Women In Tech Share Their Thoughts About International Women’s Day
Women in tech talk about what working in technology means to them and what they think about International Women's Day and why it's important to them.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, here are some quotes from experts about working in the technology space:
Alena Golovnya, marketing manager, North America, Sinequa:
“On International Women’s Day, we celebrate all women. For women in technology, that means we acknowledge those who have pushed the boundaries of the industry and are helping to strengthen workforces by making them more inclusive environments.
As a forward-thinking and innovative sector, it’s important for the tech industry to continue creating opportunities where women not only enter the industry, but break the gender ‘norms’ to lead.
Now more than ever, women in STEM are needed to provide knowledge and mentorship to other women because when we encourage and empower each other, it can result in amazing things for the future of tech,” said Alena Golovnya, marketing manager of North America for Sinequa.
Sophie Harpur, product manager, Split.io:
“My work in the tech industry began on an innovation project for the Victorian government in Melbourne. There, I met tech leaders whose passion and drive were contagious, especially when tasked with solving a problem! There is enormous potential in tech to find solutions to problems like climate change, diseases, poverty and so much more, and that excites me.
I’m also inspired by Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble, the dating app where women make the first move. Whitney encourages young women to take ownership over their social lives and careers (through Bumble Bizz). With a predominantly female exec team, she created a brand with a powerful ethos and a strong following that aims to improve the lives of women around the globe.
Had I learned basic coding earlier in my career, I believe it would help me to empathise with engineers on my team, help them create precise roadmap estimates, and ensure we’re all meeting company standards for our work.
My advice to younger women entering tech – learn some Python, get a Github account and get ready to print.helloworld! The future is wide open to see where technology takes (wo)mankind, and I am grateful to be part of this community,” said Sophie Harpur, product manager for Split.io.
Kanthi Prasad, VP of engineering, WhiteHat Security:
“The gender gap in the technology industry still exists. When I started working, I did not expect equality, but instead started with the assumption that I have to try to work harder than people around me in order to gain equal footing. Nobody can stand up for you better than yourself, so learn how and when to verbalise what you need.
Nobody can stand up for you better than yourself, so learn how and when to verbalise what you need.
Don’t be the one who gets easily offended by things around you. That does not mean it is easy, but choose to concentrate on the long-term outcome than the short-term pain. The right mentor or sponsor can support and guide you through even the most difficult situations. Make time for the women in your organisation to support, mentor and appreciate each other as much as possible,” said Kanthi Prasad, VP of engineering for WhiteHat Security.
Krista Delucchi, engineering program manager, WhiteHat Security:
“I enjoy working in technology because I get to help shape the digital world in which we exist, and I know that the influence provided by women creates a product that better serves its users.
Working in technology has provided me with countless opportunities to witness the incredible support that women provide to one another (and to the rest of their peers), find role models in the brave, brilliant, and inspiring females around me, and learn to be a fair leader both in the workplace and in my personal life.
Diversity in technology (whether it’s gender identity, race, culture, age, orientation, or any other factor that makes people wonderfully unique) directly translates to its day to day success in the field,” said Krista Delucchi, engineering program manager at WhiteHat Security.
Ellen Harbour, director, global training, WhiteHat Security:
“I began my career in technology in the 1980s and was fortunate to land my first ‘real’ job at a company that encouraged diversity in every area. Women made up approximately 40 percent of the IT department, so I had many female role models at all levels of the organisation. It was nearly a decade later that I had my first encounter with the ‘male bias’ that has become so prevalent.
I love working in technology because it is constantly presenting new opportunities to learn, and while technology has definitely changed over the years, the skills I learned in the early days of my career have enabled me to evolve and grow my career in ways I never envisioned,” said Ellen Harbour, director of global training at WhiteHat Security.
Bob Davis, CMO, Plutora:
“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. 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,” said Bob Davis, CMO at Plutora.
Joanna Hu, principal data scientist, Exabeam:
“On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the many strengths of women and the perspectives they bring to technology. It’s important to remember that women bring a unique voice to the table. They should know their worth and not be afraid of advancing. Our communities and companies need diversity in leadership roles to succeed because every person’s individual background also brings a new perspective that can drive the bottom line, culture and overall success of the business.
Young women in technology must find a good mentor to be successful, and that requires being proactive, and committing to continuously learning from superiors and peers. Women in technology must remember to never give up on their dreams, always strive to do better and keep a positive attitude. And no matter what roadblocks may come, they should never let anyone limit their potential. They are in charge of their own personal destiny. In addition, when choosing where to work, work for the people you admire and respect, not the job offering the highest pay. Lastly, it’s better to keep the ‘gender difference’ idea out of your mind, because there is really no such thing in terms of doing well at work,” said Joanna Hu, principal data scientist at Exabeam.
Yumi Nishiyama, director of global services, Exabeam:
“The gender gap definitely still exists in a variety of ways, many of which are widely publicised. For example, statistics say only 20% of individuals in tech are women, and only 11% per cent of individuals in cybersecurity are women. We need more women in upper leadership, and the unequal wage issue is still a reality. I’d like to encourage women to take a proactive stance in not only building the solutions but being a part of the solution. We need to continue encouraging females in STEM education and build more support structures for women throughout their careers.
Tech and cybersecurity can have a bad rap for being male-dominated, which can be a deterrent for women looking for diverse environments. When I first started in this industry, I was often the only female among male colleagues and felt extremely outnumbered at the big conferences. Now, years later, the community of women has gotten stronger and incredibly welcoming and embracing. It’s been slow, but it’s changing, so I encourage women to reach out, support each other, and not to feel discouraged.
My biggest piece of advice for women of all ages would be: ‘do not be afraid to use your voice.’ As women, we bring different ideas and strengths. Be confident in what you’re good at, pursue what you’re passionate about, and let that be the focal point, not the stereotypes,” said Yumi Nishiyama, director of global services at Exabeam.
Crendal Kear, VP of sales operations, Exabeam:
“Tech is very male-dominated, which can be overwhelming for women considering careers in the sector. People want to work with others that relate to their experiences and the challenges that they face. What has helped me, and can help many others is picking the right boss, not just the right job. It is important to work for someone who is supportive of you as an individual and is constantly pushing you out of your comfort zone. This can help you feel heard and safe to speak up, no matter the demographic.
In the technology field, there is also a misconception that you must have a strong technical background to get into the tech sector, but there is a broad range of roles that require less of a technical slant, such as finance and human resources. My advice would be: ‘don’t be afraid to take on the challenge, and be assertive once you get into the role.’ The worst case is that you learn something new.
As for encouraging the next generation, at a young age, girls need to see that there are more and more women with successful careers, who balance careers and families. As a society, we must encourage and empower girls to say yes to an opportunity and embrace it,” said Crendal Kear, VP of sales operations at Exabeam.
Estee Woods, director of public sector and public safety marketing, Cradlepoint:
“As a sector devoted to innovation and connectivity, the technology industry is uniquely positioned to help close the gender gap in the workplace. Yet, as recently as 2016, 43 percent of the 150 highest-earning public companies in Silicon Valley had no female executive officers at all. As we celebrate the trailblazers of gender equality and women’s rights this International Women’s Day, we should also reflect on the differing and valuable perspectives that diverse voices bring to the table. We encourage everyone to celebrate the strong women in their lives, personally and professionally, and to empower the women in their organisations. Today, we encourage women in tech to own their voices, to value their intellect and skills,” said Estee Woods, director of public sector and public safety marketing at Cradlepoint.
Svenja de Vos, chief technology officer, Leaseweb:
“It’s vital to get more women into the tech industry, for two reasons. Firstly, diversity is important. A team comprised of people with different backgrounds and an even balance of genders is more representative of the clients and customers for who you are building products. Secondly, the tech sector is growing, and it needs more people. It’s a simple numbers game – if the tech industry only employs men, there simply won’t be enough skills and resources to keep pace with the growth.
I believe that if more women are to enter the tech sector, we need to start young, showing girls that tech can be fun. I started coding when I was about eight years old. My parents bought a computer and I was hooked. It was fun learning how it worked, creating something on a computer. There is so much scope for creativity in tech – more than people think.
Being a female CTO today still makes me a bit of a unicorn. And, despite my background and position, some still assume I don’t have technical knowledge. And the worst part is that I find myself getting used to these comments. But my team respects me because of my technical expertise, not simply because of my title or in spite of my gender, and this is always how it should be.
My advice to women keen to develop a career in tech is to just do it. Listen, learn and be the best version of yourself. Find the role that fits you best, and don’t feel obligated to work in a more stereotypical role that may not be the best one for you – after all, it’s person specific, not gender specific.
In the future, everything is going to have tech elements, from fashion to charity to healthcare. Tech has gone mainstream, the typical ‘tech’ stereotype’ is a thing of the past, and now is the time to change perceptions while narrowing the skills gap,” said Svenja de Vos, chief technology officer at Leaseweb.
Caroline Seymour, VP of product marketing, Zerto
“Data compiled by Evia showed that last year less that 20% of technology roles in the US were held by women. Shockingly it also found that women now hold a lower share of computer science jobs than in 1980.
“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. 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. 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.”
Jeannie Barry, director of technology enablement, ConnectWise:
“For women in the technology industry, it can be a struggle to get people to trust and respect you upon first interaction. Confidence and carrying yourself professionally amongst your peers are essential to earning respect.
For women who are struggling in a male-dominated industry, the key is to not stop learning. It helps with maintaining confidence in any situation and allows you to prove that you deserve to be there just as much as anyone else. Don’t be afraid to speak up, either. If you have something to share, don’t hide behind someone else – that’s how you gain the respect of the room.”
“Young girls today need people surrounding them who can help to boost their confidence and inspire them to dream big and follow through on those dreams. With social media all around us, girls are comparing themselves to other girls, causing a lot of self-doubt and lowering self-worth. We need to make sure we’re constantly providing opportunities to grow their confidence and ensure they are focused on their own journey and not trying to be like someone else.
Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, and Karlie Kloss, model and entrepreneur who started Kode with Klossy, are inspiring women to have an interest in technology. They understand how important it is to get girls interested at a young age and help them build confidence in coding and engineering. It’s awesome that they are inspiring women to have an interest in technology and to be proud of how smart they really are – I wish I had something like this when I was growing up,” said Jeannie Barry, director of technology enablement at ConnectWise.
How will you celebrate International Women’s Day?
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