On this International Women’s Day, we speak to five leading women in the tech Channel and discover why they believe the gender gap in the tech industry is slowly closing.
2021 research by Deloitte Global predicted that large global technology firms, on average, will reach nearly 33% overall female representation in their workforces by the end of 2022, a huge leap from the 17% reported by The Guardian in 2020.
Helen Kelisky, Managing Director, Google Cloud UK is passionate about driving greater diversity in the tech sector
“My experience as a female tech leader has been, and continues to be, wonderfully fulfilling. When I joined the industry over 30 years ago, I was ambitious and eager to learn, but could never have dreamed of the experiences and opportunities I’ve been given. During my career I’ve found that being a female, and at times the exception in a circle of other tech leaders, it’s important to always be on your game, and do all you can to pull other women up with you.
Whilst there is still more to be done to drive gender equality, women in senior tech positions are less of an exception today. I’ve been privileged to work with hugely impressive female leaders throughout my career, to watch them fill boardrooms with diverse voices, and new ideas, and inspire the industry’s next generation. Tech is a fast paced and dynamic world, which means there are countless opportunities for women to make a difference, to disrupt, innovate and achieve their career dreams. If you have an appreciation for technology, a curious mind and an ambition to grow, tech is a career choice worth considering. My question is: why wouldn’t you want to work in tech?”
Catherine Mwololo, CFO at Westcon-Comstor, Middle East & Africa is also witnessing a welcome change
“The technology sector was a male-dominated sector just a short while ago. I’ve always wondered why that wasn’t changing but I’m pleased to say today we’re starting to see that change. We’re not only seeing more women in various IT roles, we’re also seeing more women talking technical languages, taking up technical roles beyond just sales or marketing, and more girls taking up STEM programmes, which were again, traditionally male-dominated.”
Kathleen Pai, Chief People Officer at N-able, has been pushing for increased female representation in the technology industry throughout her career and has some practical solutions to help break the gender bias
“The tech industry is largely considered male-dominated, subjecting women to a range of biases, both conscious and unconscious. Women often feel the need to adapt to this construct, but it’s important they feel comfortable and we all need to work together and work better at creating an equal working environment to break the bias.
One of the biggest barriers to change is overlooking female voices. We need to proactively listen and truly understand women’s needs and ideas to create the more equal world we envision.
For instance, at N-able, we recently launched our women’s Community of Interest (COI) called WONDER – Women of N-able Defining Equality and Respect. This community provides women an environment of belonging, allowing them to share feedback and learn from fellow members and allies.
It’s important for tech companies to create a similar space to listen and learn from their women colleagues because ultimately, this is how we can work together to take action and drive change.”
Fiona Doak, Director of Channel Sales EMEA at Appgate has some advice for women thinking of a career in the tech Channel
“The industry has come a very long way since I first started. I remember a time I was presenting to a group of people and I realised I was the only woman in the room! Now, you won’t find that to be the case, and there is not only an openness, but a proactive move to equality within the industry.
We have a very diverse workforce at Appgate and I think it speaks for itself that there are a number of women in my organisation, with the mantra being that everyone is judged solely on their ability rather than anything else. It is the responsibility of every organisation to look at whether they are doing enough to have a welcome and open workforce, and to ensure that everyone within the company is comfortable with supporting this.
The main pieces of advice I would give to other women entering the industry is to learn your craft, listen and learn from others, never stop asking questions (and ask for help when you need it), but most importantly, enjoy it! I think it’s also important to recognise the value of having another female mentor- mine was Alex Tempest and I learnt a great deal from her (and it helped that we also shared a passion for good shoes!).”
Elmien Du Toit, Chief Operating Officer at Westcon-Comstor, Middle East & Africa is feeling hopeful
“Things are definitely and I’ve seen that happening over the last few years. We used to often only see women in HR or marketing-led roles, but today, more of us are being recognised for the value and knowledge we can offer to the business. More businesses need to put equality and breaking gender-related biases on their agenda, demonstrate that they support diversity, and walk the talk with policies to support women to make it comfortable for women to thrive.”