As part of South Africa’s Women’s Month, Clarion Gaming continues to advance the role of women in the industry across the region and internationally with vital insights from some of the industry’s key female figures ahead of this year’s ICE Africa, which takes place on 24 and 25 October at the Sandton Convention Centre, South Africa.
Exploring the challenges facing women in the industry, Siddiqa Samsoodien, CS Supervisor at Sportingbet South Africa, explained: “As a young woman, I have personally faced many challenges in the workplace environment and these challenges grew increasingly difficult once I became a mother. Being in a sports environment, a lot of men automatically assume that they know more than you. ‘Who scored the first goal in the game?’, ‘What is the meaning of handicap?’, men ask women these questions all the time in the hope that they will have the opportunity to correct us as we will probably, in their opinion, get it wrong. This is wrong!
“In the face of this, our response has to be with confidence, as we know that our understanding is always on guard,” she continued. “We make it our mission to strive and prove that we are worthy of being part of the gaming industry as women. On more than one occasion once I open my mouth and discuss the transfer window or Chelsea’s chances of winning the league, men will look at me with shock – surprise!”
Commenting on the path to her current role at Sportingbet, one of Africa’s fastest growing online sportsbetting platforms, Siddiqa said: “It has been a constant challenge to earn respect from men and especially male customers – there is a feeling of having to prove yourself in order to be respected in your position. It should be known that I would not be in the position I am in if I didn’t not only know the material but also have a passion for it. Most times, we as women have to deal with the bias and discrimination on a daily basis and we have to do it while smiling.
“It is unfair, but I have learnt how to handle this and learnt I don’t need to be able to throw some banter around the office to be taken seriously – it does help though. The best advice I could give myself in the past is to let your work do the talking. I know who I am and what I am capable of and this is a lesson I hope to teach my female colleagues and daughter one day. I am essentially very lucky to be a young professional in this day and age and, more importantly, I am lucky to have supporting male colleagues who not only believe in me but also invest in me. Having a support system that encourages your growth and listens to your ideas makes the world of difference for women in the working world.”
Discussing the day-to-day challenges within the industry, she stated: “Sometimes, I still sit back when I have an idea and think to myself, ‘is this going to add value’? I think this is one my biggest challenges and something that I personally try to overcome on a daily basis. Yes, I have worked with men who have undermined me in the past, but I am now working with, and surrounded by, great male and female colleagues and, even though it’s a slow personal development, there is improvement. A woman and her self-doubt kill more dreams than men ever could.”
She continued: “As women, we need to cut the self-doubt in half and double the confidence, as it plays a big role in success. Everyone has to earn credibility, but, realistically, it is much tougher for women. Luckily, we know how to work hard and look good doing it. We practically have to put in twice the amount of effort to get the same amount of acknowledgement from our male co-workers. Unfortunately, this seems to be the all-round reality, but it is important to look at a challenge and use it as your motivation to grow. As women and mothers, we have to face a great deal of challenges and, as exhausting as it can be, it is good, because this helps build character. It promotes personal and professional development. We as women need to realize that we have so much to offer and times aren’t just changing, they have changed. Even though the bias is still there, and will probably always be, the way we deal with it is so important. I am very fond of the saying ‘you are your own worst enemy’ – we as women are already facing so many challenges, let’s not add self-doubt to that.”
Siddiqa concluded: “My advice to aspiring young professionals and especially young females in a mostly male dominated industry is to NOT GIVE UP. Always stay true to yourself. Work hard and always put your best foot forward. Even when you are being undermined or doubted, it is important to not let the opinions and predisposed thoughts of others hinder you from doing, and being, the best. Set goals for yourself and do not let anyone get in the way of you achieving them. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share your opinions. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’.”