The recent focus on gender equality in the Technology Sector has me thinking, it’s all well and good for HP, Google and Facebook to continuously comment and release data around ‘where they are’ versus ‘where they want to be’ but what about a little closer to home, where there is a great push and some good steps made by local companies; in my experience smaller companies boast a better statistic on diversity without the acknowledgement, this is why we need women in IT.
Starting my career as an Account Manager in the Health and Fitness Sector it didn’t take me long to realise that I was the minority entering a heavily male dominated industry. Although often regarded as a novelty, being a woman with firsthand experience in the IT industry has definitely worked to my advantage. I initially enjoyed the mainly male environment and gained an insight into the different ways men and women approach and conduct their business – further fuelling the ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ analogy. I felt my presence within the company was a small step towards breaking down misconceptions surrounding the presence of women within the industry, paving the way for other women to do the same. Regardless of the male to female ratio within the industry, I know that the transformation of a business as a result of my own personal graft is one of the many things I can be proud of in my career in IT and I am certain other women all over the world will have had this very same experience.
As women we tend to socialise and work from an intimately personal perspective, a skill that is valuable to the workplace and to help build genuine client relationships. For example a client within the Beauty industry regularly requires Technical Support. For them, the outcome is simply outcome based the importance lies in fixing the problem, the technician’s gender doesn’t contribute to the overall experience. However from a personal account management perspective the client is looking for someone who they can not only communicate with but also connect with on a personal level. I believe what a woman can successfully bring in empathy and compassion to the table.
There are plenty of campaigns and statistics on women not holding leadership roles, especially in the Technology Sector. Some of the campaigns I personally support are backed by the top women influencers in business, for example the #banbossy campaign endorsed by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and #likeagirl from Always, which focus on awareness and action. Another great example of an effective campaign is #girlswhocode, they have hundreds of partners who associate with their Summer Immersion Programs where they provide the in detail training for young women wanting to enter the technology industry.
Each year HP distribute their annual Global Citizenship Report. The data from the 2013 report showed a decrease of 1.2% of female employees within HP from the year 2009 to 2013. Grilling right down into the statistics there has been a 1.65% decrease in female technicians from 2009 to 2013. CEO Meg Whitman is a strong advocate for overcoming the gender gap in leadership roles within all industries. Google were happy to show the world exactly what their demographics look like, going alongside the hot topic of women in business they also put their hands up and said “We’re not where we want to be when it comes to diversity” with posting their most recent demographic numbers. I hope to see an increase in their next report.
My ambitions both personally and professionally are just as high as those of my male co-workers, I want to see myself at a Senior Level within the business. I think some employers put aside women’s career ambitions and focus on their personal situations and there certainly still appears to be some bias. When women are seen in the Technology industry it becomes more relevant for other women like me to look and pursue careers in these sectors, but not just to be contributing to a statistic, I want to make a difference and I don’t want that difference to be a number on a spreadsheet. I manage accounts operating in industries I can relate to, I manage accounts in industries I can’t relate to. The point is there’s no coincidence that the majority of my long term clients are run by business savvy women!
Its time for a change. I have a personal goal that one day when I tell a friend of a friend that I work in IT, I will not hear the usual response “Oh.. Wow… You work in IT, Really?”