International Women’s Day is an important moment to reflect on the contributions of women to the tech industry and to acknowledge the persistent gender gap in the field. Women continue to be underrepresented in technology, facing barriers such as sexism, bias, and unequal access to education and opportunities. International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about these issues and to celebrate the achievements of women who have overcome them.
It is a reminder that diversity and inclusion are crucial for innovation and progress in technology and that we must work together to create a more equitable and welcoming environment for all genders in the field. By supporting and empowering women in technology, we can build a brighter and more inclusive future for all.
Below is commentary from women leaders in the field addressing IWD and Women’s History Month.
Sylvia Zachary, cybersecurity & software director – secure communications (SCOM), Cubic Mission & Performance Solutions
“Today, and every day, I recognize each woman fighting to break glass ceilings and other barriers. I celebrate diversity, representation, and inclusion as the standing embodiments of a positive and compassionate work culture. Going forward, I want women to be more open to opportunities and to be bold with their careers. By pursuing what matters to you, women watching your actions will be inspired to relentlessly pursue their dreams and goals. While there is still a lot of work to be done for real equality and diversity in the workplace, this Women’s History Month, I truly hope all women will take a moment to come together to take the steps necessary towards fostering these support ecosystems, safe spaces and their own individual strengths that make them formidable.”
Tanja Omeragic, director, technical sales – Cybersecurity at ConnectWise
“I have had my share of career challenges: Being overlooked for the opportunity to further my career in cyber while I was pregnant, people wrongly assuming I’m in an administrative role, and having others being given the credit for my hard work. I feel lucky to now work for a manager and company who take my voice seriously.
Tech remains a male dominated industry. These barriers won’t ever disappear, but we can minimize them as more female leaders break the glass ceiling, inspiring others to do the same. Organizations can support this aim by increasing awareness of the possibilities for women in tech, and by encouraging its leaders to mentor other women in the workplace. Having someone invest in your career and growth can make the world of difference.
Finally, my advice to other women: Be stubborn, be bossy, and don’t give up. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. As former Meta COO, Sheryl Sandberg, said: “I want every little girl who’s told she’s bossy to be told instead that she has leadership skills. This International Women’s Day, we need to reframe the narrative.”
Erin Dertouzos, chief people officer at StrongDM
“In honor of International Women’s Day, I want to encourage company leaders who are looking to improve gender diversity to start with their hiring processes. The way a job description is written or having a requirement for a specific degree can result in the exclusion of certain applicants. In fact, I have encouraged recruiters to push hiring managers to think about whether or not degrees are even required for certain roles. Several studies indicate that women may be hesitant to apply for jobs if they feel they do not meet every single qualification, creating an obstacle to attracting more female talent to your team.
Companies should consider how women experience the interview process as well. Research has shown that people are more inclined to join teams where they see themselves reflected. If a female candidate is interviewed exclusively by men, they may not feel entirely at ease in that setting, resulting in potentially losing out on exceptional talent due to the recruiting process not being designed with them in mind.
By looking at every facet of the hiring experience, company leaders can create more space for underrepresented talent which will benefit the organization in the long run.”
Caroline Seymour, VP of product marketing, Zerto, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
“International Women’s Day is an opportunity to both recognize the progress that’s been made in the women’s movement and to look forward to the work we still have to do. This year’s theme, #EmbraceEquity, in particular reminds us of the importance of considering the unique needs of different women. Equity means more than just equality: instead of providing all groups with the exact same resources, it’s about recognizing the unique circumstances of each individual and providing them with enough resources to reach an equal outcome and achieve their full potential.
As a long-time professional working in the technology field, I’m well aware of the underrepresentation of women in the industry. While people are much more aware of the gender gap than they have been in the past, a divide still remains which needs to be overcome. The roots of the issue start before women enter the workforce. As they’re growing up, girls can be subjected to biases (both conscious and unconscious) early on in their schooling and are often actively discouraged from pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math. We need to do far more. Mentoring girls and encouraging them to pursue STEM coursework into higher education is a start. Opportunities such as classes and scholarships that cater to girls interested in the field are also important. It’s vital to support young women early in their life so they have the background, support, and confidence to overcome gender biases in STEM.
Further down the road, companies can also take action to achieve gender equity. They can start by using job descriptions which are gender neutral, gathering diverse candidates for interviews, and making sure there are women present on the interviewing team. Additionally, there should be regular pay equity reviews, mentorship and advancement opportunities for different groups, and regular evaluation of the hiring and promotion process to spot any potential biases. The lack of gender diversity in tech is an issue we all need to think about and be active in combating, not only on International Women’s Day but every day.”
Julie Giannini, chief customer officer at Egnyte
“International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the progress that we have made and highlight what more we can do, especially in the tech industry. As we continue to strive for equality, it helps to remember that when various points of view come together, the result is greater output and innovation. Representation and diverse perspectives are key to successfully selling a product and supporting a customer.
One of my philosophies toward creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce is paying it forward. Just as a longtime friend and former colleague helped me over the course of my tech career, I’m currently mentoring several young women, including one interested in pursuing a career in STEM. Everyone deserves a seat at the table; this begins at an early age and is fostered through helping others.
In addition to diversity in technology, I am delighted to see the recent uptick in women represented in professional sports, from referees to coaches. Whether on the playing field or in the boardroom, we can all win by embracing equity. We all grow stronger when we embrace diversity and grow together.”
Samantha Humphries, head of security strategy EMEA, Exabeam
“In 2023, it’s no secret that there are still notable barriers for women looking to enter or stay in the tech space.
For those looking to enter the sector, we are still struggling with a lack of balance when it comes to role models. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund once said, “You can’t be what you can’t see” and that still very much stands. There is still so much more that needs to be done to highlight and uplift women in the technology industry – if a company wants diversity, they have to show it and actively strive for it, and when they do so it pays dividends.
Even when women do break into this male-dominated industry, they often find that the technology sector is still fundamentally designed for men. It’s not enough to simply get women in the door, there needs to be resources and support in place that keep them there. For example, employee support groups, mentorship programs, initiatives such as menstrual and menopause policies, comprehensive medical insurance – the list goes on! Each business is different, and some of these may not be applicable to all, but the bottom line is that organizations need to adapt their policies to their people. We can’t simply keep copying and pasting the same HR policies that have been in place for decades; it’s time to adapt.”
Nicola Kinsella, SVP of global marketing at Fluent Commerce
“#EmbraceEquality, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, calls on organizations to take actionable steps towards gender equality. Creating a level playing field for all genders is not just a moral imperative but also a business imperative.
This year, Fluent Commerce has signed the MACH Manifesto for gender equality, a document developed by over 100 women in tech and a select few male allies. By signing this manifesto, we are committing to important issues such as equal pay, equality in hiring, combating unconscious bias and promoting a culture of respect and diversity. We also recognize the importance of representation in leadership and the value of allies and mentorship.
Embracing equality involves action. So, look for tangible ways to involve your company in the fight to advance equal opportunities for all to celebrate this year’s #InternationalWomensDay.”
Arti Raman, founder and CEO, Titaniam
“As women, we must balance maintaining our growth and achievement and influencing the next generation of female entrepreneurs to join us. Building confidence in young women begins with shamelessly taking pride in our accomplishments. As over 60% of women fear punishment for their drive and ambition in the workplace, we owe them a network of support that nurtures their call to succeed. We can create more leaders by sharing our success stories, lifting women up, and creating growth opportunities.
As a minority entrepreneur in technology, I see empty spaces at the table that we should all be filling with confidence and bravery. We must build trust, take the space we have earned without guilt and collaborate with our peers to fill more seats. Relationships are fundamental to leadership opportunities, and we owe the next generation the chance to take the reins and build equity in entrepreneurship. It is time to celebrate achievements and remind all girls and women that they can do great things.”
Erica Cronan, global marketing manager, Datadobi
“Although the message of International Women’s Day is not restricted to just one day of the year, the chosen subject for this year urges us to think explicitly about eliminating biases. The impression of what women can and cannot do is a major source of hardship for many.
We’ve come a long way in eradicating some of the stereotypes about women in technology, but we still have a ways to go. Encouraging women and allies of women worldwide to demonstrate their support in a variety of ways is crucial to breaking barriers. Look inside yourself to see what beliefs you might be holding that are still contributing to the issues that women encounter in the workplace.
In the same way, I urge women in tech to be open to mentoring new team members. We can achieve gender equity and a more balanced workplace by having strong female role models in the field.
I am grateful to be a part of an organizational culture that supports diversity and encourages women to express their creativity and develop new skills. The leaders and organizations we as women must select must promote equality.”
Francesca Corsini, US regional sales manager, Datadobi
“I am very fortunate to have strong female role models and to work for a company that values growth, support, and opportunity for everyone, equally. Their mentorship, guidance, and support helped me establish a career in tech. Hard work and dedication should not go unrecognised regardless of social, economic, racial, and religious differences and choices.
Innovation and technological breakthroughs are driven by our unique ideas, differences, and perspectives. It is our responsibility to continue building a world that fosters equal opportunity and brings a diverse set of minds to the table.”
Juleen Konkel, general counsel, Imply
“Although we only celebrate it one day out of the year, the spirit of International Women’s Day is something we should take with us and remember every single day. That spirit of creating a world where we see and recognize the contributions of women on this planet.
It’s especially important that the spirit of International Women’s Day carries over into the business world. Businesses thrive on innovation and creative ideas, and it’s proven that the best way to fuel innovation is to create a workplace that is diverse and inclusive. Inviting women to a seat at the table and to participate will challenge each other to work harder and think critically and more broadly — ultimately resulting in new opportunities and more success. Conversely, teams who are not mindful of this are more likely to become complacent and stagnant, unable to think outside an ever shrinking box.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme of #EmbraceEquity is very fitting as it’s a time for businesses to look at the conversations they are having about the future and encourage those voices not often heard. Not only will it have positive effects on their bottom line, but it will also have positive impacts on their communities and the world for years to come.”
Jennette Skaggs, senior field enablement manager, Progress for Her Co-Leader
“An internal support network, employee resource groups (ERGs), build the framework for continuous improvement throughout the company. My involvement with Progress for Her, Progress’s ERG dedicated to women’s empowerment, has broadened my global understanding of women’s issues. From current events to the evergreen topic of family leave, to the challenging topics of harassment in the workplace, Progress for Her has given employees a space to discuss, learn and take personal action. By encouraging discussion of complex issues, inviting women plus adding our allies to the conversation, we show that the group’s leadership and colleagues are invested in that professional, and sometimes personal, leadership-building growth. Sharing our stories empowers all toward a more equitable environment.”
Shirley Knowles, chief inclusion and diversity officer, Progress
Every year, on International Women’s Day, we see organisations across the world turn their attention to what they can do to support the women in their company. It’s a fantastic opportunity for businesses to reflect and consider what they could be doing better. However, supporting women must not be limited to this day alone. With women making up only 19% of the technology workforce, it’s clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. As such, organisations must ensure that they are implementing practical initiatives year round that will make a real difference. Talk is not enough.
Progress has several initiatives designed to have a real impact. For example, there is a company-wide Employee Resource Group (ERG) – ‘Progress for Her’, which provides leadership and networking opportunities to allow women to build their professional networks. In addition, we aim to increase the number of women in the industry by supporting those who want to pursue education in STEM. The Women in STEM scholarship series was launched in 2019 with the founding of the “Progress Mary Székely Scholarship for Women in STEM” in the US, a $10,000 four-year renewable scholarship for a Massachusetts woman. The initiative has continued to expand, and in 2021 we introduced the Akanksha Scholarship for Women in STEM in India. It is a $2,000 four‐year renewable scholarship to cover tuition, fees and educational expenses for women pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer science, computer information systems, software engineering and/or IT. I would encourage every organisation to consider what they can do to close the gender gap in STEM, and take action.
Terrie Butcher, director, technical support, Progress for Her Co-Leader
“In today’s work environment, being heard is not just about providing your insights or experience. It’s about building your own confidence to believe that what you have to say matters. Having an internal support network, like an employee resource group that you can trust and that empowers you to speak freely and be your authentic self, provides a few building blocks to not only increase your confidence, but it gives you a safety net.”
Gal Helemski, co-founder, CTO/CPO, PlainID
“On International Women’s Day, we strive to “break the prejudice” that still exists. The goal is to recognize the success and what women – in all professions including technology – bring to the table. Organizations must make a concerted effort to eliminate discrepancies and create a friendly atmosphere for people from diverse backgrounds. Only 28% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs are held by women, and men outnumber women in most STEM undergraduate majors. In several upcoming professions with the greatest pay and fastest job growth, there continue to be disproportionately large gender inequalities. Even though significant progress has been made, particularly in the technology industry, women continue to experience lower pay, fewer promotions, and less access to leadership positions.
It is well known that varied viewpoints foster better invention, which is at the heart of the technology industry. When team members exhibit the same behaviors and appearance, end users may not discover distinctive or superior solutions if team members share similar backgrounds and experiences. The encouragement of women to study STEM at a young age provides a variety of perspectives that can foster creative solutions and attract a wide range of clients.
Everyone at the company, regardless of gender identity, should work to create a space where individuals can express their worries and be heard. Senior management and executives should pay more attention to employees’ career paths to understand who they are and their goals for advancement within the company. Ultimately, I want all girls and young women to understand their infinite value and potential. No matter who or what is proving to be a barrier, I advise always asking for more. “Why can’t it be me, too?” you might ask.”
The post Celebrating Women In The Technology Industry appeared first on Industry Today.