International Women’s Day: The increasing importance of women in technology
There’s so much opportunity for women to become a leading voice in tech as more companies, like ours, champion their inclusion. The time to act is now. According to Relocate while women make up half of the total workforce across Europe, only 22 per cent of the people employed in the continent’s tech industries are female. And 77 per cent of tech leaders are men. So, we know the talent is here, we just need to unlock it. That means getting more women into STEM study at school and ensuring that our HR practices operate under a meritocracy where everyone has an equal chance at leadership roles for balanced remuneration.
Why is it important now?
The truth is business benefits when more women are in the workforce. Improved communication skills, innovative ideas and boosted morale were named as the core benefits most likely to come from hiring more women in the workforce, according to a report from Nominet. And these soft skills lead to a more productive workplace and an enriched company culture; two factors that greatly improve retention. This keeps the best ideas internal and fosters an environment where innovation can grow.
According to Forbes Tech Council member & TEDx speaker, Elaine Montilla men and women see things differently and bring unique ideas to the table. This enables better problem-solving, which can boost performance at the business unit level. Imagine all the buying power you will tap into by bringing together a mix of genders with various backgrounds and ethnicities. Better yet, after your company gains a reputation of having a more diverse workforce, you also gain an extremely powerful recruiting tool at your disposal.
Spotlight on women’s voices
So, to celebrate International Women’s Day and showcase just how rewarding a career in tech can be, we spoke to two Cyber Security Analysts – Kutyie Jekada and Mary Elejofi who both work in a cybersecurity function at Nowcomm protecting clients from cyberattacks. Mary explains excitedly about her role, “I’m a cyber security Analyst. As a cyber security analyst I ensure our client organisations are kept safe from cyberattacks. Each day is an exciting new challenge, you know that the attackers are constantly studying and that means I need to do the same.
This means that there is no typical day, you must be fluid, adaptable and willing to change gears based on the what the day brings.”
And these careers exemplify one of the lesser-known paths for women in tech. But what is it really like to work in these roles? We asked them both:
Mary explained how hard it can be to have your voice heard, she “has learned to always speak out since being silent can leave you invisible.” But that’s not the case for all women in tech, it would seem. Kutyie explains, “I have been fortunate enough to not face any difficulties in my workplace as my company embraces gender diversity and takes deliberate steps to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard.”
Encouraging girls to choose tech
Getting more women into tech is a challenge which Mary explains could be aided by networking & mentorship. “There should be a platform for women where they can all learn from one another, share ideas and knowledge with women in tech,” she says. “And to celebrate the ones that have paved the way for learning opportunities.” Mary also believes that we need to help women get the skills they need so they can work towards the expertise required to excel in tech.
But it’s not all about coding, says Kutyie, “There are numerous career opportunities within the tech industry that do not require extensive programming knowledge. To encourage more girls to pursue careers in technology, there should be increased awareness programs and mentorship sessions that highlight the various paths available within the field.” And there are global movements like the Women In Tech organisation dedicated to just that.
The barriers to women in tech
Both Kutyie and Mary explained that stereotypes around performance and ability are the largest limitations to getting women into tech fields. Mary breaks it down into:
- Having no female role model or mentor
- The pressure to perform like or more than men due to consciousness of gender stereotypes
However, companies can and are instituting more programmes to ensure that assessment, hiring and pay are all balanced between the genders; however more can be done from a cultural and upskilling perspective.
The benefits of being a woman in the tech industry
Kutyie explains with pride what an honour working in tech can be, “One of the greatest benefits of being a woman in the technology field is the sense of making a significant impact within the industry, especially since it has traditionally been considered a male-dominated field whilst paving the way for other women.” Mary also echoed this sentiment but added she’s also excited to be a part of “promoting diversity and inclusion” in the workplace as well.
Advice for women entering tech
Kutyie shares what she wished she had known, “Don’t let fear hold you back. Focus on expanding your network and keep up with the ever-changing technology by staying informed about the latest advancements and trends in your field. Find a mentor to guide you and have confidence in yourself. Confidence plays a crucial role in the tech industry.” Mary also added that it’s important to learn from everyone around you and “get training, join a boot camp, apply for an entry role in tech and listen to podcasts. Having relevant skills will help you reduce the pressure to prove oneself as you’ll be demonstrably good at the job from the off.”
Overall, getting more women into tech isn’t just good for business, it’s good for their life satisfaction and the future career prospects of girls everywhere. Making a commitment to D&I hiring, merit-based promotions and fair and equal pay is just the first step. By championing STEM education, creating safe spaces for women in our workplaces and investing in professional development for all employees, we’re formulating better environments where women can thrive in tech.