25/03/2021: International Women's Day 2021: Choose to Challenge | Women in DevOps

Women in DevOps IWD event

This month we are amplifying the voices of women from our DevOps community for our International Women’s Day Special in collaboration with Coding Black Females.

You can expect a forward-thinking discussion led by leaders from around the globe for another uplifting and empowering panel discussion.

According to a study by DORA and Google Cloud (2019), the reported percentage of women on teams fell compared to the previous year, with only 16% of DevOps teams including women. We understand that even though the tech world is progressive, there is still work to be done to improve gender equality. We will be touching on challenges our leaders have experienced throughout their careers, whilst celebrating achievements and increasing visibility as well as the importance of calling out inequality, as we choose to challenge.

All ticket proceeds will be donated to the incredible charity Smart Works. Smart Works is a UK based charity that provides high-quality interview clothing and interview training to unemployed women in need. Check out the impact Smart Works is making on the lives of women in the UK. Find out more about Smart Works here.

Our panel

- Francesca Pollard - Chair & Host @ Women in DevOps

- Janani Vasudevan is a Principal Engineering Manager @ Microsoft

- Loreli Cadapan - Senior Director of Product @ JFrog

- Catherine Akinyele - Digital Marketer @ Coding Black Females


Looking for more events or networking opportunities? WeAreTechWomen has a dedicated events calendar with thousands of different events to help broaden your network and learn new skills. We have also launched WeAreVirtual - a series of free webinars to help expand your learning online. 

Don’t forget, you can also sign up to our bi-weekly newsletter to keep up-to-date with our upcoming events and webinars. 

group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

'Choose To Challenge'

group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

Article by Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director, Converge

Whilst our minds are busy with concepts like furlough and home schooling, it’s still important that we take a moment to celebrate women around the world, their achievements, raise awareness about gender equality, and challenge the status quo. 

At Converge, challenging is all we do. In fact, many still call us ‘Converge Challenge’, our original name when we launched back in 2011. We’ve tried to migrate to our new name, Converge, but with limited success.

Back then, we set to challenge Scottish Universities and their rate of research and idea commercialisation. In the last 10 years, the sector has massively improved its commercial outputs and can now count on a much more entrepreneurial mind-set amongst its staff and students. Scotland now rates fairly high in the University Spin-out ranking, as reported in the latest Beurhust’s Spotlight on Spin-outs.

It is not yet time to rest on our laurels though. Albeit many Universities have now become engines of innovation and company creation, making huge contributions to the economy, the process is far from perfect.

Too few female founders still come to the fore, in fact according to that very same report, in the UK only 20% of University spin-outs count at least one female founder and only 13% of total equity raised by spin-outs is secured by female founded spin-outs.

Too many talented women are put off or knocked down by the culture that surrounds investment, business growth and the idea that if you want to be an entrepreneur then you cannot be anything else and you should dedicate every waking moment to it. We know the reality is rather different, however. You can choose to be an entrepreneur, and also a mother, a father, a caring son or daughter and even have another job to sustain your family whilst your business takes off. There isn’t just one way to be entrepreneurial and we need to challenge this stereotype.

Over the last 10 years, we have substantially increased the number of female participants into our company creation programme, reaching 50:50 balance in 2019.

Last year, all top prizes were awarded to female-led or co-led businesses. This was achieved in tandem with announcing a special prize for the most promising female entrepreneur, the Rose Award (sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland and supported by their CEO, Alison Rose). And we are not the only ones, far from it.

Companies around the world have made public statements about their gender policies, disclosed gender pay gaps and adapted their investment processes to guarantee a fare share of the funding is distributed to female-founded businesses.

The current pandemic unfortunately might take us back more than 10 years.

Women have been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 crisis, having had to go back to be the main children’s or elderlies’ carers. Economic sectors led by women have been decimated by the economic crisis. All the progress we were making risks being wiped off in just 12 months.

We cannot allow this to happen.

So, this year, I choose to challenge our behaviour, our perception, our ability to accept that women’s equality is a fair price to pay in this crisis.

I choose to challenge myself and my own conscious and unconscious bias, and to challenge others’ judgment criteria.

I choose to be the one who always brings up the question of Diversity & Inclusion, even at the risk of sounding like a broken record.

Converge is lucky to be part of the journey of so many inspirational female founders from different walks of life: from bench scientists to creative talents, our environment is a constant source of inspiration and marvel.

As we continue our efforts in the commercialisation arena and work together to contribute to the economic recovery, we should not forget our guiding principles of equality, fairness and inclusion.

About the author

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director, ConvergeClaudia Cavalluzzo is Director of Converge, Scotland’s largest academic company creation and pioneering entrepreneurship development and enterprise programme for staff, students and recent graduates from Scotland’s Higher Education Institutions

WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.  

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

woman wearing a white lab coat working on an engineering project, International Women in Engineering Day

It's a woman's world: How to celebrate International Women's Day in 2021

woman wearing a white lab coat working on an engineering project, International Women in Engineering DayIt’s no secret that women have been pioneers in innovation for centuries.

From Wifi to windscreen wipers, women have helped pave the way across all industries and sectors including sustainability, technology, medicine and engineering. It’s also no secret that these women faced prejudice, ridicule and even persecution for their innovations in what was, and to some extent still is, perceived to be a ‘man’s world’. This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is choose to challenge. Challenge gender bias. Challenge inequality. Challenge anyone who says ‘it’s a man’s world’. We can each choose to challenge the issues that women face, celebrate their achievements and create a more inclusive world in the process.

International Women’s Day is a cause for celebration very close to Hire Space’s heart - we have so many strong women on our team! Usually, we would be celebrating in the office, recognising each other’s successes and generally celebrating the massive accomplishments women are making in the world every single day. However, this year will look a little different. The coronavirus pandemic has reduced our opportunities for social interactions, leaving many of us feeling isolated and lacking the sense of community they once had. This can leave us feeling deflated when wanting to celebrate causes and movements that are so driven by community solidarity.

A tech company at heart, Hire Space truly believes that if harnessed in the correct way, technology can be used to create outstanding virtual experiences that bring something new to the table. Sure, we can’t replicate the serendipity of in-person events over a computer screen, but we believe that we can still utilise some of the incredible technology we have at our fingertips in order to recognise and celebrate our achievements.

So with that in mind, to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day on 8th March, Hire Space is offering a collaborative, interactive virtual experience to inform and educate your team on the history of this important date. This is the perfect opportunity to bring your employees together, regardless of gender, to mark this date by celebrating the wonderful women in our lives. The event includes a talk and Q&A with an inspiring speaker and change-maker in gender equality, as well as interactive workshops and a chance to discuss and debate in small groups.

This offers the perfect environment to encourage your team to ask questions, raise any issues and become more educated on gender equality so that you can bring positive change to your organisation and build on team solidarity. You can even treat your employees to food and drink delivery if you want to make it extra special; the experience is completely customisable to suit any team.

If you’re interested in finding out more or want to start planning your virtual International Women’s Day celebration, book a free consultation to get started.

I hope that whatever form it takes, you’ll celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day and that you, too, will choose to challenge.

WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

IWD Collage Tech featured

#ChooseToChallenge: What does International Women's Day mean to you?

IWD Collage Tech

Women’s equality has made positive gains but the world is still unequal.

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing global attention on areas requiring further action.

Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8, with the first day being held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women’s groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked women from all backgrounds, ethnicity and ages to tell us what exactly the day means to them:

Mary Asante"There are still a significantly high number of men working in the technology sector than there are women. Highlighting the innovative and positive contribution that women in tech can and are making to changing the world, will encourage more women to be inspired to join the industry. Mentoring and supporting upcoming female professionals will also be key to attaining gender balance in tech too.”


Justina Blair"Being a BAME female means International Women’s Day is a paramount day of reflection. It's a day to value and utilise our female narrative as a tool, to highlight progression and limitations- shared experiences are acknowledged and validated by one another. I am grateful and inspired to be in an organisation led by a female CEO- Alison Rose. As a woman in STEM that would like to see more women enter STEM roles, I choose to challenge any apprehension young females might have when navigating their careers. Today is about further growth in the potential for equality, regardless of gender. It's a day for community-spirit and a sense of belonging. As a member of a Diversity & Community work stream I am lucky enough to partake in panels speaking to young people and wherever possible I look to inspire the young women attending to take a leap of faith like I did."


Katie Beckham“I’m a big believer that as a parent, you find yourself trying things you never thought you would. Hence, my experience at Christmas building my first ever PC with my daughter, and also spray painting for the first time, because she wanted a pink case! If you want to motivate your girls, it turns out building a computer is like playing Minecraft! #ChooseToChallege #IWD”


May YangInternational Women’s Day reminds me of all the female role models who have inspired me. We should actively use our power of influence, and the platform which we have, to uplift and inspire others. In our busy lifestyles, we often forget to thank those who have helped us directly or indirectly along the way, and we should take advantage of this day to thank them and pay it forward.”


Nabila SalemInternational Women’s Day means so much to so many. To me, it’s a promise to ourselves and to young girls everywhere that we will continue the fight for equality. It’s a renewal of our commitment to do better, to educate, and crucially, to celebrate the successes of women across the globe. It’s a reminder that there’s a great deal of work yet to be done, and to stand up and challenge the injustices we see to create a brighter, more diverse future for all.”


Heather Delaney"It’s refreshing to see organisations such as Women in Tech and STEM Women which have been put in place to support women within the industry, and their celebration of days such as International Women’s Day. As we look to this year’s theme of ‘Choose to Challenge’, I challenge the notion that women within any industry should only be celebrated one day a year and instead, I look forward to seeing more senior women coming into STEM roles and being highlighted throughout the year for the great work they are doing within their industries. A future where we live International Women’s Day 365 days a year through the celebration of their achievements and the respect of female colleagues, and can one day retire the single day is one I look forward to."


Hannah Paterson"While I'm no longer the only woman in my organisation, I'm often the only one at the management table, which is a common pattern across the IT sector. This International Women’s Day I’ll be reflecting on the progress that we’ve made as an industry while focusing on the changes still needed to improve the future for the women of tomorrow.

“Yes, we’ve come a long way and it’s incredible to think that the proportion of women in specialist computing roles increased to its highest ever level this summer, according to BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. But at just 20% of the overall IT workforce, true gender equality is still some way off. Starting from a very early age, we need to do more to support our daughters in making positive choices and to open their eyes to the world of technology.

“As a mum of two young children, I know first-hand how flexible a career in IT can be, and how rewarding. It has taken me to the other side of the world and to some very interesting places - an offshore oil rig being one that stands out.

“With the pandemic transforming how we work and increasing the acceptance of remote working, I hope that even more women will be able to enter the IT profession and experience the opportunities for themselves. I choose to challenge the misconceptions they may have and show the breadth and variety of roles on offer – no coding skills required."


SHANDRA GEMMITI"International Women's Day is a reminder to both celebrate how far we've come and also acknowledge how much work is still left to be done. It's a day to come together and challenge the status quo, and recognize the need to continue to push for meaningful change. This day holds a special place because I want to be able to look at my daughter one day and explain to her that her mom pushed boundaries and challenged biases so that just maybe, she didn't have to."


Hilary Mine"Women and minorities have contributed far more to science, engineering, and STEM as a whole than I was ever taught in school.  One of the things I most treasure about International Women’s Day is that each year we learn new stories of tremendous role models that not only exist today, but many who have contributed to society in past decades but were never acknowledged or celebrated.  The quilt of accomplishments and contributions is much richer as we understand all the contributors better.”


Anne-Sophie Le Bloas"In our society, women must fight much more than their male counterparts at every level. It's not simple to apprehend that, as we are all individually focused on our own trajectory. However, we can perceive the gap when we take a step back and look at the stats. On International Women’s Day, I will look at the stats again, celebrate the achievements, and acknowledge the work left to do. I will also encourage women and me an around me to do the same. And the rest of the year, I'll try to promote women and foster sisterhood."


Cynthia Huang

“Being a woman is a constantly evolving journey. The paths that were possible for us a decade ago are very different than the paths possible for us today, and the paths that could be possible for us ten years from now. 

International Women’s Day is an important milestone to check in at each year, to reflect on how those ever-evolving paths have empowered women around the world to dream bigger and reach further. 

As a mother and an aunt to young girls, I love that our generation of women, especially in tech, is uniquely positioned to both appreciate how far we’ve come, and not take the opportunities we have today for granted. Women in tech today must be mindful and not grow complacent in thinking that the positive trends we see empowering women today will automatically continue; we must be intentional in the paths we take and the paths we help cultivate for future women in tech. 

In the drone industry for instance, I look around today and I see all the amazing things that women have achieved. And I am thankful for the many men and women who have pushed hard and fought off bias to actively recognize and empower women in drones. The industry may still be viewed as male dominated today, but collectively we can work to change that perception. If not by sheer percentage breakdowns, then through a stronger effort to encourage, recognize, and appreciate the women in this fast evolving space.”


Napua Solsona, Chief Marketing Officer at Emjoy“International Women’s Day has a dual meaning for me. Whilst it is certainly a day to recognise and celebrate what we, as women, have accomplished so far; it is also a reminder for us to acknowledge the work that still needs to be done, so that we can continue to make a positive change for current and future generations. For me personally, this year’s “choose to challenge” message is a strong and powerful one. There remains an assumption that women should choose just one path; however, we are capable of being successful parents, leaders, friends and  partners, all at once. I decided to become a mother in my mid-20's; and I didn’t feel that to do so, I had to stop advancing my career. Women can ‘have it all’ and this year, it feels important to shout that message loud and clear.”


Gabriela Matic"I think International Women's day remains incredibly important. I love learning more about inspiring women and all the great things they have achieved and done to change the world, shape our futures and challenge the status quo. It's also a great day to reflect on how far we are from actually achieving true equality. All around the world, women still face great injustices and I think it's important to challenge anyone who is in denial about that. I try to challenge gender bias and inequality whenever I can in my everyday life by pointing out a lack of diversity or biased language - but a lot more needs to be done. More often than I'd like to admit I need to do this about my own biases or preconceptions too."


Francesca Brady“I saw an article recently about Whitney Wolfe Herd, the CEO of Bumble and the fact that she will be the youngest woman to take a company public. I also learned more about her background - she was a co-founder of Tinder but filed a lawsuit for sexual harassment and discrimination - which partly inspired her to create a dating app that put women in the driver's seat. She wrote the following in a letter attached to the IPO; it is poignant for many aspects of work and life: “The importance of a woman making the first move is not exclusive to the world of dating, romance or love. It is a power shift, giving women confidence and control."

It's amazing to have a day that we can use to promote stories like Whitney's and celebrate success from a challenging situation.

One of the biggest challenges women in tech face is the outdated misconception that women and technology aren't a good fit. Girls start hearing this when they are at school, and from my experience, it doesn't necessarily stop once women start working. So by simply starting out in the industry, I suppose I was already challenging gender stereotypes to a certain extent.

Since then, I hope that my appointment as CEO has shown that women can not only work in tech but become successful leaders. I want to challenge the notion that this sector needs ‘strong male leaders’, and inspire other women to strive towards decision making roles in the industry.”


Anna Tsartsari“While it has definitely become more inclusive over recent years, the construction industry still has a way to go when it comes to gender balance. A huge part of that is educating young girls and making them aware of the doors that are open to them – and that being female shouldn’t create barriers to what they want to do.

“The last year in particular has been even more challenging for women around the globe as they have had to cope not only with their full-time jobs and all the challenges that come with them, but also having to juggle family lives and being a teacher all at the same time. International Women’s Day is always brilliant at highlighting the amazing things women do, but this year I really hope it sees a wider celebration and recognises the multi-tasking most women manage.”


Sarah Dodsworth, Associate Director, SpaceInvader"International Women’s Day celebrates women’s ability to meet and surpass the challenges affecting our lives. In the design and construction industry where I work, for example, I would to go into meetings as a young designer and, more often than not, would be surrounded by older men. Learning to command the room was a major challenge, especially if someone was intent on belittling me. One of the big lessons I learnt was that equality is not achieved by mirroring such behaviour. Women’s emotional intelligence is all about the ability to make others feel ‘big’ around you, creating more space to grow yourself."


Uta Dresch"To me, International Women’s Day is about challenging the idea that women ‘don’t belong’ in fields that are traditionally male-dominated, like STEM subjects. When I went to University (my Masters’ was in Mathematics), my fellow students at the time were mainly men. In the beginning, I intrinsically felt that I had to work much harder to prove myself and show that my knowledge and intellect were equal to theirs. However, once it was clear that this was the case, I was accepted and regarded as a peer.

I teach IT classes for primary school-aged students and discovered that when we separated the boys from the girls, the girls learned better. I found that boys aren’t afraid to use technical terms, even if they don’t understand the meaning. The situation is quite the opposite for the girls. They assume that the boys know more as they’re more vocal about it and so are hesitant to put themselves forward. However, when taught separately, the girls were given the space to be emboldened and discuss these technical topics more openly without the risk of (subjective) embarrassment.

Therefore, International Women’s Day to me is about encouraging more girls and women to enter educational paths in STEM from a young age, helping them feel more confident in their talent, and not feeling the pressure to prove themselves. It’s about showing that women belong in STEM just as much as men do."


Munni Musa"This International Women’s Day’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge. We can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequalities and help to create a more inclusive world.

As designers of tech products, we have a responsibility to design products that benefit everyone. If we only view the user experience in one dimension, there’s a danger that the design features will only lend themselves to one type of user. For example, if gender balance is ignored when developing software, the end product could favour one gender over the other. It could be as simple as the position or design of a button.

Diversity (not just of gender, but also disability, age and cultural background) is important in the workforce as only through diversity of thought and opinion can we see a holistic perspective.

Diversity in the workplace reduces unconscious bias and creates a culture that women want to join and belong to. We can only really challenge gender bias if we reflect on our own bias, hold a mirror up to ourselves and review how we interact with other groups. Our role as leaders is to be culture champions, and be conscious of our behaviour, language and actions. Actions speak louder than words, and I feel we do that very well at Civica, creating a culture of inclusivity. But, we must all continue to challenge inequalities and choose to seek out and celebrate women across the industry."


Ismini Papachrysosto"In this modern world, women of all ages and ethnicities are facing challenges during their everyday life. I remember when I was at school, a teacher of mine asked me what I wanted to do in my life and when I explained that I want to become a programmer he laughed at me and told me: “you will never make it”! Thanks to my parents, who taught me to never give up and challenge everyone who tells me you cannot do, or your limit is. I knew at that moment he was wrong, and I will succeed. Many years later, I managed to become a developer hoping that I will never face similar issues. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Being a woman in tech was more difficult than I expected. People believe that you are not good enough to achieve what a man could do and the dream of climbing the management ladder is fading. During my career, I have had to try extremely hard to prove myself to colleagues, clients, and managers. I still remember in my early career a former colleague used to take every opportunity he could to try and belittle me and find mistakes in my code, and only after a detailed explanation would he accept it. This would have been understandable and even encouraged if he treated any other developer like this, but I was the only woman. Even though this was far from an isolated instance I would never consider giving up. Cases like this worked as motivation to learn, improve, become stronger and try harder. Recently at Love Home Swap, I have had the fortune to become a Lead Dev, this is partly due to their commitment to equal opportunities to all, and I believe partly due to my dedication and hard work in the face of everyday challenges. Challenges that not just developers but every single woman has to face. I hope that by reaching this position I can inspire other women and hopefully, no more little girls will ever be told: “you will never make it”.


Ayla Erimer - Head of Product"Gradually over the years it has become clear to me that things are not acceptable. From the boss encountered early in my career who rebuffed my request for decent pay by asking about my father’s finances, to inappropriate ‘jokes’ in the office, to the recruiter who cold called only to insist on knowing my salary history, I have begun to challenge inequity where I see it.”



Nicole Curran - UK Connect"To me, international women’s day is a day to celebrate and encourage women both professionally and personally but to also highlight that there’s still significant inequality in the world. IWD has inspired me to be proud my achievements and has given me the confidence to challenge inequality and break down gender stereotypes with the work I do as a female engineer. Knowing that there’s still inequality for women is what motivates me to better myself to become successful in my career and to become a role model for the next generation.

Being an engineer, I challenge gender stereotypes on a regular basis with the work that I do, there’s still an assumption that being a female somehow means being less able when it comes to anything technical or physical, which is simply not true. It’s the small things like carrying a ladder or using an SDS drill that are daily tasks for me, but people are still taken aback when they see me. Having been an engineer from the age of 19 I can confidently say there is more of a female presence in the world of engineering, however not so much in construction as a whole and this comes down to gender stereotypes and putting male and female in separate categories when it comes to career options. You can see the effort is now being made to try and influence young women to choose careers in STEM and in construction which is fantastic however this has only just started over the past few years. The positive changes we make now will create a diverse future and I really look forward to it."


Ewa Ambrosius L2"I think the ‘choose to challenge’ initiative is a great idea, giving International Women’s Day a focal point for 2021’s campaign, which will hopefully yield tangible results.

“For STEM-related careers, particularly in the construction and engineering sector, we need to directly challenge the persistent lack of gender diversity from boardroom to building site.

“We need more assurance from firms that there are absolutely no limitations associated with gender, you will be treated, valued, respected, rewarded and remunerated exactly the same as if you were a man.

“We have to identify those underrepresented boards in STEM-led companies, challenging them to appoint more women. It’s only through this representation at the top table that will lead to positive gender policies being implemented and enforced.

“It’s no good saying ‘we really support women’ and appointing or promoting none to senior management. Words are often empty unless accompanied by affirmative action. Hopefully, ‘choose to challenge’ will compel many businesses which still languish behind the diversity curve to reflect and make the change."


Astra Duke"International Women’s Day is a day to remind all women, especially young women, that they are valuable, powerful, and deserving of every opportunity they wish to pursue."




Daniela Streng Headshot"International Women's Day is about celebrating female trailblazers who sowed the seeds of change through courage, persistence and fearlessness, especially in male-dominated industries like tech. As the VP & General Manager, EMEA, at LogicMonitor, I hope to honour female pioneers of tech by tilting the imbalance of women in leadership roles and cementing paths for the next generation of women in tech."



Alice Young“International Women’s Day is a reminder that glass ceilings are meant to be broken; and that women are unstoppable when they remain humble by always looking for those marginal gains, are accountable for their own success, and are determined to find a way to make the right things happen.”



Jessica Quilliam“Being in a male dominated world started for me back in my school days when I chose to do Physics, Chemistry and Maths as my A level subjects. This meant I was the only girl in some of my classes. I studied Materials Engineering and Metallurgy at Birmingham University and from there went to Bodycote Heat Treatments where I was the only girl on the shopfloor. Since then I have worked my way up from Metallurgist at Ronaldsway Aircraft Company (where we make precision aerospace parts) to Operations Manager. I now run the operations side of the business on a site with approximately 200 employees.

I am not sure I ever made a conscious decision to challenge the status quo of women in engineering, I just set out to do the best I could and not let anyone tell me I couldn’t in a field that I found extremely interesting. I am exceptionally proud of the work we produce and how we help save lives by making parts for the ejector seats that save the people who risk their lives to maintain the safety of ours. I have always found our work interesting in all spheres. Being an engineer is about finding a problem resolution and achieving an end goal, none of which matters if you are female or male. Everyday is about choosing to challenge the status quo of today.”


Jessica, Bark.com“For me, International Women's Day is about reflecting on women who have been inspiring, instrumental and have achieved success in technology; celebrating all their successes and what we have all achieved. It's also a time to think about what I can do to inspire other women and girls to pursue a career in STEM."



Meera RaoAs a woman working in technology, I’m a strong believer that confidence is key. The true key to success is making sure your opinions and ideas are heard and being confident in your vision for what you want to achieve. In a field predominantly populated by men, women can defy the stereotype of what an engineer looks like by showcasing their expertise and taking a leadership role in implementing cutting-edge tools and processes. Early on in my career I realized that I needed to focus on my skills and ability to communicate effectively in order to gain the trust and respect of my colleagues. In other words, confidence and speaking skills are key to success.

It’s key to empower all voices and promote inclusion for one and all. Talking about diversity is a good start—everyone should understand that inclusivity provides many benefits within an organization. Diversity can help ensure a more productive, innovative, and creative workplace; a more respectful and positive workplace culture; and above all, employees who are happy create an organization with high employee morale. But it’s not always easy to have those conversations. We might start by having them within our own homes, our own inner circles, and then having those tough conversations at our workplace.

Being an advocate is vital no matter what position you hold in your organization. Making sure everyone in the workplace feels they are important, are able to express their ideas, and are wanted is key. When I first began travelling around the world and working with Fortune 500 companies, I struggled because I didn’t have any female role models, anyone to talk to, anyone to share my challenges or even my thoughts with. However, I was able to rely on mentors who helped me achieve my goals. That experience is why I vowed to be an advocate for women who were nervous to raise their voice, share their challenges, or speak up."


Bev Chislett, Marketing Director - SolidatusBeing in the tech industry there are misconceptions that it’s a man’s world – it absolutely has been, but there’s been huge progress. At Solidatus, we’re not only set on making sure we actively do what we can to even things out by offering internships and training to female students, we have also naturally attracted world-leading female talent. I work with some truly brilliant and dedicated female tech experts that aren’t just here because of their gender to tick a box. IWD is a testament that marks how far our industry has come, but also on a personal note, taking a moment to acknowledge that Solidatus from its inception has held this value in its fabric."


Nicky Tozer featured“To me, Choose To Challenge sets the mission for us all to analyse, question and adapt. The key here is ‘choose’ – every single one of us needs to consciously assess, and act upon the imbalances that we still encounter each day. Whether that’s becoming the youngest female CEO to take a company public with a majority female board, or the men sharing the responsibilities to help address the work/family balance issues that have been exacerbated by remote working. Choose to challenge is the platform that reminds us of the need for education and action, and the work we must all do to normalise equality at all levels.”


Keeley Crockett“International Women’s Day’ allows us to focus on encouraging young girls to be excited about careers in STEM, and provides an opportunity to highlight women role models, who can provide encouragement, share experiences and most importantly, provide mentorship. The aim is to inspire and give them the confidence to pursue careers in fields, such as computer science, where there is still a lack of diversity. This is essential as more diverse teams produce better solutions which impact society as a whole. We all have a part to play in ensuring girls believe that a career in STEM is an option – using the words of Carrie Green “I can and I will. Watch me.”


Marina Ruggieri“In my research, activities cooperation and diversity are key-resources to aim for as they result in being both valuable, lasting and human-centric. In fact, space networks and technologies are intrinsically aligned with the need for broad teams. In this frame, the ‘International Women’s Day’ initiative is a yearly reminder of the importance of being inclusive, respectful and cooperative. It is the day we measure the efforts spent throughout the past year, the unavoidable failures and the enthusiastic plans to improve and do our best to make a better world more than just a beautiful dream.”


Angela Garland“The theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘choose to challenge’ – but this is a sentiment that girls should keep in mind every day when they pursue a career in the tech industry. There is still a stark gender divide and the very act of doing this means you are choosing to challenge the status quo. My advice is keep pushing and keep challenging at every opportunity.

I’ve experienced a variety of team compositions. I’ve managed all-male teams and (while they’re a rarity in the tech industry) all-female teams too. They both come with different dynamics and different challenges. My advice to young girls thinking about a career in tech is to go for it. The most important thing is to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, speak up in large groups of men and put your ideas out there. Find an organisation that puts everyone – regardless of gender – on an equal playing field and pushes you into a role where you challenge yourself and those around you.”


Yumi Nishiyama“In my more than two decades in the industry, I’ve seen vast improvements in the number of women at the table, especially where I am now at Exabeam. It’s a two-way street, plain and simple. Women must fight to be heard, but men must also listen and give them equal opportunity. The #MeToo movement was a major catalyst in Silicon Valley in recent years -- a critical reminder to treat every colleague, regardless of gender, with the same levels of respect. It also helped reinforce the idea that you must jump to support your colleagues when they are being discriminated against, or are in danger, even if it puts your own career at risk. While there’s much work to be done, it’s been refreshing to see more females on advisory boards, leadership pages on tech company websites and on industry panels. This International Women’s Day, I want to tell aspiring technology professionals to stick to their guns, follow their passion and find a company with people who appreciate their talents rather than stifle them. It might be them in the spotlight next!”


Debra Danielson“While we’ve made progress over the past few years when it comes to increasing diversity in the industry, it’s still largely male and white. Women and minorities are either not choosing the field or are not staying in the field. Women make up between 11 and 20 percent of the global cybersecurity workforce, suggesting some progress is being made, but also that we still have a long way to equality.

We all have biases, and these societal gender roles are deeply, deeply ingrained into all of us. It’s not just men that discriminate (consciously or unconsciously) against women. Women do it too. Think about how you change the system to balance the bias. Be really clear that this isn’t giving a “leg up” to a less deserving woman (to the disadvantage of a man), but it is a way to level the field and flatten the “leg down”.

Ultimately, stop thinking that there’s something wrong with women that have to be fixed. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard that we need to “teach” women how to negotiate, how to speak up/interrupt, how to get a seat at the table, how to ask for the promotion, how to be more assertive… If you have a system that penalises women for negotiating, then don’t try and tell them that they’re underpaid because they didn’t negotiate.”


Donna Cooper“Gender equality is an issue that impacts many different people in a variety of ways.

After thousands of years of conditioning with regards to the “role” women play in society, systemic sexism has been ingrained into our psyche over a long period of time. When I look back at my career in IT industry, I can recall times where women’s ideas and opinions were dismissed only to be received positively when presented by their male counterparts; women openly criticised for “leaving their children” and “putting work first”; men promoted and awarded a higher salary over women despite having less experience and industry knowledge.

I have to believe that gender bias and inequality can be overcome but we are all responsible for making this happen. In more recent times, however, I am happy to have witnessed a groundswell of support from men who actively respond to the tacit consent of wrongdoing toward female colleagues, and there’s one organisation in particular where I know at least two men left as they were uncomfortable with its misogynistic mindset. With time and attention the issue of gender bias and inequality can be addressed with us all removing stereotypes from our language, being an advocate and ally to all women, having a flexible attitude toward those responsible for childcare, embracing diversity and - above all - being considerate toward the needs and feelings of our fellow human beings. This International Women’s Day, speak up, be bold and choose to challenge.”


Nichole Sahin"This year's International Women's Day theme, choose to challenge, perfectly captures the social changes and feelings we have witnessed over the last year. Despite the immense difficulties people across the world have faced due to the pandemic, more people than ever have come together to vie for equality and inclusion of all kinds. Choosing to challenge reminds us that we all must play a role to help create a more equal world.

This past year it was fantastic to see women championing in all walks of life. Amanda Gorman, a young 22 year old became the first poet to speak at a US Presidential inauguration, using her beautiful words to inspire people around the world. Whitney Wolfe Herd recently just became the youngest self-made billionaire and youngest female CEO to ever take a company public. And Dr. Özlem Türeci, together with her husband, is the brains behind the Pfzier Covid-19 vaccine.

It is so important that together we champion and celebrate the achievements of others - we still have a long way to go in creating a more equal world, but together is the only way we will get there. I feel incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by an executive team, which includes strong female leaders of a business, where everyone advocates for equality and inclusion."


Liz-Cook“2020 was a year of massive societal upheaval, and 2021 has begun with equally as many uncertainties. The truth is, we are still living and working in an imbalanced world. Pre-pandemic, the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report stated that globally, only 36% of senior managers and officials are women. In this new reality of pandemic uncertainty, gender imbalances have been exacerbated – a Boston Consulting Group report found that the increase in remote working has had a major impact on women, who have spent on average 15 hours more per week on domestic work during the pandemic. International Women’s Day highlights the importance of supporting women and men alike through agile working structures that level the playing field, and empower people to be the very best at what they do, no matter what their circumstances. As the People Director of a technology company, I am passionate about working every day to deliver these agile working structures that promote gender-balance and drive a better working world.”


Leane Parsons“According to TechNation, £10.1 billion was invested into UK tech companies in 2019, with employment in the sector growing by 40% in comparison to two years prior. But despite this growth, just 30% of these roles are occupied by women. I strongly believe it’s difficult to fully challenge the inequality in tech until more women are in positions of power within the industry. We continue to be led by the top, which is predominantly male, and this feeds into the existing technical landscape slanted towards male audiences.

Seeing more women in leadership roles and positions of influence will inevitably lead to more women joining the industry, as well as more girls hoping to study an IT or tech related subject at university or in an apprenticeship. This year, I #choosetochallenge gender equality in tech. Let’s encourage more girls and women to join the tech industry, so we can move from being the outliers, to having equal representation at the table."


Rajlakshmi Pandey“My world – ICT – is still thought of by many as being a man’s world. I don’t subscribe to this way of thinking. It’s a technical world, for sure, but so long as you have the technical knowledge, it’s accessible to all. And it’s not just ICT, of course. There are powerful, accomplished and successful women in all walks of life. Just look around you! Gender doesn’t come into it. 

That said, within tech, there are still a lot more men. It’s improving slowly, but there’s still a lot more to be done. To help redress the balance, companies should put in place processes and programs that actively encourage women to come forward. These include things like internship programs for university students with flexible hours to accommodate ongoing studies and allocating headcount for women in technical roles. 

I’m fortunate because I’ve been able to turn my passion for computer science, and specifically my interest in Apple iOS, into a satisfying and exciting career. I’d like everyone – men and women alike – to have similar opportunities too, and that’s why I’m an avid supporter of initiatives like International Women’s Day.”


Agata Nowakowska, Skillsoft“With this year’s theme being “choose to challenge”, it’s more important than ever to challenge gender stereotypes and bias. Unfortunately, as a result of the pandemic, workplace gender inequality has widened. Women have taken the hit over this past year, with homeschooling due to school closures or having to be furloughed to manage that task.

According to a recent report, 46% of mothers have said that a lack of childcare provision played a role in their redundancy. A recent article in The Guardian, has additionally highlighted that the government is coming under increasing pressure to commit to gender pay gap reporting as it was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. This is an extremely important issue that shouldn’t be brushed over because of economic uncertainty. If this happens, then it’s only allowing more companies to get away with gender-biased treatment.

Women of all ages and backgrounds need to come together to challenge the gender pay gap and the government needs to play its part in enforcing organisations tackle this issue head-on. Organisations should be treating all their employees fairly, no matter of gender. This year, #choosetochallenge gender pay gap reporting.”


Madelene Campos, Software Developer at BrightGauge“I first started in the tech industry about five years ago, when I made a career change from being a professional musician to software development. During this time, I’ve noticed that the amazing women I’ve had a chance to work with all tend to perform at a very high level. They are extremely thorough, detail-orientated and give 100%. In many industries, not just in tech, being taken seriously due to gender perception continues to feel like an issue. We often need to ‘prove ourselves’ more than men to show what we’re capable of. To help address this, organisations need to work with their HR teams to ensure that their employees, regardless of gender, are receiving equal pay and benefits.

We need to encourage more women to consider opting for a career in tech. Joining a support group that is inclusive and can give advice is a great way to get one’s foot in the door. There are many organisations that focus and support underrepresented groups in tech, such as PyLadies and RailsGirls. Even if women don’t want to code, there are so many other opportunities within tech. It’s important to understand that no one is born with tech skills. Learning how to solve problems, think critically and, at the very least, grow an awareness of what is happening in the tooling we use on a daily basis, is definitely worth the time and effort."


Anna Litvina, Solutions Engineer at Bitglass"Although we are seeing more women choosing a career in tech , there is definitely room for improvement. It will take time and effort to shift away from it being a historically male-dominated industry. It’s important that from a young age, girls realise there is the possibility to work in tech. It’s not something that only boys can grow up to do. We need to better educate girls and young women on the possibilities, helping to break down barriers and eliminate gender stereotypes that have been boxing us in for so long. Today, the sky’s the limit and it’s a case of exposing girls to STEM and getting them excited about a future in tech."

I think tech organisations backing and promoting women-led networking groups and communities will go a long way in supporting diversity and inclusion in the sector. Supporting women to develop professional connections is important for finding mentorship opportunities and role models in the industry. It isn’t about building a “girl’s club”, but creating a safe space for women to exchange ideas, experiences and build partnerships."


Kleopatra Kivrakidou_Ergotron"As Channel Marketing Manager EMEA at Ergotron for the past five years, I’ve had the privilege of helping individuals in the B2B industry improve their wellbeing at work and thrive in their goals. I love working alongside technology because of the agility and customisation that it gives its users; for me working comfortably with technology brings out my best self, which supports my wellbeing and confidence in the knowledge that I’m adding business value and making a difference. While it’s true that the business world is still quite a way off from achieving gender parity, more organisations now recognise the importance of diversity in the workplace, and are taking on the responsibility to attract more female talent and provide more equal opportunities for growth.

Recent global circumstances have put the spotlight on working mothers, with many organisations implementing flexible work structures to help them maintain a work-life balance during this difficult period. This includes enabling them to continue to work from home, if their personal circumstances don’t allow a return to the office, and providing the right technology and equipment to support both productive working and wellbeing. Working environments that build their success on respecting diversity, giving equal opportunities for development to all, and who trust their workforce for who they are, become, by definition, the ones where you find more women."


Caroline Seymour_Zerto (1)“International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate how far we have come together, but it is also a reminder that we need to continue to support and encourage all the young girls and women out there. When it comes to the tech industry, women are still significantly underrepresented. Technical innovation is playing a critical role in almost every industry and there are a significant number of tech positions that need filling. We need women to fill those roles. Women think differently and bring unique ideas to the table. What’s more, a diverse team can actually boost performance.

It still floors me when I read that women make nearly 20% less than men, and that they won’t reach pay equity with men until 2059. It shows an astonishingly slow pace of progress and highlights that we need to focus on equity just as much as we do equality. This desperately needs accelerating, and further proves that there is still so much work to be done. The sad reality right now is that it takes longer as a woman to gain credibility. We have to work harder at it, but the rewards are incredible.

International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to bring these problems to light, but it cannot be a one day issue. It requires continuous work and cultivation. To those entering - or wanting to enter - the tech industry, I would say go for it with everything you have. Be confident. A common mistake when looking at a job description is thinking that you have to have all the experience outlined. Believe me, you don’t - no one does. If the role looks interesting and you believe in yourself, go for it and don’t hold back. Enjoy the journey and give yourself nothing to regret - even if it is a bumpy ride at times.”


CHRISTINA KOSMOWSKI“International Women’s Day is about amplifying the voices of female trailblazers, especially those that aren’t traditionally heard, so that their accomplishments can be celebrated and serve as inspiration for new generations.”



YAELA SHAMBERG“A conversation that remains front of mind is the perpetual drive for balance and gender equality in all levels of business. In my business, I’m looking for women at advisory businesses, technology shops, and in the leadership ranks. This International Women’s Day offers a chance for every organization to ask themselves - what should we be doing to attract and grow more female talent, top-to-bottom, in our ranks?

Often times women don’t advocate loudly enough for themselves and many have family responsibilities that mean the path to success can’t be a traditional single lane highway. This is a dynamic and ever changing world, and with it, needs to come ways in which we seek out, attract, mentor, grow, challenge and support women.

I’m proud to say that at InvestCloud, six of our seven business lines are run by women, and we have amazing women all over the c-suite as well as throughout the organization. That being said, we strive every day to be better, to be dynamic, to challenge ourselves and be open to all the voices that help give us balance and drive our success. And this year I challenge all of you to start doing the same.”


Frances McLeod"When I started out in investment banking in the 1980s, the gender disparity was incredibly stark; out of 150 professionals in my department, only four were women. This ultimately created a male-centric culture in which the women felt we needed to blend in with our male counterparts and adopt their approach in order to be successful. As a female founder of a company whose leadership is heavily female, International Women’s Day reminds me just how far we’ve come but also how much work there is still to do to ensure that women are given and are able to take opportunities to become leaders. Women now have the freedom to develop their own voices and approaches and make themselves heard in the workplace, and we have seen the benefits of this in the white collar world, where there has been an upsurge in collegiate spirit amongst women. Unfortunately, the compliance sector is still lagging behind in terms of gender bias, but we are challenging this through boosting female representation in top positions in our own firm and then driving collaboration between female-only, female-led and ally-led teams in legal firms and corporates."


Fiona Maini"International Women’s Day (IWD) is an annual reminder to celebrate women’s achievements and emphasize the critical need for equality and parity within society. We know across all walks of life the benefits of diverse collaborations, inclusion and fairness. IWD is not just an important day in our calendars every year but a mission we should all highlight and practice every day as a continuum. Just within the clinical research industry we are starkly aware of the benefits of inclusion of diverse groups - the participation of women, racial and ethnic minorities help researchers find better treatments to diseases that are effective within all communities."


Isobel Broderick"I have never thought of myself as a 'woman in construction'. I just see myself as someone who is passionate about, and loves, her job, and who enjoys working on site and seeing a project progress. I learn something new every day. Gender doesn’t affect ability, loving what you do or being able to acquire new skills and technical knowledge. Every day is an exciting one in my job role and the industry that I'm in."



Julie Chapman“International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements that have been made in the past and the present, and look to the future to ensure that we create an inclusive environment that everyone can flourish.

“This year being #ChooseToChallenge reminds us that we all play a part in creating the inclusive environment we live in and we must be brave to challenge behaviour that goes against this.

“This past year, more than ever before, has really challenged women in the workplace, where they are juggling home schooling with work meetings and deadlines. But by being flexible and providing an environment to support our team members that face this challenge, have ensured that we continue to deliver our targets, despite these challenges faced.”


Anna Chung"Never stop challenging the labels: It’s so easy to fall for the myth that you have to fit some kind of traditional mold to be able to go for technology roles - that there’s a specific set of experiences, behaviours and skills you need. Any individual, regardless of gender, is greater than any label; we’ve all got great potential to enrich or even completely redefine them. If working in technology interests you, just be yourself!

Challenge yourself: We all want to see our workplaces and society as a whole continue to improve diversity and inclusion, but these improvements won’t happen if we don’t actively pursue it. It’s so important to make time to engage with others, ask questions, learn and celebrate diversity. Opening yourself up and taking action is the first step in making yourself part of the changes you want to see in the world.  

Pick your challenges: There’s no predetermined path you have to follow or one ‘right way’ of getting there. Pick the challenges that interest you rather than those that are imposed on you. And always remember to take time out to be kind to yourself."


Carla Baker“There’s no doubt the technology sector is changing. Ten years ago I would be one of perhaps two or three women at a cybersecurity event, and while this is changing and there’s more ethnic and gender diversity now, I think we still have a long way to go.

“I wouldn’t describe myself as a traditional techie, but I understand technical concepts. Finding a role in this sector isn’t all purely about coding and hacking - there really is a diverse range of opportunities requiring an array of different skills. 

“I’ve been supported by building relationships with other women in technology throughout my career. Let’s keep inspiring the next generation to get stuck in, but also offering our time to mentor those already in the industry - supporting each other and challenging the status quo.


Hannah Wright“We need to acknowledge that there still aren’t many women in senior leadership positions in the technology industry. If you are one, give your time. Be there to support other women and give them the confidence and, critically, the flexibility to explore their interests and future development.

“Every man in this industry has a female relative or friend. We need your help too. Talk about what you do, help others understand there are so many opportunities out there open to them. Help us share that working in technology isn’t just about coding away in a darkened room.

“Don’t be put off by having never worked in technology before either - there are so many transferable skills we look for. I’m a biogeochemist by training but got my first job in IT through a temping agency, pre-internet age. We constantly look out for people we could hire from completely different industries that can demonstrate great results; then we just help them learn to talk about cybersecurity."


International Women’s Day, Vanessa Vallely & Danny Wicks event featured

08/03/2021: International Women’s Day #choosetochallenge - What’s yours? | Danny Wicks & Vanessa Vallely OBE

International Women’s Day, Vanessa Vallely & Danny Wicks event

Join Vanessa Vallely OBE and Danny Wicks for International Women’s Day.

We will cover the barriers for women in the workplace, male allies, pay gap, women on boards & the importance of women’s networks. #choosetochallenge


About Danny:

Danny WicksDanny spent the vast majority of his career as a mergers & acquisitions and business restructuring specialist.

In recent years, Danny has been pivotal in the restructuring of the UK’s largest bank and also leading the strategic change for one of the UK’s largest property companies.

He is a qualified Executive Coach and with his tenacious approach he specialises in guiding leaders at pace through the strategic change of their business.

Danny has a passion to get the best out of people and enable them to reach their own personal and professional goals.

About Vanessa:

Vanessa is one of the UK’s most well-networked women and has provided keynotes on on a variety of career related topics for over 500 companies worldwide. Vanessa is also one of the UK’s most prominent figures in gender equality and often provides guidance and consultancy to both government and corporate organisations who are seeking to attract, develop and retain their female talent. Vanessa was awarded her OBE in June 2018 for her services to women and the economy.

At the height of her successful 25 year career in the financial services, Vanessa launched the award winning WeAreTheCity.com in 2008 as a vehicle to help women progress in their careers. WeAreTheCity.com now has over 120,000 members and provides resources/conferences/awards/jobs to women across the UK. Vanessa is the also the -founder of UK wide diversity forum Gender Networks. Gender Networks (formerly The Network of Networks) brings together diversity leaders from 85 cross sector firms to share best practice on a quarterly basis.

Vanessa is also the author of the book “Heels of Steel: Surviving and Thriving in the Corporate World” which tracks her career and shares 13 chapters of tips to succeed in the workplace.

Over the past ten years, she has been named Women in Banking & Finance’s Champion for Women, Financial News Top 100 Rising Star, The International Alliance for Women Top 100 Women globally & Brummells Top 30 London Entrepreneurs. In 2015 Vanessa was in GQ UK’s Top 100 Connected Women and the Evening Standard’s 1000 Most Influential Londoners. Vanessa is a regular guest on TV and radio and also sits on the Government Digital Services advisory board.

Vanessa is also the Pearly Queen of The City of London, a tradition that has been in her family for over 100 years. She is an avid charity worker and sits on the board for for Cancer Research UK as one of its Women of Influence. Vanessa also sits on the Cententary Action Group founded by Dr Helen Pankhurst.

Keynotes and workshops include The Power of Profile, The Power of Mentoring, Speed Networking, Speed Mentoring, plus her Excel your Career workshop. Vanessa is also available as a panelist, facilitator and leadership development programme host. All talks can be tailored towards specific audiences.

Looking for more events or networking opportunities? WeAreTechWomen has a dedicated events calendar with thousands of different events to help broaden your network and learn new skills. We have also launched WeAreVirtual - a series of free webinars to help expand your learning online. 

Don’t forget, you can also sign up to our bi-weekly newsletter to keep up-to-date with our upcoming events and webinars. 

Peakon, International Women's Day event featured

08/03/2021: International Women's Day with Peakon - How we're choosing to challenge

Peakon IWD event

Join us and our panel of experts for an engaging hour to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), where we will share interesting insights from our data on diversity, equity and inclusion, and discuss this year’s IWD theme of “Choose To Challenge.”

We'll be joined by industry leaders across the world, who will be adding their insights and answering your hard-hitting questions!


Looking for more events or networking opportunities? WeAreTechWomen has a dedicated events calendar with thousands of different events to help broaden your network and learn new skills. We have also launched WeAreVirtual - a series of free webinars to help expand your learning online. 

Don’t forget, you can also sign up to our bi-weekly newsletter to keep up-to-date with our upcoming events and webinars.