This year, the theme for International Women’s Day (8th March 2023) is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. Join us as we celebrate the innovative women in proptech working to create a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
In this interview, we’ll be discussing the topic with Angelique Matthews, Business Development Manager at Property Inspect.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you personally?
I am personally involved in charities and organisations that assist women against gender-based violence. The reason why is that many years ago I was left in a situation where I was promised a promotion if I returned back to an abusive home. Needless to say, I resigned the same day.
However, I was pregnant and my eldest son was two and a half. So, at this time in my life, I had two choices – lose eight months of progress and go for temporary work or start my own business. I decided to take ownership of my future and choices, so I moved back home and started all over again. It was hard in the beginning, but it was all so worth it.
Now I’m part of a strong team, both female and male. In our team, we get to help each other make a difference across the globe.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing women in proptech today?
Sometimes I feel like women are allowing the stereotype to own them, which is a huge challenge facing women today, especially in proptech. I do believe that in every career it takes a level of passion and dedication to thrive, not only as a woman but as an individual.
Can you share a story about a woman who has inspired you in your life or career?
My mother is the first woman to guide and continually inspire me in both my personal and professional career. I can however say that my parents make the best team and have been the reason why I am who I am today.
In South Africa, the rate of unemployment has always been high, so my mother taught me that you need to be the best you can be and look at how you can stand out by thinking and acting differently. Get out of the box, get uncomfortable, remain humble, offer to do what no one else is happy to do and keep moving forward.
What progress have you seen in terms of gender equality in your industry over the past year?
I work with an amazing group of men and women. The ladies are strong-willed and passionate about their careers.
How can we ensure that women are included in the proptech conversation?
So we can ensure women are included in the conversation, we must take the first step. Open up opportunities by showing them how it’s already being done. Just like these conversations around gender equality.
What role do others play in advancing gender equality, and how can they be better allies to women?
The strength in character starts at home. I have three boys now and I’m the queen of my home. They’ve been taught to respect each other and the women around them. They are being taught that their mom is able to do anything she puts her mind to, but at the same time they feel the rewards of helping out around the house.
They’ve also been taught independence, how to cook and clean inside and outside so that one day when they get married it’s for love and happiness.
As a young girl I was taught independence by my father on how to work on a car, do garden work and build with timber. Today, my father who is now retired gives me tips on housework. We teach our boys that all work inside and outside the home is done together fairly, regardless of the task.
These skills allow young people to move forward as individuals and allow them and their partners to balance home and work life together without stereotyping.
How can we encourage more women to pursue careers in male-dominated fields in the industry?
In South Africa, I personally feel that immense pressure is not only placed on women to achieve in historically male-dominated fields but everywhere. My advice is to start somewhere, literally any field or opportunity that presents itself or that you can make for yourself.
The next step is to decide what you want in life and then learn to balance your work life and home goals. Set goals and adjust them where necessary, but create your destiny by putting those goals into action.
In your opinion, what are some of the most effective policies or initiatives for promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality?
I would say platforms such as this article and initiatives like International Women’s Day could give some much-needed direction or inspiration to women out there.
What message do you have for young women who are just starting their careers in proptech?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, it’s the best way to learn. Don’t be afraid to converse with management. If you want to grow in your company they are the people you want to be taking advice from. Don’t be afraid to stand out. You can only make a difference if you’re willing to try different avenues.
When I started my career at 17 everyone was afraid of making coffee for the managing director, but I offered to do it. I learnt that he wanted his coffee in a specific way, but once I mastered that I had an opportunity every day to listen and learn from the top management.
Lastly, do not get caught up in gossip, keep your work environment clean and professional.
Finally, what steps can we all take on International Women’s Day and beyond to support women and advance gender equality?
I believe that we can utilise International Women’s Day to share experiences, but in order to make a real difference we need to get involved in ongoing projects and organisations throughout the year.
Share your story using #IWD23 and #EmbraceEquity on social media.