The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is to #pushforparity, which seems a particularly relevant message for the tech industry.
Tech, almost more than any other field, struggles with gender inclusivity – the field is dominated by men in both numbers and executives.
Business Leader Magazine has received comments from senior leaders from within the tech sector on #IWD2018.
Tara O’Sullivan, CCO, Skillsoft
“The gender pay gap needs to be addressed, and I believe it’s going to have to be addressed in a legal manner. Take Iceland for instance, which has passed a law making it the employer’s responsibility to prove that employees are being paid equally. That’s what’s needed, because culturally – particularly in the UK and Ireland – we are notoriously bad at talking about our salaries.
“Enshrining this in law would force us to deal with the consequences of equal pay. I expect in the future we will see some high-profile cases of people suing for back pay as a result of being underpaid. On the other side, women need to improve negotiation of their salaries. Often, when men are offered a job there will be a back and forth on pay, holiday and other benefits.
“Women tend to simply accept offers, because of absurd notions about being too pushy and outspoken. Employers will value a demonstration of your negotiation skills; in many job roles – from sales to marketing and engineering –negotiation is very important. It’s not about being more like a man, but showing your worth as a woman.”
Swati Chopra, director of global support services and customer success, Bitglass
“As it stands today everyone can promote women in STEM to create a large female workforce in technology and science. We need to motivate our sisters, daughters and wives to gain higher education and aspire for executive roles! Companies who aspire to gender parity and equality need to incorporate 3 R’s in their corporate blueprint: respect, role equality and remuneration for women.
“When it comes to respect, women who ask for a raise or a promotion may be perceived as bossy or aggressive while their male counterparts are perceived as ambitious and career focused. Firms must give equal respect to women and support them when they aim high.
“Looking at role equality, it is time to promote an equal gender pool of prospective candidates for every promotion. And when it comes to remuneration, organizations should do annual audits to make sure men and women are paid equally in the same roles and for similar skills.
“At the end of the day, companies should hire women in the same ratio as men so there is more diversity and gender parity within the organization. Every team or organisation should have a healthy mix of men and women. Salary and promotion criteria should be the same for men and women, and equal opportunity promotions should exist to promote from within a diverse pool of prospective candidates.”
Marianne Calder, VP, EMEA, Puppet
“2018 has already seen a brighter light being shone on issues surrounding women and inequalities in the workplace. While huge progress has been made, there is still a lot more to be done to close the gender gap. Organisations, like Puppet, work hard to focus on building an environment where diversity and inclusiveness thrives and is encouraged.
“Small changes, from ensuring a diverse pipeline for recruitment to create a diverse team to then implementing a mentoring programme to support employees through every step of their career progression, can make a big difference in creating a balanced talent pipeline.
“It is time we stopped just talking about the gender gap and instead focused on what can be, and is being, done to close it.
“By achieving this, organisations will ultimately be the ones that benefit. The tech sector is very competitive and every company wants to bring in the best talent. To do this most effectively you have to assess 100% of talent out there, not just 50% of it – and this is something we pride ourselves on at Puppet.”
Yumi Nishiyama, Director of Global Services, Exabeam
“The paths that lead to a career in tech are just as diverse as the women who traverse them. My own path was set in motion by, well, failure. I decided to pursue my passion of being a lawyer. A sports lawyer for the International Olympic Committee to be precise. At this law firm I learned that law wasn’t, in fact, something I particularly excelled at. And I never quite made it to the Olympics. But in the course of this work, I started toying around with databases and discovered that I really liked technology.
“I ended up in grad school to help women in developing countries use technology to empower themselves economically and give themselves a voice. But my course changed again thanks to a beer. My welcome beer on Day 1 of grad school made my face flush a bright red. With my red face, I headed into a meeting with my Advisor, who just happened to be a prominent Information Warfare professor who worked frequently with the Department of Defense.
“Embarrassed that I’d just had alcohol before meeting with her, I tried to gain her favor by agreeing to enroll in her Information Warfare course. Which I did. This course scared me so much I took a 180 spin and landed myself smack dab into the information security field. Cyber security just felt like home to me. I’ve been on this path ever since.”
Shantayne Augustine, Marketing Director, Fuzzy Logix
“I am proud to be a female working in the technology sector. It’s an exciting, fast-paced sector, but is sadly still very male dominated, partly due to the alarmingly low number of girls pursuing STEM subjects at college. I cannot emphasise enough to any young female starting out on their career today that they must remove any barriers – real or perceived – about the ‘difficulty’ of working in this sector.
“Sure, you have to be strong, but then we as women are just that, aren’t we?! I sincerely hope I have become something of a role model to those around me considering their career options; I cannot recommend it highly enough for a rewarding career during which you never stop learning.”