International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global event that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It also marks a call to action for gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide.

In 2023, the IWD #EmbraceEquity campaign theme aims to focus on the importance of equity in achieving true inclusion and belonging for women. While equal opportunities are essential, they do not always lead to equal outcomes. The campaign highlights the need for equitable action that takes into account the unique challenges and barriers faced by women from different backgrounds.

The importance of role models in tech

“It’s well known that the number of women in technology is disappointingly low – a recent study put the current figure at just 26%”, states Svenja de Vos, CTO, Leaseweb Global (pictured left). “This is very disparaging, but the main issue with this statistic is that it not only shows the lack of women in the sector, but it actively works to discourage more women from joining.

“When people do not have mentors or role models to look up to they are less likely to be able to envisage themselves doing that job. And, while there are numerous men in the tech sector, female role models are few and far between. 78% of students from a recent survey couldn’t name a single famous female working in tech”.

Speaking from her own experience on the subject, Nurit Bielorai, Go-To-Market Manager at Aqua Security (pictured right)explains, “One thing that I’m extremely thankful for is the fact that early on in my career I was able to learn and be surrounded by strong, successful women. Organisations should provide equal opportunities for career advancement, promote diversity and inclusion, and offer mentorship and sponsorship programs. At the end of the day, it’s all in the people, and I believe that if the company culture values and respects the contributions of women in its core, a lot of the above can happen organically”.


Fostering tech careers through mentorship

Very much linked to the idea of promoting role models within underrepresented industries is theconcept of mentorship. Tanja Omeragic, Director, Technical Sales – Cybersecurity at ConnectWise (pictured left) explains, “tech remains a male dominated industry. These barriers won’t ever disappear, but we can minimise them as more female leaders break the glass ceiling, inspiring others to do the same. Organisations can support this aim by increasing awareness of the possibilities for women in tech, and by encouraging its leaders to mentor other women in the workplace. Having someone invest in your career and growth can make the world of difference.”

Susanne Gurman, VP of Revenue Marketing (pictured right), Beyond Identity agrees: “Throughout my career, the opportunities I was interested in weren’t designed to attract women; it was up to me to dig in. When I did, I found that I opened myself up to new and exciting opportunities. I encourage other women to do the same. Finding mentors who want to support you is vital. Early in my career, I thought I needed to figure things out on my own. That was one of my biggest mistakes – my career excelled when I started asking for help. Preparedness also cannot be underestimated. The easiest way to be seen as someone who adds value is to know your craft and offer ideas on how to move things forward – building confidence in your ability to contribute. Finally, find an environment with strong DEI roots and do not tolerate environments without”.

Flexibility and wellbeing in the tech workplace

The introduction of widespread remote working has had many positive impacts on women in the workplace. It creates a more accessible environment for women who are also juggling other responsibilities such as childcare. However as Sherrie Fernandes, Vice President of Product Management and User Experience (pictured left) at G-P says, “working from home removes the separation between work and family. For example, it can be hard to stop working as soon as it’s “family time” because the line between work and after work is more blurred – and even then, you might miss the ‘you time’, even if that was only the 10 minute commute. My advice for women in this situation is to carve out time for yourself, and set boundaries. This should also include prioritising your mental health and wellbeing”.


Flexibility in the workplace should also extend to women who need to take breaks in their careers. Oylum Tagmac, Senior Director of International Partner Management at Commvault (pictured right) expands, “as technology evolves rapidly and requires continuous efforts to learn and apply new things, it can be a challenge for women who take a break to have children. These women should be supported to have short pauses in their careers and there should be programs in place to bring them up to speed on their return. Flexible business hours and hybrid work policies should be implemented to provide flexibility for women balancing domestic and work responsibilities”.

Recruitment and retention in tech

Good recruitment practices are key to bringing diversity and equality into the workplace. “When recruiting for new team members someone should be selected if they are the best person for the role and not to tick a specific box as this gives credibility to the leadership”, highlights Vikki Woodford, Head of Product Operations at Tax Systems (pictured left).

“In the past I was asked to progress to interview for a job because they hadn’t had a lot of women applying (they didn’t mention my skills or fit) – I didn’t want to be interview fodder, so I politely declined. The best person for the job should be in the job, regardless of gender or other consideration, and at the same time, the company must have the correct balance of skills and experiences to lead a successful company with a winning culture. Hard-nosed business decisions aren’t just male traits, and empathetic, diplomatic approaches don’t just come from women”.

The natural next step after successful recruitment is retention and yet again, women face an unfair advantage in this arena. Hannah Birch, Manager Director – Digital at Node4 (pictured right) explains: “Today’s companies have more problems retaining women and getting them to the top positions than they have recruiting them in the first place. Statistics show that 45% more women than men leave technology roles, and half of the women in tech roles leave before the age of 35. A major factor in this is maternity leave and the extended carers breaks that many women take to focus on their parenting responsibilities.

“What is missing in a lot of businesses is proper support to help these women catch up when they get back to the workplace. Recent government policy is helping to level the playing field on this issue. Schemes like Shared Parental Leave help to facilitate new ways of working and make it the norm for men to play a much more active role in their children’s lives”.

Imposter syndrome in tech

Another issue for retention is linked to more complex issues facing women – notably imposter syndrome. Liudmyla Suslova, Head of the QA Center of Excellence, Intellias expands, “IT professionals often face career crossroads in their journey, from encountering technology advancement and prioritising personal growth, to choosing the wrong path or getting stuck in one position with no room to grow. Women in tech must also contend with the lack of diversity and representation that they all-too-often face in the industry, which in turn can accentuate self-doubt and imposter syndrome”.

“When you only make up ¼ of the workforce (and even less in leadership positions), it’s hard not to feel like an imposter sometimes”, Claire Hughes, Human Resources Business Partner Manager at Totalmobile (pictured left) continues, “I think it’s one of the greatest barriers we face as we strive for success. When I previously took on an executive position, I was all too aware that I was the only woman on the team and although I was never made to feel any different by my colleagues, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t as experienced or knowledgeable as the rest. But that wasn’t the case at all.

“Imposter syndrome isn’t easy to overcome, but if you’re at the table, you’re there for a reason! Today of all days, I would like to encourage any woman currently facing the same struggle to remember your own strengths; you may not have the same knowledge as the man sitting next to you, but that’s the point! Bringing together people with different strengths, experiences, and ways of thinking is the key to a successful business”.

Looking Forward to a better future for women in tech 

Amy Johnston, Marketing Executive at Aqilla (pictured right) concludes, “many recent events around the world have provoked vital conversations about social injustice, highlighting the need for businesses and organisations to take meaningful action when it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion within the workplace.

“Understanding unconscious bias, promoting equal pay, providing equal opportunities to develop skills and ambitious career prospects, as well as assessing overall company values, is crucial for building inclusive environments in the workplace”.

“It is crucial to encourage more women into the technology sector, and once they’re here to support them in their role so that they can drive their career forward and make an impact in their chosen field. While the number of women in STEM has made progress over time, there’s still much more that the technology industry can do to redress the gender balance,” finishes Dominique Fougerat, EVP People & Culture at Axway.