March 8th 2022 marks International Women’s Day, and for many, this day is one to celebrate, highlighting the great steps that have been taken by individuals, organisations and industries alike in making women an equal part of society.

However, we still have a long way to go in making genuine and noticeable headway with diversity in the tech industry. According to the most recent Pipeline’s Women Count, only five percent of CEOs in FTSE 350 companies are women. With so little representation among leaders within the technology sector, it’s no wonder that so many women feel that there isn’t space for them within the industry.

However, there are many women who have made careers for themselves within the tech industry which have been rewarding and incredibly successful.

We talk to those women in this two-part series, highlighting their achievements as well as the advice they would give to those women looking to enter the technology field.

Yael TasherYael Tasher, Global Senior Director, Customer Success at Cyren

“Gender equality and diversity is something that has been constantly developing over the years. The evidence to that is that many companies have departments that are responsible for recruiting people from different backgrounds to create diversity (not only gender). And this openness and the fact that there are discussions about this topic shows the improvement. For example, at Cyren, we give equal chances to all candidates. When we recruit new employees, gender is not an issue- we look for the skills and the personality that the candidate brings.

“The industry can improve its gender equality by starting with young age- have companies help in exposing young people from different backgrounds to this world. Invest in programs that guide young people to believe in themselves and believe that they can join the technology industry, and what they want to achieve (it does not have to be engineering/coding, it can be finance, HR, etc). To that I would also add that sometimes women or people from different backgrounds may need to work or invest more to shine or show their value, but this is not necessarily a negative, on the contrary, it shows character and willingness.

“For those women looking to enter the tech industry, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and try a new path, it can often result in the best careers.”

Tina GravelTina Gravel- SVP Channel and Alliances at Appgate

“I started my career after I had just finished school in a company selling B2C products. I knew that I wanted to be involved with selling something that took strategic thinking, so I targeted companies that, at the time, had the best training programs, such as IBM. Once I made that decision to move to IT, I haven’t looked back.

“The technology industry has improved in its openness to welcome women into job roles, however, we still have a long way to go. Instead of looking at the industry as the culprit, we must look at all institutions; schools, governments, to make sure that fairness prevails and is architected into systems and processes at all levels to really effect change.

“For those women looking to enter the tech industry, please do not hesitate and come and join us! It is a wonderful time to be part of this business and we need you. I can promise that you will never be bored. You can find many female mentors within the space as well- one of my female mentors is Carolyn Boyle (ret.) CIO of CNA Insurance. At her peak she had over 1200 people in her department there. She has been coaching me since the 1990’s and I am so grateful for her sponsorship and friendship all these years later. She was my customer way back then, and I never let her go!”  

Bar Block, Threat Intelligence Researcher at Deep Instinct  

“I was not interested in the technology field at all until I had an “introduction to computer science” course in Middle school. We learned to program using a block based visual programming language called “Scratch”, and the teacher encouraged us to program apps that interested us, such as games. This made the lessons quite interesting and as a result, I majored in computer science in high school and even become an active member of the school’s app development club. When I finished high school, I enlisted in the IDF and went through cyber security training. When I eventually finished my service, I joined Deep Instinct.

“Although I have only been part of the tech industry for a few years, I do think it has improved in its openness to welcome women, and I think it is continuing to improve. The industry can help its next generation to become more diverse by helping young girls who are interested in tech related fields to fulfil their potential. This can be done by creating tech related afternoon programs for girls, encouraging them to take part in existing programs, or even just sending women who work in the industry to lecture in schools and show them that they also have a place in this industry.

“Those who are looking to enter the field need to know that there is a space for them- if it is something that you want to do, then do it. It may be difficult at first, but if you work hard, you will find your way in this industry and may even help in making it more accessible to other women.”

Rachel AbdullahRacha Abdullah, Customer Solutions Architect at EfficientIP

“I always knew I wanted to be a woman working in cybersecurity. My father, who was an officer, always said that the next war will be a cyber war. He therefore wanted all of his kids to have a career in cybersecurity, so it was instilled in us from a young age and he planted the seed of my affection towards networking and security.

 “I do think the industry has improved in its openness towards women- people trust that we can do just as well as the men working in the field, and they trust our expertise and opinions. While I haven’t faced discrimination per se, I have experienced people being surprised by the fact that I am a woman. For example, the first time I worked on a full deployment for a big project in the area, I discovered that the customer was really stunned- I was the first woman who was doing onsite professional services for them. I thought he was actually a little scared, but when he saw my professionalism and my dedication, he gave me his full support and we have since become good friends.”

Meet our 100 incredible leaders breaking the bias & calling for societal change this International Women’s Day

As part of our #WeAreBreakingTheBias campaign, we will be sharing the thoughts of over 100 leaders who are calling for societal change for women. We hope you will join us so we can amplify why we should all #BreakTheBias for gender equity.