The International Day of Women and Girls in Science provides an opportunity for tech industry organizations to reflect on their efforts to redress gender imbalances
Fortunately, the industry seems to be starting to move in the right direction. ONS stats from last year reveal that the number of women working in tech has continued to rise, with 31% of tech jobs in the UK now held by women. Although the industry is not there yet, it is starting to show signs of improvement.
With that in mind, a host of tech experts shared their thoughts on the importance of encouraging young women to pursue STEM subjects in school, and some of the stereotypes that need to be banished in the sector:
Diverse hiring is now a necessity
Edwina Murphy, Director, Public Cloud Management, Sungard AS, believes that the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is an opportunity for companies to reflect on their commitment to inclusion. She said: “Companies should take advantage of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science to assess whether they are on track to meet their diversity and inclusion goals. Self-reflection is essential, so companies should consult with their employees on a regular basis, asking them what they think needs to change to make the workplace more inclusive. Business leaders must also eliminate unconscious bias – a wide-ranging societal problem that is certainly not exclusive to the tech industry. It starts with the hiring process, eliminating bias by ensuring there is a diverse group of interviewers in charge of decision-making. As such, the tech industry can begin to improve its gender imbalance issues and more women will be encouraged to pursue careers in the field.
Dr Lucy Mackillop, Chief Medical Officer, Sensyne Health, takes a similar stance and also believes that a diverse hiring process is crucial. She says, “There is no doubt that the life sciences industry is becoming more diverse, but there is still room for improvement. At Sensyne Health we have strong ambitions to provide more support to women in these roles, we have a huge role to play in diversifying the science and technology industry. I believe this starts with hiring more diversity, as companies focus on hiring people with different opinions and experiences to ensure their work and workplaces are as inclusive as possible. With a diverse workforce, we will be able to drive innovation in all areas of healthcare, helping to discover treatments for illnesses and diseases that affect a wider range of individuals, regardless of regardless of their geography, ethnicity, gender and age. This, in turn, will enable us to participate in improving patient care for all.
Early education is the key
EJ Cay, Vice President, UK and Ireland, Genesys, believes that young girls should be encouraged to participate in STEM subjects as early as possible. “The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is important to me because it reminds me that gender equality in these fields is essential to building a better future. Without more women and girls in STEM, the world will continue to be designed by and for men, while the potential of girls and women will remain untapped. As such, we must encourage women and girls to study these subjects and make the transition to the labor market. There is also a need to create spaces for women that ensure their careers are smooth and allow them to build a fulfilling work-life balance. It will open so many doors for other women to be inspired by technology the same way I was. »
Karen Worstell, Senior Cybersecurity Strategist, vmware, agrees, saying educational institutions need to make STEM subjects accessible to everyone. She explains, “When I determined what type of career I wanted to pursue, I was fortunate to have access to educational and extracurricular resources that allowed me to be at the forefront of a emerging field such as cybersecurity. For future generations of women in STEM to help break the glass ceiling, we need educational institutions to foster this kind of support and access for young people of all socio-economic levels, regardless of their gender, ethnic origin or geography. Businesses also need to recognize that the technology talent pool is currently fragile and more needs to be done to hire, retain and develop talent.
Changing workers’ perception of technology
Mairead O’Connor, Head of Cloud Engineering, digital AND, indicates that there is evidence of progress and that workers’ perception of technology is slowly changing. She says, “The tech industry is still very misunderstood: the age-old image of the solo coder working in a basement is far from reality. The most underrepresented necessary skills are teamwork, communication, creativity and pragmatic problem solving. I would love to see companies understand more about what they need in their technical roles and work hard to hire the right people. A computer science degree can be a great route to a career in technology, but it’s certainly not the only route. I studied science in college, but some of the most discerning technologists I know studied the humanities or learned their skills outside of college.
Lori MacVittie, Senior Technical Evangelist in the Office of the CTO, F5, agrees and argues that fundamentally, STEM has a branding issue. “There is a stereotype of the type of women who work in these [STEM] the roles. You would think of introverts and people who wear black and no heels, but that’s just not the case! It doesn’t matter what type of woman you are, what you wear or your personality. There is a role for you. And that’s a message I try to get across to my peers.
Roisin Wherry, Data and Technology Specialist, Grayceagrees and also recognizes the importance of cultivating diverse talent in the field through mentorship programs, saying, “As a self-taught coder, I totally sympathize with the ‘pale, masculine, and stale’ stereotype that has long plagued the tech industry. With that in mind, I recommend others create space for a wide range of people in the technology and data sector. These can either be through peer-to-peer support or helping those exploring the industry grow with more confidence. In my current role, I regularly organize catch-up cafes, socials, study groups, coding clubs, and Slack chats.This creates a supportive community where analysts at all levels help each other with customer interviews, advice techniques, help people get settled and even provide technical training.
Be brave and be heard
Caroline Grey, Chief Client Officer, UiPathconcludes the general sentiment by saying that her message on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is: “Girls, take a risk, raise your hands in class and ask your question if something n isn’t clear and stay open to giving and receiving feedback. Later, when you grow up, apply for that job you’ve always wanted, but you’re not sure you’re good enough for it. Let’s all enjoy of pursuing the opportunities that open up as women in tech. We deserve our place. The authority gap is real, but the movement to close it is accelerating. Be proud of your diverse identity. We have need you!”
About the authors
Contributors include: Edwina Murphy, Director, Public Cloud Management, Sungard AS; Dr. Lucy Mackillop, Chief Medical Officer, Sensyne Health; EJ Cay, Vice President, UK and Ireland, Genesys; Karen Worstell, Senior Cybersecurity Strategist, VMware; Mairead O’Connor, Head of Cloud Engineering, AND Digital; Lori MacVittie, Senior Technical Evangelist in the Office of the CTO, F5; Roisin Wherry, Data and Technology Specialist, Grayce; and Caroline Gray, Chief Customer Officer, UiPath.
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