen their horizons and explore new opportunities. And this, in turn, will make the team be able to thrive together. 

Why do we need more women in leadership? 

Let’s look at some facts: Reported Covid-19 deaths were lower in countries led by women than in those led by men.* When 10% more girls go to school, a country's GDP increases on average by 3%.** Increased gender diversity in the workplace also increases financial performance. 

I’ve also experienced being asked to show more ‘male’ leadership traits, even though it’s a fact that women are more likely to show certain qualities, that stereotypical male leaders often find lacking, such as self-awareness, empathy, compassion, humility, authenticity. So instead of asking women to act like male leaders, we should be encouraging men to adopt some of the more effective leadership traits more commonly found in women.

Of course, I don’t believe that one gender is better than the other. It is, however, extremely important to create and enable environments where any individual - no matter their identified gender - can be themselves, share their experiences and viewpoints. This way, diverse ways of facing challenges can be observed and opportunities created.

* Source: The Guardian.  

**According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development


Hilke Zijlstra, Senior Marketing Communications Manager

Hilke has been with Trimble since 2015, thus being one of our longest-standing member, having started out in technical positions before becoming Senior Growth Marketing Manager EMEA. 

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?

I would not call it barriers, but I have regularly experienced that the fact that I am a woman is emphasized in situations where - in my opinion- it doesn’t matter at all. 

I was already used to that from my mechanical engineering studies where I was always the only female in project groups. Sometimes “funny” comments were made about me only being good enough to get coffee. My strategy was to just ignore those comments. I never made a big deal out of it. 

At work, I also got questions after returning from maternity leave that I'm sure my husband would never get. I don’t see it as an issue or as people judging me, but as educating people who are apparently not used to the fact that it’s normal to combine motherhood and a career.

How can we encourage more women to pursue a career in STEM/Construction?

This does concern me; not only to get more diversity, but also simply because we are dealing with shortages and skills gaps within our industry. 

It is often suggested that girls simply are not interested in STEM topics. When I see my daughters playing with Legos, I find that hard to believe. In any case, I think it is good to introduce children to STEM subjects at a young age. To make them curious, sustain interest, and show them the various possibilities in this career field. That’s why it is so important for girls and women to have role models, not only to tell them what is possible, but to actually show them. 

What are some ways Trimble supports you in your professional development as a woman?

As a woman, I get the same opportunities as men at Trimble. We do have special Employee Resource Networks for women that provide all kinds of resources such as toolkits, mentoring, events, etc. Also, our CEO and the GM of our division have set goals to increase the percentage of women managers. And last but not least, I have many wonderful female co-workers who truly support each other!


Kari Nelson, Director Marketing Communications

Kari is our newest addition to the team. She joined Trimble in 2021 and brings many years of knowledge and experience in all things Marketing and Communications.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

“Leaders never tire of repeating themselves.”

Communication and alignment are critical to business and program success. It takes time (sometimes years) to gain momentum. Make it easy for people to follow you by being clear, compelling, concrete, and complete–all the time.

How do you succeed in a male dominated environment?

Become and remain confident by listening.

I become confident in myself, my knowledge, and my approach first and foremost. These efforts include research, reaching out to others 1-on-1, and being open to feedback.

Then I project confidence, because I know I’ve likely done more on a particular program than anyone else. Again, I ask questions, seek feedback, and enable others to contribute. My attitude is that they are helping solve a business problem and not attacking me personally.

Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?

Diversity helps a team, a business unit and an organization listen, understand, and adapt faster because there are more varied experiences and perspectives brought to the table.

For example, during my MBA program, with over 30% international students, I learned first-hand the impact of a natural disaster in Japan and an opening to capitalism in China. From people, not just news stories. It makes the situation come to life and fosters empathy.


Karolina Rogoza, Global Content Marketing Manager

Karolina joined Trimble in 2017 and successfully leads the global Content Marketing Team. 

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate Women’s Day?

I believe it is important to have a day to remember the political, cultural, social, and economic achievements of women throughout history. A day to celebrate what womanhood stands for and how it impacts our society. Celebrating the day, to me personally, means to remember the women in my life that shaped me.
Exactly six years ago on March 8th, 2016, my grandmother, a strong woman and my role model, passed away. Her battle was one similar to so many battles women had to and are still fighting for today. Let’s take this day to remember, grieve and celebrate together with both, men and women alike. 

Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?

Diversity is a crucial aspect of our lives. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to change the course of our thoughts and perspectives, be tolerant, respectful, and understanding towards different social and ethnic backgrounds, genders, etc. 

“People fear what they don’t understand”. In order to understand each other, we need to learn from each other. In order to learn from each other, we need to interact with each other. One advantage of a diverse workplace is that it brings a lot of different mindsets and perspectives together. This, while posing challenges, also effectively supports personal and professional growth. 

What are some ways Trimble supports you in your professional development as a woman?

Trimble operates in rather male-dominated industries such as Construction and Transportation, nevertheless I feel very supported in my career growth. Our CEO Rob Painter not only understands the importance of diversity in the workplace, but also made it one key objective to support women in leadership roles within the company. I am confident that this will open doors for young women to follow in the footsteps of other female leaders, especially in male-dominated industries.


About the Author

Elisabeth-Anne Toder is a content MarCom specialist for EMEA at Trimble where her main focus is to provide MEP engineers with the right information for their BIM workflow optimisation. Additionally, Elisabeth is responsible for our social media channels.

Profile Photo of Elisabeth Toder