Tennessee Watt (MSc Management 2018) is a brand and product marketer, technologist and social justice advocate. Currently she is a Marketing Manager Brand & Reputation at Google, and previously held roles as a Digital Communications Associate at Purpose Union. At Imperial she specialised in digital innovation and stays active in the Imperial alumni community as a member of the Imperial College Business School Alumni Advisory Board.
What does Break the Bias mean to you?
To me, break the bias means challenging stereotypes against women. These stereotypes can make you feel personally underestimated or that need to prove a point. It is difficult to have the courage to challenge these, but looking at the bigger picture, if they are not challenged, it may result in missed opportunities for women in the future. Breaking the bias is getting over that interpersonal experience and making it a bigger cause and fighting for the rights of all women.
How have you faced bias in the workplace?
In the past I had a difficult work situation. It was a challenge to be in that environment as a woman specifically as I was underestimated quite a lot and felt a lot of microaggressions. Even though I had just graduated with a business degree, people in my team would ask if I could handle data, or assumed I wasn’t interested in a specific project on video games because I was a woman. There’s a stereotype that girls and women are not as quantitative and are more the emotional and creative. It was very difficult to navigate.
My role at Google is focused on Diversity and Inclusion so I feel like the experiences I went through, were almost a pathway to inclusion work. Working in inclusion has been so cathartic, and it has allowed me to make sense of a lot of the experiences I have been through. It feels positive for me to help companies create cultures that would stop these experiences from happening to someone else.
No company is perfect when it comes to EDI, it’s more of an upwards trend towards inclusivity. I am more empowered to challenge this behaviour now because of the experiences I’ve had. I’ve had a few female and male mentors that have helped me navigate these problems. I feel it’s my role to contribute to fostering inclusivity within the environments and spaces that I occupy for my career.
How has Imperial equipped you with tools to deal with gender bias?
I had a negotiation class whilst studying my Masters at Imperial and that has really helped me. Years after I graduated, it’s provided tools and has reminded me the importance of negotiation.
Imperial has provided me with speaking opportunities for students and to contribute to editorial content. Imperial has just put me forward for the Management Today 35 under 35 Women in Business Award which has really made me feel confident and inspired in my career.