Business inequality, gender gap vector concept with man at advantage. Symbol of discrimination, different opportunity, unequal treatment. salary. Eps10 illustration.

Why we need to focus on equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome

Article by Fereshta Qayumi, Senior Health Care Consultant at Gemserv

Business inequality, gender gap vector concept with man at advantage. Symbol of discrimination, different opportunity, unequal treatment. salary. Eps10 illustration.Like many women, I’ve had to navigate discrimination and bias throughout my personal and professional life.

Growing up within a minority group in a small town in Holland, I came to understand bias from a young age. When I moved to the UK in my early teens, this bias didn’t disappear, however; it merely shifted focus from race to gender. While the UK is, in many ways, a liberal country, there is still a long way to go when it comes to presenting equal opportunities to all.

Pursuing a career in STEM

I was interested in healthcare from an early age and wanted to pursue a career that allowed me to give back to society. For me, it’s really important to know your values and to reflect that in the work that you do, so I signed up to study a clinical degree in Radiography, before going on to study for a Master’s Degree in International Health Management at Imperial College Business School in London.

Through my studies and work placements, I came to recognise that the health service had significant structural issues that were hindering its workforce from delivering to the best of their ability. Intent on making a difference, I left my front-line health care role to pursue consulting.

When I made the jump from clinical work to consulting, it didn’t escape my attention that I shifted from a very female dominated environment into a predominately male one. While both roles sit within the same industry, the division in roles was stark. In some consulting firms, having less women in the business created an unwelcoming air of competitiveness between female colleagues. It seemed as if we were competing amongst ourselves for limited places, rather than working towards opportunities that were open to anyone who was qualified for the role.

Defining success on our own terms

Modern feminism should be about celebrating equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. In the western world in particular, we use men as a baseline for what success looks like, inferring that women need to take on typically masculine roles to be considered successful. As women, we shouldn’t be boxing ourselves into this pre-conceived idea of success, but playing to our strengths and encouraging others to do the same.

It’s important to emphasise that creating equality of opportunity for women does not mean dragging men down in the process. We need to be careful how we build on these concepts and ideologies, or the cycle will never end and no true progress will be made.

To effect real change, we need to move away from labels to level the playing field. Celebrating progress should not be about “women’s” or “man’s” day, but about measuring how far we’ve come as humans, as a collective. Performance should be the benchmark, not an individual’s gender, race or age.


How the tech industry and digital transformation can champion diversity and inclusion | Genefa Murphy

DiversityMicro Focus CMO Genefa Murphy has experienced many twists and turns on her journey to become chief marketing officer to one of the world’s top 10 enterprise software companies.

Here she talks about the state of play for diversity in the technology sector, the role digital transformation can play in creating a working environment where inclusion, diversity and belonging can thrive and the experiences that have shaped her own career path.

The technology industry, the pioneers, the inventors, the early adopters. In many ways the technology industry is ahead of the game – forging forward faster than many other sectors in terms of developing new solutions, new approaches and new talent. It is undeniable that inclusion and diversity, including the role of women in leadership, is finally having its moment in the tech spotlight, with the CEO of Oracle, executive chairman of IBM and the CEOs of YouTube, PagerDuty, TaskRabbit plus many more tech giants all being female. However, despite this progress, there is still more work to do. While it’s great to see more companies being transparent and embracing the broader inclusion and diversity agenda as well as being open and honest about what they are doing to support the cause, the fact remains that in many cases a person’s gender, race or sexual orientation is the descriptor that defines them – not their skills or capabilities. This is particularly acute amongst the underrepresented minorities who still have to fight harder and longer to attain equality.

The tech industry and tech employers have a huge opportunity to be beacons of best practice when it comes to inclusion and diversity. So much of our lives centre on the digital age that tech employers can “lend their privilege” – to borrow a phrase from fellow tech leader Anjuan Simmons – to the wider community and the broader markets to help further the agenda.

In that context, digital transformation also presents another major opportunity. Digital transformation by its very nature opens borders, diversifies candidate pools and helps bring a broader variety of talent to the table, because jobs are no longer dependent on location but on access. Social prejudices often prevalent in face to face encounters are replaced with digital “anonymous” exchanges, and artificial intelligence done right can help organisations remove biases from tasks such as candidate screening. By embracing this and making diversity and inclusion – or broader social responsibility – a core part of who a company is, employers have the opportunity to create a more empathetic, transparent workforce and a working environment where inclusion, diversity and belonging can thrive. This in turn can become the starting point for a highly successful overall strategy. After all, as research will tell us, the organisations that can create brand intimacy which is built on relationships of reciprocity can expect their customers to be more loyal and they can develop more price resiliency.

My own career path to the C-Suite has taken many twists, turns and stops along the way. Yet with each opportunity I have been able to learn a new skill, see opportunities through a different lens and gain additional perspectives. That variety of role at different levels and the importance of taking next steps which were lateral as well as more senior have been my guiding principles when looking for my next role or opportunity. My goal was never to make it to the C-suite. It was to be the best at my job and develop a rounded backlog of experiences, perspectives and relationships that I could call upon to complete the tasks at hand, whether they were small or large. I wanted to be able to earn the seat at the table and know that I earned it through hard work and determination, and then use that knowledge to add value so that even when others may have doubted me, I could believe in myself. That’s why I purposefully picked roles which were adjacent to one other: from a researcher completing my PhD to a consultant so that I could shift from learning about technology to implementing it; from a consultant to product manager so that I could turn theory into reality and create instead of implement; from a product manager to a marketer so that I could learn how to connect with customers through words and creative story-telling instead of the technology alone.

One common theme throughout all the roles I have taken to get to the C-suite is the importance of relationships and building a network. It is that network, and making every twist and turn – whether good or bad – into an opportunity to learn, be better, adapt and create my own personal approach that has made me who I am and gotten me to where I am today. Yet there is still more to go, more to learn and many more winding roads to travel.

About the author

Genefa MurphyGenefa Murphy is the chief marketing officer for Micro Focus, one of the world’s top 10 enterprise software companies. The role provides a unique position to work across Micro Focus’ 40,000 global customers and partners who face the challenge of being able to run and transform their business.

In her role, Genefa and team define the narrative for Micro Focus in the market, and represent the voice of the customer back into the organisation; influencing product direction, Go-To-Market (GTM) models, and ensuring Micro Focus provides its customers with a unique and prescriptive point of view on how to address the challenges of today’s hyper competitive market. As CMO, Genefa is also responsible for ensuring the success of Micro Focus’s own Digital Transformation – helping the company to make the technology selections that will enable Micro Focus to advance its own engagement with customers.

Genefa has more than 12 years’ experience across various disciplines in the field of technology from consulting, to product management and strategy. Previously, Genefa was the global vice president of corporate marketing and enablement. Genefa holds a BSc in Business IT and a PhD in New Technology Adoption.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here. 


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Four steps to creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce

By Vijayanta Gupta, Global VP, Product & Industry Marketing, Sitecore

three women in tech working on laptops, gender diversityWhile the tech industry has taken strides in encouraging diversity and inclusion in recent years, the lack of representation of certain groups still needs to be addressed.

Recent research from McKinsey found that companies with diverse workforce have unlocked greater profitability and value creation, resulting in 33 per cent higher revenues.

The greater variety in background, thoughts, and experiences provides unique ideas that lead to more effective decisions being reached. People with different backgrounds and experiences often see the same issue in different ways and come up with a variety of solutions, increasing the odds that one of those could be the right fit for the business. They are also able to understand and have a better view of the different audiences an organisation is looking to reach. In a fast-changing ever-competitive environment, such responsiveness leaves businesses of all sizes and across all industries better equipped to adapt and succeed. Furthermore, research suggests that having a strong diversity and inclusion strategy can help your organisation attract top talent. So, what better motivation for companies to adopt such policies than clear ROI and employing the brightest people in the industry?

In recent years, organisations have tended to focus efforts on encouraging demographic diversity and embracing employees and teams from different races, ethnicities and genders. We have made some progress, though there’s still a lot more to be done. To fully maximise the benefits of diversity, businesses in the technology sector and beyond must now focus on a parameter of diversity that most likely doesn’t get enough attention. They need to look beyond diversity in terms of physical or visible traits and achieve cognitive diversity.

While one may think that having a large, expanded network would automatically help build diversity, In his book Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking, Matthew Syed discusses diversity as having a paradoxical property, meaning that when people are part of broader communities, they’re likely to form narrow networks of like-minded people. He further argues that despite its promise of inclusion and interconnection, the internet has created highly cohesive groups “linked not by kin or clan, but by ideological fine sorting”. Therefore, the whole concept of cognitive diversity can become problematic and difficult but not impossible to achieve, if we take conscious and meaningful steps to do so.

Let’s dive in deeper into what we mean by cognitive diversity and the type of measures companies should put in place in order to achieve it.

Embracing cognitive diversity

Achieving cognitive diversity means creating a workforce that includes a plurality of mindsets and outlooks. Building teams and organisations that are cognitively diverse starts with hiring people with a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and upbringings, as they will bring different life experiences and perspectives to the business, and therefore enrich the discussion and decision-making processes.

It is also important to embrace neurodiversity within the workforce, including employing more people with ADHD, dyslexia or autism, for example. This further encourages diversity of thought and provides a different approach to overcoming challenges and making business decisions.

Once a diverse team is in place, companies must create an environment where everyone is listened to, respected and taken into consideration. This is to ensure that everyone feels empowered to share their views and opinions even if they sit within junior teams or have opposing solutions to senior management. When all team members believe that their ideas and opinions matter, are considered and the company understands that difference strengthens the business and isn’t something that should be changed or supressed, businesses will thrive.

Finally, steps must also be taken to ensure that decisions, at any and every level, are being made based on the opinion and perspectives of everyone involved. Beyond simply listening to what everyone has to say, business strategy and plans must reflect the knowledge that everyone within the business brings to the table.

Laying the right foundation

As well as creating diverse teams and workforces within tech companies, the industry also has a responsibility to ensure there is a more diverse pipeline and talent pool being developed through education. With only 3% of female A-Level students considering a career in technology as their first choice, there is a lot of work to be done to make careers within the technology sector more appealing to young women.

Tech companies can help by doing more work at a grassroots level, encouraging both girls and boys from a variety of backgrounds to study STEM subjects at GCSE level, A-Level and as degree choices. Going into school and universities to encourage young people to enter the industry or offering them work experience, internships or graduate schemes, where students can get first-hand experience of the industry, are effective ways to bring awareness of tech-sector careers to those who may have not otherwise have considered one.

Addressing gender disparities

Encouraging girls to enter STEM sectors at an early age is one way to overcome the gender imbalance which is still an issue within the industry, as shown by the Office for National Statistics which found that women account for only 16.8% of the UK’s tech sector workforce. However, when you consider research from PwC , which found that only 5% of leadership roles in the industry are held by women, more needs to be done to address this imbalance and support women so once they are in the industry, they too can climb the career ladder.

One way to redress this balance is to put more measures in place to support women to continue to advance their careers throughout various life stages, such as offering competitive maternity packages and support when returning to the workplace. Getting back to work after maternity leave can be overwhelming, so making sure that new mothers feel supported and valued as they re-enter their career is essential. While this has been improving, particularly in the technology industry, it remains an issue with one in four women in 2019 facing a skills gap that prevented them from returning to work after having children. Furthermore, new mothers may feel pressured and torn between their careers and home life, as they are often perceived to be unable to do both to their full potential  with two thirds being the primary carers for their children as well as working full time.

Formal training and programmes to upskill women in new or updated skills that they may have missed out on whilst on maternity, would not just make them feel more comfortable in their abilities at work more quickly, but would also be beneficial for the success of the business in the long run.

Ensuring an unrestricted recruitment process

Finally, employers must make efforts to expand the recruitment process and talent pool to get access to more talent from across different areas.

To do so, HR and recruitment teams should consider more applicants from non-traditional backgrounds and experiences, which may not have been looked at in the past. For example, those without university degrees may not have the qualifications often required for technical roles, but could have transferrable skills gained through other work or life experiences, which can be easily adapted to suit a role.

Secondly, with home working becoming more prevalent due to the pandemic, the potential recruitment opportunities will also widen. For example, those with diverse skill sets and backgrounds who would have otherwise discounted certain roles due to unfeasible commutes will now be added to the talent pool. However, in order to ensure this approach works for both organisations and employees, businesses need to create an inclusive environment. Being sensitive to employee’s personal and family needs is a crucial, for example, an employee may have an elderly family member to care for or a child that needs dropping to nursery during traditional working hours. Therefore, being inclusive about individual needs will not only attract a diverse talent pool, but boost employee/employer trust.

Lastly, it is key that HR and people teams have undergone unconscious bias training so that when they interview candidates, they don’t discount someone because they unconsciously look for people like themselves, and therefore dismiss those that do not.

In conclusion, addressing diversity and inclusion within the workplace has been on the agenda for businesses for some time. While we cannot deny that some progress has been made, there is still a lot more work that needs to be done. From putting recruitment policies in place, to introducing training programmes for all employees and taking part in grassroots activities such as university career fairs, we must all continue to develop and improve to truly create a diverse industry. There is so much that is yet to be done which goes far beyond the conventional box-ticking exercise or using diversity as a source of competitive advantage. Diversity and inclusion must be seen and treated as an on-going process which always has room for improvement.


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2021: The great leveller for women in the workplace

gender equality, gender balanceIs this the year where women can finally crack the glass ceiling and take advantage of the same work opportunities as men?

Emma Maslen explores.

A new digital workplace

Over the previous year, the UK has witnessed a steep rise in the number of people working from home, with a recent survey suggesting as much as 86 percent of workers have utilised their personal office during the pandemic. Globally, firms have been forced to adapt to their employees working remotely and have had to manage their workloads around multiple lockdowns and social distancing.

These changes have altered the workplace landscape for the majority of individuals, but it is worth pointing out how it is specifically impacting professional women. The shift to an all digital “office” experience has in many ways helped to level the playing field, most notably for those women who find themselves in a position of child or family care. Working from home offers flexibility, which can allow for frequent breaks to tend to the wellbeing of their family, while never being too far from their ability to be productive. Work hours don’t have to be exactly 9 to 5, but can often be flexed around all parts of the day.

Possible concerns over the new normal

It has been pointed out by some that the overall strain that this pandemic has put on many businesses has perhaps actually limited access to the relatively few opportunities that had even existed before. Detractors worry that there will be less hiring, less promotion, less overall turnover, so how is there now more room to get ahead? Another complaint towards the modern working situation is that despite being more flexible, it also leads to a sense of being “always on.” This certainly goes beyond gender, but can absolutely have a harsh psychological impact on parents or those with other household obligations.

More optimistically, many feel that it is exactly because of this shift towards both digital workspaces, as well as changes in culture, that could overcome the current limitations in the long run, and allow for 2021 and beyond to be a time where women truly can break the glass ceiling.

Growing inclusivity

As mentioned, working from home offers flexibility and autonomy, which could be attractive to working mothers and women tasked with family care. This stands to not only be a convenience to those who already have a career and family on their plate, but means women don’t need to choose between one or the other. Plus, time previously spent on commuting or traveling on-site can now be replaced by quality time with the family.

Furthermore, the digital landscape stands to help bring in a new type of “meritocracy” to much of the work being done. If a woman can deliver quality work on time, while tending to their family simultaneously, what concern is it of their employer?

Even inside the home, this shift in perspective could bring some levelling to the landscape of relationship dynamics. The idea of one partner being homemaker while the other leaves to work has far less meaning if both partners are working from home anyway. This will hopefully help encourage behaviors that see both partners, regardless of gender, taking on a more even amount of homecare, while still working to generate income. This balanced support is what many proponents feel will smooth out the constant desire for modern professionals to be constantly in work mode.

Lastly, a growing rise in programmes that enable inclusivity should mean that women have a more equally weighted voice inside of their organisation. Setting up inclusive forums where women can voice their ideas, concerns, and find support and acceptance is essential for more productive conversations. These forums should of course not be limited to women, but simply be a space where male-dominated opinions aren’t the only narratives being entertained.

A new balance in the technology industry

Currently, the technology industry is heavily male-dominated, with only 16.4 percent female employees represented in the UK. Traditionally, most companies have been slow in carrying out initiatives that establish diversity forums like the one outlined above. It has, however, been observed that the global crisis may be greatly accelerating developments across both of these areas.

The growing demand for digital jobs should ensure that “hard skills” like coding and user interface design won’t be going anywhere soon, and initiatives encouraging young women towards these fields are being increasingly embraced. We are also likely to see a greater call for employees with “soft skills,” such as collaboration and emotional intelligence. By encouraging the development of proficiency across a variety of skill-sets and eliminating cultural aversions to outdated gender roles, women stand to perhaps benefit the most, but all employees would likely find their work relationships becoming healthier.

There is no denying we have many obstacles still ahead of us, but we’ve also never had a time of such opportunity. The challenges affecting the workplace and the technology industry have really only begun, so there has never been a better time to lean into change. If employers continue to accept these new points of view, then professional women have a lot to be optimistic about in 2021.

About the author

Emma MaslenEmma Maslen has recently been appointed as the Vice President and General Manager at Ping Identity for the EMEA and APAC region. She is a senior technology leader who has 20 plus years of experience in the industry. Before joining Ping Identity, Emma became the CEO and founder of ‘inspir’em’ in November 2019, an executive coaching and training firm for both startups and individuals. Prior to which she has worked for multiple big names in technology like SAP Concur, BMC Software and Sun Microsystems in business management and commercial sales roles.

Emma is also an adviser to startups and an angel investor since the past three years, often through the female founder network Angel Academe, she has a portfolio of eight companies. She is working as an ambassador for Tech London Advocates for their ‘women in tech’ initiative.


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Equal Pay Day 2020: What the pay gap looks like for women

mind-the-gap-ethnicity-pay-gap-featuredToday, officially marks Equal Pay Day 2020 in the UK - the day in the year where women effectively start working for free.

The gender pay gap in the UK has been steadily closing, with the ONS stating that the average gender pay gap among all workers has decreased from 17.4 per cent to 15.5 per cent in the last year. For those in full-time employment, the gender pay gap has dropped to 7.4 per cent for the first time in over two decades. Aside from women generally being underrepresented in senior roles across all trades and industries, other reasons for the wage disparity include women working in lower-paid jobs and being more likely to work part-time as they shoulder the majority of childcare responsibilities.

Fifty years on from the Equal Pay Act 1970, the gender pay gap is at a record low, with Equal Pay Day having moved six days later in the year, compared to 14th November in 2019. In light of this, Dickies Workwear has explored the best regions for women seeking careers in engineering.

Defying Gender Stereotypes

Women continue to break down stereotypes within male-dominated industries - such as construction, agriculture, manufacturing and engineering - taking on roles they wouldn’t have been able to in the past. As a result, the number of women working in skilled trades has begun to increase steadily.

Women in STEM

Women are still under-represented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sectors, while the STEM gender pay gap continues to be quite large in comparison to other industries. Despite this, research from Dickies Workwear reveals Scotland is the number 1 region in the UK for women pursuing careers in engineering, followed by the East Midlands and London.

Best Regions for Women in Engineering

  1. Scotland
  2. East Midlands
  3. London
  4. Wales
  5. North East
  6. West Midlands
  7. North West
  8. South West
  9. Yorkshire & The Humber
  10. South East

There are few engineering businesses in the North (six in total), and women generally have the potential to earn more working in the North West, rather than the North East, in these businesses. Due to lower house prices and cost of living, however, the North East remains the better choice between the two.

The South East is the worst choice for women pursuing a career in engineering, with a small number of engineering businesses (nine) and a high average general weekly cost of living (£565.80).


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.

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Why we need to encourage women in STEM

Bethan Gawthorne, Servitor Developer at Civica

Beginning my journey

women in computing, teacher, STEMI have always enjoyed computers. When I was at school, we had a few teachers who would open the computer room for us at lunchtime, so we were able to go in and practice using software. I used to spend as many lunch breaks as I could in there playing around with different programmes and developing my tech skills whilst having fun. I’ve had a number of jobs since leaving school, but it was my position at a customer helpdesk that prompted me to formalise my computing skills.

I kicked off my career by obtaining my European Computer Driver Licence (a basic PC course), before getting my degree at The Open University. From there, I secured a job at my local council providing technical support on a specific Civica provided system. After a few years learning the business landscape, I applied for a job at Civica to learn how to develop and manage software applications.

Developing personally and professionally

I would say my greatest professional achievement to date is building the GDPR solution within our Servitor Housing Repairs product. I was heavily involved in both the design and development of the module. The end result was a flexible module that gives the customer a holistic view of their data.

There has been challenges along the way, the biggest of which has been my self-doubt and insecurities. This is why I think it’s vital for women to encourage other women in the workplace. Every year Civica celebrates women in the workplace by marking International Women’s Day and highlighting some of the inspiring female leaders within the business. This helps give us visibility of all the women doing fantastic work in a setting that we can relate to, and with people we know.

I also got involved with the #oneofthemillion campaign run by WISE, which aims to raise awareness of women working in STEM to young girls looking to get into the same industries. I signed up to be a role model, sharing information about my role and the path I took to get there. I’m hoping this will empower young girls to feel confident to pursue a degree or career in STEM.

Diversity allows creativity to flourish

At Civica, we have hugely diverse tech teams which means we all think differently, bringing various ideas to the table. Being able to discuss these ideas with other people and combining them to build something new and unique motivates me. It’s important to enjoy the work you do: it’s complex and there will be days when you make limited progress, but if you enjoy it then no challenge will be impossible.

Women shouldn’t feel like the only way into tech is via traditional routes. I got my degree through The Open University by studying on evenings and weekends whilst working full time. Traditional learning institutions are not for everybody, so I encourage women to get creative, speak to those that inspire you and reach out in different ways – people are always more willing to help than you think.


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To achieve gender equality, we need to change the narrative and fight emotional biases with emotional responses

 Article by Hala Zeine, Chief Product Officer at Celonis

gender equality, gender balanceDespite diversity campaigns, International Women’s Day and women's quotas, women are still in the minority within the IT sector, and sometimes even a rarity.

In fact, the pace at which diversity is improving in the IT sector is far too slow. And that is due to our own old-fashioned thinking.

In 2010, I sat in a corporate diversity training session. I was seven months pregnant with my second child and one of only two female executives in a room full of male executives mostly over the age of 50. I remember in my meeting one of the male executives complaining that when he invested in women, they all got pregnant and didn’t come back, and that in his experience women were really not good at maths. In 2020, the same concerns can still be heard echoing all around the world. In fact, the numbers are showing that 10 years of gender diversity training has not changed this mentality. In the UK, just 16% of jobs in the tech sector are filled by women. In fact, that number has decreased since 2018 – so we’re actually not making progress.

Rational thinking does not seem to break the vicious cycle, as gender diversity advocates are already frequently highlighting the many studies that show how organisations with strong female leaders enjoy improved culture, financial results and increased levels of innovation. One would think that this underscores the importance of growing the proportion of women in IT. And frankly, Europe also has little choice. There is a huge shortage of IT personnel and as the current pandemic has shown, the tech sector is more important than ever. So, again rationally, it's only logical that companies need to focus more and more on diversity and increasing the involvement of the female half of the population in the sector. With only men, we simply won't have enough workers in the future.

I have experienced for myself what the 'female touch' can bring in an IT environment. And I'm not talking about including a few women in a workforce. I believe that an organisation can only reap the benefits of this female touch when a there is a significant portion of women across every level of seniority. Only then does the dynamic start to change and you really notice the effects of diversity. I've worked in leadership teams where I was the only woman, but I've also worked in teams where more than 15% were women. And the difference is there: from the capacity to innovate to the financial results. Without a doubt.

I believe we need to drop the rational argument and focus on the emotional argument combined with hard facts. One way to do this is to grow the profiles of all the great women who revolutionised science (Hilde Levi, Lisa Meitner, Dorothy Hodgkin, to name a few) and the many great female modern day leaders (Diane Greene, co-founder of VMWare; Susan Wojcicki of YouTube; and SAP’s Adaire Fox-Martin). The prominence of these figures in media will help change perception. In movies, literature and our use of pronouns, we need to introduce “she – the CEO.”

In addition, we need decisive moves such as one from the CEO of Goldman Sachs, who announced that he would not launch any start-ups until at least one female board member had been appointed. I also see setting a women's quota as a step in the right direction. It continues to be a rare event in Europe (only 5% of FTSE 250 companies have female CEOs). I think we of course have to continue to hire the best candidate, but it is not rational to assume that women make up 50% of the workforce but rarely achieve leadership positions.

Meanwhile, we as women will also have to let go of the emancipated image of 'wanting to do it all alone'. My honest advice to women who want to pursue a career in the IT sector is not to do it alone. Choose, and work together with, a partner who helps you. It's not for nothing that the saying was true for men: behind every great man is a greater woman. The same goes for women: it's not wrong to have the help or support of a man. Create a network of men and women who believe in you and help you take the next step. Then the time will come when the value of your 'female touch' will be seen by an organisation and you can take the step up. Eventually, I hope there will come a time when it's no longer necessary to celebrate women's performance and value with days like International Women’s Day - no matter how important and valuable now.


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

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Narrowing the gender equality gap within industrial cyber security industry

By Galina Antova, co-founder and chief business development officer at Claroty 

gender equality, gender balanceWe are currently seeing ample evidence that nation-state adversaries are targeting critical infrastructure sectors, such as water, electricity, transportation etc., around the globe.

For example, at the end of April, Israel reported that there had been a large-scale attempt at a critical infrastructure attack against its national water supply. All of this infrastructure is essential to operations that keep a country running and therefore valuable to attackers, and it is likely we’ll see more attacks as a form of economic warfare to advance geopolitical agendas in the near future.

That said, the operational technology (OT) networks that this infrastructure runs on has a lot of catching up to do to reach the IT cyber security landscape. They are about 25 years apart due to the majority of OT running on legacy networks that in the past have been unconnected and standalone entities. They are now becoming connected; however, this connectivity brings with it an abundance of risks that the industry has not had to worry about in the past.

Bridging the gender gap in the industrial cyber security sector

In order to close the cyber security gap between IT and OT, a number of companies specialising in industrial cyber security, ourselves included, have stepped onto the scene in recent years.

But there is also another gap that needs closing – the gender gap.

While the challenge exists in employing women in the technology sector in general, there is an extra consideration in the industrial cyber security sector as it tends to not only involve technology and cyber, but also automation engineering, which traditionally has been a male domain.

The lack of female representation in this space is prominent right across the board, from executives leading the industrial cyber security initiatives in large corporations, to OT engineers in the field. Securing industrial control systems as well as driving wider digitalisation initiatives require a great deal of collaboration between different parts of the organisation. Women (as a group, not individual members) tend to be better at driving consensus and enabling collaboration, so I think the lack of adequate female representation is particularly relevant to this aspect of our industry.

The opportunity for women

Despite the exponential progress made in the last few decades, we are still very far from true equality. And there will not be true equality until women and men have equal power.

Based on my experience, two things are key to narrowing the gender gap, both in the industrial cybersecurity sector, and further afield: Addressing unconscious biases, and having the gatekeepers of power structure open the door and invite more women in.

I am involved in a number of initiatives, from mentoring female founders to working with women executives in our industry to address the gap in diversity – one being All Raise, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the diversity in funders and founders in tech. However, there are some key steps, that are much simpler and can be incorporated into everyday life, that we can take to begin breaking down these barriers.

First and foremost, within our organisations we need to be able to identify and discourage the conscious and especially the unconscious biases that fuel this gap, such as overlooking someone for promotion, etc. We all carry these biases irrespective of gender. Identifying them openly is something that I do a lot, both privately and publicly, and I consider it to be a great first step in addressing and solving this challenge.

Secondly, and this is something that has improved in recent years, we need board level and C-level executives not only to be aware of the gender gap, but also to dedicate necessary resources to create projects, budgets and teams to address the issue. Having this kind of support from the top will mean that the entire organisation will develop a shift in culture, consequently supporting women, seeing them as equal to men, and giving them the power and confidence they need, and deserve, to succeed.

As a woman working in the technology sector, I am constantly reminded in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways that we have a long way to go to reach equality. But I am confident we will get there, eventually.

About the author

Galina Antova Galina Antova is the Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Claroty. Prior to co-founding the company, she was the Global Head of Industrial Security Services at Siemens overseeing the development of its portfolio of services that protect industrial customers against cyber-attacks. While at Siemens, she was also responsible for leading the Cyber Security Practice and the Cyber Security Operations Centre providing managed security services for industrial control systems operators. Previously, Galina was with IBM in Canada in various roles in the Provisioning and Cloud Solutions business. She holds a BS in Computer Science from York University in Toronto, and an MBA from IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. 


Tech role models featured

It’s mind over matter when it comes to working in a man’s world

By Jurgita Andrijauskaite, eProcurement consultant, Wax Digital

tech role modelsToday, we’re seeing increasing numbers of women thrive in traditionally male-dominated industries. This is inspiring to see, especially for young female students and graduates thinking about careers in the STEM sectors.

In spite of a host of positive female role models taking on high profile roles, frustratingly it’s still not uncommon to hear tales of women being overlooked for certain jobs or feel they have to prove themselves more than their male counterparts.

In my role, I help businesses resolve their procurement challenges using technology. I work for a software company which is 85% male, and with procurement leads, many of whom are men too. However, fortunately for me, I’ve never experienced any prejudice or unfair treatment as a woman working in a heavily male dominated sector and think women should believe in their own ability to perform a role just as well, if not better than a man.

Any issues I have faced in my career have little to do with these male dominated environments, in fact my biggest challenge has always been my own self-limiting beliefs. I always used to struggle with self-promotion, asserting myself and taking credit for my achievements. The fear of being judged on ‘Who does she think she is?’ seemed very real when I was starting out.

I think men can get ahead more quickly and easily than women in business because they tend to have the confidence to seize opportunities when they arise, take credit for their successes more readily and are not shy to ask for what they want. I think overcoming feelings of doubt is what sets successful women apart. This certainly changed the way I view myself and others.

When I was younger, I feared that I may not be taken seriously and that people in senior positions would not be interested in hearing what I have to say. As I became more experienced and confident in what I do, this fear has faded. I think it is important to realise that powerful men in expensive suits are human beings too and that equality means trusting and treating yourself equally to the way you treat others.

During my career I have been lucky to have been supported by both male and female mentors who have offered me their honest feedback, support and encouragement. They also helped me to understand what both genders have to offer and learned to appreciate the value of diverse teams. Looking at the bigger picture, taking more risks and not letting perfection get in the way of progress are a few of the valuable lessons that I can attribute to my male role models and I am thankful for them.

My advice to any woman who suddenly finds herself working in a male-dominated environment would be to go for it, and not to try and act like a man! If you ever feel that you’re being left out of the ‘boys club’, think where that feeling might be coming from. Trust that there are ways to build strong professional relationships with men without having to pretend that you like football or drinking beer. You can add a lot of value by tapping into your femininity - your strength lies not in being the same, but in being different. Ask yourself what you are truly passionate about and try to bring that to your work. For me it is the human factor – working with people first, technology second. I’m passionate about helping people, understanding human behaviour and nurturing relationships. It takes great people to build technology, make decisions, apply and manage it to get the desired results. Technology is shaped by human interaction, not the other way around. It is people driven.

To more encourage woman into male-dominated professions, I’d like to see more women support each other. The sisterhood can bring about a positive change in gender equality. Women should empower each other, and we should be proud of our unique skills such as flexibility, an empathetic approach, creativity, intuition to name just a few.

Jurgita AndrijauskaiteAbout the author

Jurgita (Gita) is an eProcurement consultant at Wax Digital, an integrated Source to Pay software provider. Prior to joining Wax, Gita worked in global procurement for CEVA Logistics.


Tech Talent Charter devise 2020 plan to make the tech industry more inclusive

Tech Talent CharterThe lack of diversity in the technology industry is an issue that many wish to tackle.

Unfortunately, women still hold less that 20 percent of technical roles in the UK and only 35 percent of STEM students in higher education are female.

In 2016, Debbie Forster noticed lots of companies were trying to improve diversity within their organisation, but were struggling to make any progress. As a consequence, in 2017, Forster founded the Tech Talent Charter (TTC). The TTC, which is voluntary and free to join, is a not-for-profit which aims to bring together organisations that have an interest in making the technology sector inclusive and diverse.

“All you’ve got to do is guarantee that you're doing something internally, that you're willing to collaborate, to share best practice, and to give me your data,” Forster explains.

This means that being part of the Tech Talent Charter is a privilege, and no matter how big and well-known your company is, you must adhere to the rules to ensure you remain part of the programme.

Forster explains "Both years that we had our report, I have cut members. If they don't give me data, they get removed. I removed 15 percent of my members this year and about 20 percent last year, because what we found is, when companies weren't sharing their data with us, it was because they didn't have the ingredients that they said they did. They didn’t get senior buy-in and they were really not comfortable in collaborating or sharing.”

Any company that is expelled from the programme can rejoin after a year, while knowing that Forster will be having some difficult discussions with them upon their return.

The TTC has recently release its diversity in tech benchmarking report which gives statistics from over 300 companies that are members of the organisation.

Although there isn't complete 50/50 gender parity, Forster is happy with the progress that the results show. Across TTC's signatories, women hold 24% of tech roles, compared to the current UK average of 16%.

One of the key parts of being involved in the Tech Talent Charter is adopting an inclusive recruitment process. This includes making sure job adverts are gender neutral and that all interview panels are gender diverse. This is in the hopes that, wherever possible, women are included within the whole interview process.

“What’s fantastic is to see that what we've been promoting is starting to bear fruit,” she says. “This is a great piece of incentive to bring back to people.

“It also shows that our companies are already indicating that they plan to develop a strategy. More [organisations] are planning to have those targets for shortlists, supporting returners and retraining people, which I think is going to be a game changer.”

Collaboration

In September 2019, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced its third round of funding for the Tech Talent Charter, generously contributing more than £350,000 in support of the initiative.

For Forster, collaboration is at the heart of the charter. In 2016, she was frustrated that so many companies were trying to improve inclusion and diversity in the tech industry without even reaching out to others who were trying to do the same, to find out how they were going about it.

“We bring together employers, recruiters, consultants and people who are working with under-represented groups to help them collaborate," she explains. "We think most of the pieces of the puzzle are out there but it's about bringing them together.”

The Future

In January this year, TTC held their third annual event, where people from across the tech sector come together to find out what members and supports of the Charter had achieved in the past year. During the event, Forster also shared her vision for the future and what goals she hopes the Tech Talent Charter will achieve.

In regards to long term targets, Forster has spoken of one very specific goal she hopes the 2020 Tech Talent Charter will achieve. She wants to not only focus on the lack of gender diversity, but also take a closer look at how (un)successfully organisations are hiring ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+, disabled, neurodiverse and socially diverse employees. Forster has also noted that, when it comes to gender, she wants signatories to look beyond binary definitions. As Forster noted at the event, if we only bring in more white, middle class women, that’s not diversity.

She said at the January event: “I want our members to know they can find the tools, the information, the strategies, the organisations, in order to genuinely move the dial on all aspects of inclusion and diversity. I want our members to be able to find posts in our open playbook and our mapping. I want to see those ingredients inspire more returning and retraining programmes, more targeting in terms of diverse shortlists and then really continuing to pull ahead of the pack when it comes to tech.”

The Tech Talent Charter has an exciting year ahead. For its signatories, the next 12 months are about continuing to build an inclusive working environment for diverse employees, as well as helping TTC to welcome in more organisations with the same vested interest.

“The time to act on it, to focus on the practical and move the dial is now,” as Forster concluded.