The kaupapa (values, principles and plans) behind her company is impressive – they sustainably catch kaimoana (seafood) to order by free diving, providing top-quality product exclusively for the people of Aotearoa while also aiming to protect the environment and preserve shellfish stocks.
Claire has grown a successful business in a very ethical and sustainable manner and she’s done this within the typically male-dominated fishing and seafood industry. I was interested to find out what her experience has been, working in an industry that wasn’t designed for her.
Not long after we met, she told me how proud she is of what she’s doing - but that she also feels a strong sense of needing to prove herself in order to be accepted by the wider industry.
I can relate - I’ve felt that way too. Banking, like the fishing and seafood industry, was until recently dominated by men - I know because I was often the only woman in the room.
Where do we belong?
While travelling around the country meeting amazing women like Claire, I’ve been struck by how common it is to find them grappling with feelings of not belonging and how those feelings impact the way we, as women, show up.
When you feel like you don’t belong, it’s natural to want to hide or change yourself - to fit in. A sense of belonging nurtures confidence and a lack of that feeling fosters self-doubt.
Everyone has different ways of coping with that pressure. My way was to project a far more assertive version of myself than I was actually feeling – “fake it till you make it”.
For others, finding their voice can be much harder. The combined pressures of showing up, using your voice, keeping the right tone in a group you don’t feel a part of - and doing it by yourself - can be intense.
I’ve seen women paralysed with fear, unable to handle the challenge that comes with having their ideas scrutinised.
Far too often, we consider feelings of fraud, or a fear of failure, as personal weaknesses – but they are not. We need to reframe our thinking and be kind and supportive to one another while we’re doing it – like the generation coming through, who can teach us plenty about the value of inclusivity.
Imagine if we celebrated effort in the same way we now celebrate achievement? Would the people we consider to be at the top of their chosen fields still be the most admired?