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In our recent Championing Women Leaders Series, we took a look into a gender disparity in female versus male business leaders. To discuss the challenges faced by women leaders and the benefits women can bring to leadership roles we were joined by several female CEOs. Including Jess Tucker, Managing Director of Social Allies, a successful and fast-growing social media agency.
Q) Hi Jess, tell us a little bit about yourself and your company
"Hi, my name is Jess Tucker, I’m the Managing Director of Social Allies which is a social media agency based in the North East. We have a team of seven and are growing really quick. We offer everything from animation, graphics to overall social media strategy.”
Q) Do you think there is gender disparity in the tech sector?
“So, I do think that there is a gender disparity in our sector. I think it’s easy to think that work is done for women but time and time again there are examples of inequality. Even though the pay gap is being slowly closed there are examples in business generally that segment men and women, and I think this is because it’s been embedded in the business culture for so long, but it is slowly changing.”
Q) What challenges have you faced as a result of your gender?
“I have struggled with a couple of obstacles, I got pregnant in my first year of owning the company and with that there were a couple of instances that weren’t pleasant which made me hide my pregnancy. When I was talking to a potential client, they said a few comments which made me feel like I couldn’t tell anyone I was pregnant. I thought that people might feel different about me, being a woman in business and the company, so I hid my pregnancy. A couple of my friends in business weren’t happy that I didn’t tell them but when I explained why they completely understood.
Another instance was when I was starting Social Allies, a couple of people wanted me to work for them and not with them. But luckily I spoke to two amazing investors who completely support women in business and were completely behind me all the way and they made Social Allies happen.
I always had dreams of owning my business as I’m really lucky to have those strong female family members around me who are women in business who I’ve always looked up to and a strong industry network. And at Teesside many of which, brilliant men, and my clients especially, who have helped me be the person I am today and have supported me.”
Q) How do you think we can encourage more female leaders as a society?
“I think we should all keep talking. We’re at an age where there are more and more female roles but still aren’t enough. The more successful female business leaders the betters, especially women in tech.”
Q) What advice would you give to other female CEOs and aspiring CEOs?
“My advice would be to be bold, don’t be afraid, take risks, use your voice and speak up. Nobody ever got anywhere by being silent and ‘shy birds get nothing’!”
Thanks again to Jess for participating in our Championing Women Leaders Series and offering such an honest and insightful account of her experiences setting up a business within the technology sector. To gain more insight and inspiration from other progressive leaders like Jess, read our blog ‘How We Can Champion Women Leaders’.