International Women’s Day – Why Balance is Better

International Women’s Day is a call-to-action for gender equality across the globe. The focus for this year is #balanceforbetter

Celebrated annually, International Women’s Day (IWD) stands as a call-to-action for gender equality across the globe. The focus for this year is #balanceforbetter, and why gender balance in the workplace is important for a healthy environment.

With this in mind, six women and men, who work in the male-dominated world of technology, share their thoughts and advice on why it’s important that women should consider a job in this industry, and not be put off by the stereotype that surrounds it. 

Banish the stereotypes

Unfortunately, technology has become a very male dominated industry. However, it’s important that this doesn’t scare women off when considering a job. 

“Striving for a balanced workforce not only fosters gender equality, but it makes good business sense,” believes Krishna Subramanian, Founder, President and COO at Komprise.

“Half our population is female, more than half of college students are female, so why should we not hire more of these talented individuals into the workplace? Not hiring women makes a business less competitive, because they are not tapping into a vital segment of the talent stream.

Hire the best person

It’s essential to focus on hiring the best person for the job regardless of their gender – we have women in key roles across our company. For example, our first engineering hire was a women, and we have women in key leadership roles across engineering, marketing and sales/channels.”  

This idea is something that Hyve Managed Hosting’s Content Manager Lucie Sadler agrees with. “Age-old stereotypes about the industry do not reflect the fast-paced, progressive nature of technology, and this needs to change,” Sadler comments.

“This year’s theme of #balanceforbetter reinforces the need for diversity in our industry. IT companies must strive to be fully inclusive, and this change must come from within. Diverse teams work better, bring different perspectives to the table and make employees challenge their thinking. And that’s a really good thing.

“Women make up 50% of the UK workforce, but less than 15% in STEM jobs,” she continues. “Projects that encourage women into STEM careers, coding workshops such as Codebar and Girls Who Code and mentoring programmes are all fantastic initiatives that nurture women into pursuing careers in technology.”

Liz Matthews, Head of Community and Education, Mango Solutions also adds that “Across the data profession, women make up only 26% of the workforce. But, considering that just 12.8% of the overall STEM workforce are women, the data and analytics sector is doing better than others, and we believe that there has never been a more exciting time to build a career in data science and analytics.

“Companies are investing in data-driven digital transformation more than ever before and the diversity of roles available in advanced analytics and data science is certainly increasing. Of all the individuals we trained in 2018, women represented 37%, up 10% from the previous year.”

A diverse workplace is a balanced workplace

Venturing into the world of technology can seem like a daunting business, but this shouldn’t be something that keeps women back. 

“My advice to anyone interested in a career in technology is to maintain a learning mindset,” Michelle Stonebank, Director of Channel Sales and Alliances at Commvault comments.

Michelle adds: “The IT industry is always evolving, and change is rapid. Consequently, the knowledge and skills you already have will always need to evolve and grow to keep pace with that change. Be open, be curious and continue to learn.

“It can be daunting when starting out and often you will feel the need to prove yourself. Be confident in your own abilities and take new opportunities and challenges as they present themselves without overthinking them and letting self-doubt creep in. Often it is these situations where you are entering previously unchartered waters that will help you grow and learn the most.

“Finally make your voice heard; it is the diversity and collision of opinions, thoughts and ideas that drive innovation, not just in the tech field but in business in general.”

The need for a culture shift

This is advice that Caroline Seymour, VP of Product Marketing at Zerto also backs. “While companies have become more sensitive to the gender gap in the industry over time, there is still so much more to be done to change the industry’s culture to close this gap and encourage more women into high tech careers,” she states.

“I believe that, fundamentally, this culture shift needs to start in school – we need to do more to mentor girls and encourage them to study STEM subjects.

“I have been in high tech for many years now and, while it is still a predominantly male-dominated industry, there is huge opportunity here for women, especially within the software, cybersecurity, cloud, and AI sectors. 

“I have, and continue to, enjoy working in high tech – it is fast paced, never gets boring, and I love seeing how the technology changes – it keeps me on my toes! You have to be strong, and not easily intimidated to overcome bias that you might face, but that’s all part of learning, and you keep at it.”

Caroline continues: “Perseverance is important. And make sure you ask for what you deserve, I think women undersell themselves and so often that gets reflected in pay…be confident, believe in yourself and your work, and others will too.”  

And it’s not just women who are championing for women to think about technology. Bob Davies, CMO at Plutora is also an advocate for women wanting to get into the industry.

“I’ve never understood why men wouldn’t support gender equality in the workplace, especially since some of the women I’ve worked with are the most influential and powerful leaders I’ve known,” he believes.

“That being said, for me, the goal is to have an organisation filled with smart, creative, energetic and self-motivated individuals, regardless of their gender. A business needs a mix of different perspectives, and this is improved through a healthy mix of both men and women.

“Differences in the workplace can be a really good thing – the capabilities of people don’t vary because of their gender, but because of who they are. I believe the goal for any business should be to get people to understand that diversity is critical to their success; you will be far more successful if you operate under the notion that differences are powerful.”

As it stands, women are still under-represented when it comes to the tech industry. However, the more awareness that surrounds it means that this could change. This International Women’s Day, it’s time to take a step back and think about how we can redress the balance for women in technology.

>See also: 7 entrepreneurs leading the way for women in technology

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