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Women in tech: How to be masters of the corporate landscape

Portrait of nice attractive intelligent stylish cheerful leader company founder folded arms on roof outside outdoor sunny day

Article provided by Helen Masters, Executive VP and GM International Sales at Ivanti.

According to recent McKinsey research, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women, with women’s jobs being 1.8 times more vulnerable than men’s jobs during the pandemic.

Even in the technology industry, which benefited from a faster than average recovery, we’ve seen a 2% increase in representation at large global tech firms. Despite the technology sector lagging in gender diversity, it is important to acknowledge how well the women that are in the tech sector are doing. It’s hard to be a woman in business, but it’s even harder to be a woman in technology.

We are in a time of reckoning – and technology stands at the forefront. As we contemplate the future and set the foundations for our new normal, we will need to look to a more diverse set of female leaders in the tech industry who are actively engaging with these issues, hoping we can benefit from the wisdom they have gained through their perspectives and experiences.

Eliminate, Educate, Elevate.

As more and more young people embark on their professional career paths, the tech industry needs to prioritise its female staff for top-level roles. This will serve to inspire and motivate younger women as they make live changing decisions such as picking A-levels, university degrees, apprenticeships, and eventually initial graduate jobs – ultimately, this has a knock-on effect. Recent studies show that girls tend to choose a career with more women in leadership roles. This is because they feel like they have a better chance of growing and progressing within an organisation that they see themself reflected in – and with tech already being a heavily male dominated environment, people in positions such as mine need to be more visible. This will be the key to inspiring the next generation and creating a more inclusive and diverse future.

Tech is the future: A future where every product we own is connected, smart, and responsive. A future where we’re able to delegate mundane work to algorithms in machines. There should be more women in technology because it’s imperative that we have a voice in what the future looks like. The number of IT jobs is going to grow by another 24% by 2024, and we have a largely untapped talent pool we could benefit from if we help them see a future in our industry. During this time, there’ll be more jobs than IT graduates, which creates an outrageous demand for talent – even more outrageous than we are seeing today. We need to get ahead of the game and take the necessary steps now so we can welcome the future generation in equal environment and pave the way for their future.

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Challenges in Tech: The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.

One of the biggest barriers and balancing acts for women is being seen as assertive, not aggressive, and that our approach does not threaten our male colleagues but is seen as working cooperatively alongside them – essentially being heard. Many people in tech are older and male and can be resistant to change their perspective. The difficulty is that entering the C-suite sphere means you’re going in at a high level and battling with established executives, who are often more traditional in their ways. Having an accomplished woman coming in saying we need to change things doesn’t always go down well.

What these male executives are missing is that companies with more women in senior positions are more profitable, more socially responsible, and have higher quality customer experience. Having more women in executive positions is better for business – full stop. Women work differently than men, and we all think differently because of our circumstances, which can prove highly beneficial to a business or industry, providing new ways to approach and accelerate innovation.

Breaking the Tech mould. Penetrating the glass ceiling.

Gender equality remains a major issue in the wider corporate world and we still have work to do on the issues many women face including a lack of upward mobility and unequal pay. The good news is organisations are looking to hire more women because business leaders are well aware at this point that diversity increases revenue and helps companies create better and safer products. This is because women think differently. By nature, men and women see things differently and bring unique ideas to the table. This leads to better problem solving, which can boost performance at a top level.

As the EVP and GM of Ivanti for International Markets, I understand the importance of having a team with diverse experiences and backgrounds, and the positive impact that this has on the business and indeed on innovation. The number of women in leadership in tech has been slowly and steadily trending upward in recent years, but to continue to progress tech leaders need to evaluate how we have approached the ‘always-on’ workplace brought about by the pandemic. We need to take care as a recent study by Deloitte finds that pandemic-driven pressures may result in job churn among women – or they may leave the workforce entirely.

The reality is gender equality remains a major issue in the corporate world. Women remain significantly underrepresented in the corporate pipeline. Even if we haven’t seen as much progress as we’d like over recent years, I remain an optimist. In the new world created by the pandemic, we are on an irresistible path to a different society. Appreciation of the importance of inclusion is growing, and tech must reflect this. We don’t want to be having the same conversation about this every year – and I believe that, if every one of us plays a positive part, in the years to come we won’t be.


female leader, women leading the way featured

Honesty and vulnerability can open doors for women leaders in business

female leader, women leading the way

Rachel Probert, co-owner and chief commercial officer at postgraduate digital education provider Learna, shares how her experiences in the tech industry has shaped her view that leaders who put on false shows of confidence can hold back women from taking the reins themselves.

During difficult times while managing and leading tech industry teams, I’ve learned not to hide how I’m feeling. I’ve worked with people who stand at the front of the room and give this projection that everything is fine, and think that’s a comfort to people –  it’s not. I think people know when their leaders are being honest.

As a leader, I am the conductor of an orchestra. I don’t need to know how to play all the musical instruments, I just need to make sure that everybody is playing when they need to be. I want to surround myself with people who are excellent, who know more than me. But I’ve sometimes witnessed managers who are uncomfortable with people working below them who know more about a subject than they do.

It is this culture of putting on a front,  pretending to know all the answers and being better than everyone else, which I believe is one of the barriers to women taking up leadership roles in businesses. This needs to be addressed by leaders to make sure opportunities are accessible to all.

I’m a big fan of the American professor and lecturer Brené Brown, who talks about leadership and leading from vulnerability, or a place of honesty and integrity. She argues that vulnerability is a sign of strong leadership, and defines vulnerability as taking action when there is “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.”

I learned not to hide how I’m feeling through failures in business practices in the past, like relying too heavily on one large customer, or building a business around one organisation.

When I co-owned iPassExam, a business helping prepare marketing professionals for their Google AdWords examination, everything changed overnight when Google made their exam free. Suddenly, everybody who would have previously  been prepared to pay for our services no longer saw any value in doing so. If they failed the Google exam they could just try it again as many times as they liked for free.

I learned a lot from that experience, including the value in being open and honest about where you stand, so that it’s OK to say that you’re scared or you don’t know what the future holds. It’s OK to talk to your team about being uncertain and there can be a comfort in that for people. For me, that is a fundamental part of my leadership strategy.

I don’t think of leadership in business as taking people by the hand and pretending that everything is OK, perhaps then taking them down a path they’re unsure of, while wrongly under the impression that I have all the answers.

Younger female members of staff can sometimes lack the belief they could one day be in a leadership position because they think they don’t, or won’t, have all the answers. That’s why I believe adopting that real and honest approach to leading a team opens the door for more female leaders in the future.

When I’m advertising a job and I list all the skills I’d like prospective employees to have, there is a distinct difference between the male and female applicants. The males are more likely to apply for that job even though they don’t tick all the boxes, because they are willing to have a go and be honest about what they can and can’t do. But with female applicants, I’ll generally only get ones who can tick 90% of the boxes that I’m looking for.

I’ve also found myself in circles talking to women where they say they won’t apply for a job unless they are sure they can do everything that is desired, instead of understanding that these are things they can learn on the job and that they already have transferable skills for.

As someone who’s lucky enough to be in a leadership role as a female, being able to teach them that leaders don’t always have all the answers, or indeed all of the skills, can help them realise that they too can assume those sorts of positions too.

I have a better understanding of the business than most individuals who work for me, because I’ve worked in it longer. I understand that I have holistic vision or knowledge and that’s where I add value. But if there’s somebody on my team who has very specific expertise, I completely trust them in that field and I want them to feel that they own that space.

If we as leaders are honest about the skills and knowledge that we have, or more open about how vulnerable we might feel because we don’t know something, it’s my opinion that we will have more women stepping up and leading.

About the author

Rachel ProbertRachel Probert is the co-owner and chief commercial officer at digital postgraduate education provider Learna, and has more than 20 years’ experience managing commercial and marketing departments within the tech industry.

In her role at Learna she leads the business’ commercial strategy, forging new commercial partnerships with universities and businesses internationally. Learna recently saw its highest student intake for the second consecutive year with a 130%  increase in admissions for 2021-22 compared to 12 months ago, as well as a 41% increase in turnover

Before Learna, Rachel founded and directed a number of successful businesses in the technology sector, including EdTech, and online education business iPassExam until its sale in 2018.

Always looking for new challenges and adventures, Rachel grew her previous company while travelling around Europe, growing and nurturing a new business in the EdTech field, while raising a family.


Technology Leadership featured

Unique challenges female leaders need to overcome | Dr Pippa Malmgren

Leadership

By Dr. Pippa Malmgren, Co-author of The Leadership Lab, Winner of the 2019 Business Book of the Year

Women need to overcome many things in the work place, and so do men.

So, what is more specific to women than to men? A few things. First, we have to remember that humans are still part of the animal kingdom. They respond to many things subconsciously. Studies cosnsistently show that humans are more likely to designate someone as a leader if they are tall and loud. Many organizations are thus run on the “whoever speaks first and loudest” principle. This results, as everybody knows, are not great. We end up promoting the blowhards not only because of these qualities. It is also because we believe that confidence equals competence. As Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic says in his Harvard Business School article called “ Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?” So, women not only have to learn how to speak up. They have to learn to be more confident.

This is easier said than done. Chamorro-Premuzic found that men typically say they are ready for a job when they are only 40 per cent to 50 per cent ready. Women typically wait until they are 100 per cent ready before they will say so. What is the end result of this gap? We get many men who overpromise and underdeliver and almost no women who underpromise and overdeliver. Maybe women should step forward and alleviate this gap?

But, you cannot change your height. So, for women, competing on size is never going to work. It’s not just height as well. Notice how men will drape their arms over nearby chairs and manspread across two places at a table. They are commanding space. Women are not designed for this. But, there are ways of taking the control back. One is to be better prepared. This does not just mean doing the homework. It also means figuring out where all the vested interests are. Women may not have height, but they have convening power. They can figure out how to align opposing interests before the meeting starts. They can be ready to explain not only the best course of action but to show that she had already garnered support for her vision. If she can also show everyone why it would be in their best interest to follow her, they are far more likely to. People trust someone who has thought through the consequences for someone else. Men could do all this too. Good leaders always do this. But we have few really good leaders these days. Women can easily take advantage of the shocking shortage of good leadership.

Not all women want to be leaders. Not all men want to be leaders either. But we still have to learn how to successfully swim in a fluid environment. Too many people think a job or a role or a current project are fixed and lasting things. Organizations are not fixed like a mountain that we are learning how to climb. Organizations are fluid. They are in perpetual motion. The skill needed is less like a mountain climber and more like a surfer. The people will change. The purpose of the work will change. So, women need to get better at managing highly fluid and ever-changing environments. A smart move is to set one’s sights on the next job, role, career, organisation that looks interesting to you.

Men constantly work with headhunters so that they know exactly what their skills are worth in the open market. Those relationships lead to the phone call about a new job that the man can fill before its even advertised. Headhunters regularly complain that women won’t take their phone calls. They want to recruit them but can’t. This is often because the woman either feels unready for the role (see above) or because she is happy where she is. That’s fine. Be happy where you are. But find out what the market rate is for your skill set. Take the free opportunity to build relationships with the headhunter who will help you find the next job even if it’s years away. Know your market.

Finally, women, and men, need to build out interests other than work. Life is short. It is important to find fun and balance. Having outside interests also makes you a more interesting person. But it serves in one further way as well. Most people solve big problems at work when they are 1. Not at work. 2. Not working 3. Not trying to solve a work problem 4. Doing something pretty inane like taking a bath or washing the dishes or going for a walk. Therefore, if you want to really excel at work, you must leave bandwidth for your brain and build in time for switching your head off. Men should do this too. But it is possible that women have an advantage here. Men more frequently pin their identity on their work. This makes them slaves to work and prevents them from switching off. Women are less likely to believe that their work role equals their identity. So, they have more freedom to park work at work. This is a gift that not many men have and many others wish they had. Take advantage of it.


woman with a megaphone shouting to get her voice heard, female leader

Getting your voice heard in the tech industry | Stories of women leaders

woman with a megaphone shouting to get her voice heard, female leader

Becoming a future female tech leader is something that more women and girls should consider as a serious career choice.

However, according to a recent survey by Kaspersky, 38 per cent of women working in the IT and tech sector were wary to enter the industry due to a lack of female representation, which is still very much prevalent in the present day.

The women in part two of this series discuss why they were compelled to join an industry, and discuss what future women of the tech industry can do to become a leader and be part of an ever evolving, and ever changing community.

Prutha ParikhPrutha Parikh, Sr. Manager, Security Research, SpiderLabs at Trustwave

“From personal experience, I had minimal resources at my disposal when I first got a job in cybersecurity 15 years back. The number and type of resources available to anyone wanting to get started in cybersecurity, women in particular, has evolved in recent years. A lot of organisations have started highlighting women achievers in order to motivate and inspire more girls. The number of opportunities for the women workforce in security has also recently grown. There are definitely more options today than there were, say ten years back, and there is more awareness to attract and build a more diverse workforce. In terms of where it is heading, I am hopeful that the industry strives to achieve gender parity not just for entry-level roles but also for executive and leadership positions.

My best advice I would give young women looking to enter cybersecurity is to have passion towards security, or willingness to explore security and technology. However, networking events have helped me quite a bit over the past few years. For the past six years, I have been attending Girl Geek X talks when time permits. Girl Geek X is mainly technology-oriented, but there are great talks from companies that focus on product security and application security. Once every few months, there will be a security-focused talk which I have personally found useful. Girl Geek X events are free to attend for everyone, at least during COVID times, and even before that, the cost was nominal.

Finding local networking chapters in your area like Girl Geek, that focus on helping women would be a good place to start. Women in Cybersecurity is another great resource, particularly for students and even for women looking to start or advance their careers in cybersecurity. And finally, I would recommend following influential women leaders on social media platforms to get insights, stories of struggles and advice that they have shared to get to where they are.”

Joani Green

Joani Green, Senior Incident Response Consultant, F-Secure

“I started my career out in Johannesburg in the travel & tourism industry but, after some introspection, I realised I needed to make a career change to a field that made me feel more alive. I applied to the vacant “operations administrator position” at an information security company, then known as MWR InfoSecurity (later acquired by F-Secure where I currently work).

In the interview I was honest that my long-term goal was to ‘do something technical’. I enrolled in a part time Bachelor of Science degree in Informatics. After two years, I had learnt a lot as part of my degree studies and had gained some great mentors who guided me along the way. I internally applied to the company’s Security Consultant internship while working in the operations role and in that placement, I worked very hard, spending every possible moment trying to figure things out, suffering from insane imposter syndrome and dizzying anxiety. But I pushed through and it paid off; after the internship they offered me a role as an associate consultant in the security consultancy. I’ve since worked my way into leading F-Secure’s UK Incident Response team in London where I specialise in corporate incident response and digital forensics.

I am very blessed in that I work for an organisation that has never made me feel any differently for being a woman. I’ve been given the same opportunities and I’ve been held to the same high standards, and I have always appreciated that. I do however, appreciate that this isn’t necessarily true across the broader industry and urge any women to remember that what is important, is your hunger for knowledge and your drive to succeed in figuring things out and solving new problems in novel ways. Don’t ever give in to the inner voices of doubt.”

Kay Baines Kay Baines, Operations Security Manager at A&O IT Group

“I have always been interested in technology and found Red Teams and Ethical Hacking to be interesting/challenging and very logical. It has always been an industry that I wanted to be a part of, but I was unaware that there are other roles apart from penetration testing and code development. As I had no qualifications in the field and didn’t know anyone, I thought that it was something I would never be involved in. I was previously working in a support role for the sales/commercial department when a position opened up and I was able to fully transition into Operations Support Manager. I was surprised by how easy the move was!

I know many women have faced prejudices throughout their career however I, very positively, cannot say that I have faced any. In fact, I’ve had quite the opposite experience as all the people I have worked with have gone out of their way to help me understand the industry, all of the terminologies etc., and have also given me advice on how I can better my career.

For women looking to start a career in tech or cyber, the best advice I can give is, be confident and don’t let the lack of women put you off.  It’s likely there are more women in Cyber Security than you might realise. And in terms of the industry in general, there are certainly more women coming into Cyber Security and they are being welcomed. It is still a male dominant industry but if you have the skills to succeed then now is the time to put those skills to the test.”

Celebrating future women leaders

Looking ahead, we can only hope that the tech industry continues to make great leaps in creating careers where people do not have to ‘prove’ themselves against stereotypes, and can succeed due to the value, experience and skills they bring to a company. With more tech organisations hiring women and championing female tech leaders, we should expect future female leadership stories to show how they felt compelled to join the industry because they felt like they could and should be there- and we should envisage future diversity reports to show more equal figures and, hopefully, a rise in female leadership roles.


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Girls in tech, STEM

Showcasing technology’s creative side will empower the next generation of female leaders

Article by Nerys Mutlow, Evangelist in the Chief Innovation Office at ServiceNow

Girls in tech, STEMThe technology sector has made improvements in gender representation in recent decades.

There were 326,000 women working in IT roles across the UK in 2020, according to analysis from BCS, meaning that more women are making up the specialist IT workforce than ever seen previously. Yet despite years of progress towards workplace equality, women continue to be woefully underrepresented. A mere 19% of employees in the tech sector are women.

In fact, getting women into technology or STEM careers in the first place continues to be a challenge. According to the latest Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data, fewer than 1 in 5 computing and engineering technology students are female. These figures indicate that the industry still has a long way to go. Getting more women on STEM courses has been a hot topic in the technology industry for the best part of a decade, with public and private sector initiatives aiming to increase numbers. But, the industry, and the people in it, need to do more.

An open-minded approach to recruitment

All companies have core values that lie at the heart their business, but it’s important to continuously introduce fresh perspectives. If the tech sector is going to improve workplace representation, employers must ensure they give both male and female candidates equal opportunities. Also, if they are going to develop a diverse and modern workplace, they must embrace an open-minded approach when it comes to hiring. Rather than simply going through the motions and hiring the same types of candidates, employers should look to bring people from different backgrounds with a variety of different perspectives into the office.

Not only will this create a more inclusive workplace, but it will also drive innovation and creativity, leading to a greater chance of success. According to a McKinsey report, companies with more than 30% of female executives are more likely to outperform businesses with fewer women. Adopting an open-minded recruitment approach will also widen the talent pool for employers as it will encourage them to hire based on potential, rather than relying on proven experience. This approach subscribes to the belief that talent can come from anywhere, regardless of background.

It’s not just about STEM skills

Once an open-minded recruitment process has been implemented, tech companies will begin to feel the benefits of a workforce with a more varied set of skills. Traditionally, companies implementing STEM initiatives have often placed too much emphasis on maths-based skills, such as coding and programming. Whilst coding is still important, today’s technology has made it easier than it’s ever been. Polished teaching methods and universal access to development tools have made it much more accessible. On top of coding, the modern tech industry is crying out for empathetic and creative skills, such as user experience design and critical problem solving.

Creativity and problem solving have never been more crucial to technology than they are right now, with concepts like design thinking requiring us to empathise and understand the challenges faced by end users. Once you truly understand the end user’s perspective then you can design solutions to meet any challenges at hand which will undoubtedly require technology in some shape or form. However, if you start with the technology, then you can become constrained by it when solving complex challenges. By contrast, starting with the problem, leveraging strong domain business skills, communication skills and empathy can lead you to design truly innovative and market leading solutions.

Showcasing creative and design thinking, as opposed to traditional coding, will challenge the outdated stereotype of technology as the domain of the male coder. By dispelling the archaic narrative of a mathematical, male-orientated environment, young women will feel empowered to choose STEM subjects at school and embark upon careers within the technology sector. And by showcasing the creativity and collaboration within today’s technology industry, we can bury the stereotypes and inspire more women to enter the sector. Perhaps we should all be widely adopting the term ‘STEAM’ now to put an equal emphasis on the artistic skills needed for a career in technology.

It’s time for tech employers to take heed and address the gender divide that continues to persist within the industry. Adopting an open-minded approach to recruitment will create the platform for an inclusive workplace that incorporates a diverse set of perspectives. This will introduce a new, modern way of working that places empathetic skills at the forefront of technology. Only then can we begin to smash down the male-dominated stereotypes of what it means to succeed in the industry and pave the way for the next generation of female leaders.

About the author

Nerys Mutlow Nerys Mutlow works in the Chief Innovation Office at ServiceNow and covers the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions. She has a breadth of technical, business and leadership experience gained over a 20 year+ career with variety of companies including Xerox, Thales and Fujitsu. She has held senior EMEA business, consulting and technical roles and is consistently recognised for her technical aptitude, business understanding and focus on driving value and innovation for her customers. Nerys also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems Management. She is a recognised thought leader and has published and contributed to a number of digital publications and blogs. Supporting women into technology is particularly important to Nerys and she actively supports many STEM initiatives.


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How to be listened to as a woman at a senior level

Opinion piece from Sona Patel, Finance Director at rehab

How-to-be-an-effective-female-leaderWhy aren’t there more women in tech?

It’s a question that doesn’t seem to be going away, but with women constantly being told that they are ‘bossy and emotional’, while men are ‘strong and opinionated’, it’s not that surprising that the number of women in top boardroom positions has fallen.

The need to encourage and push females in business is still a much-discussed topic, with companies continually being criticised for their lack of progress in getting more women to the top.

2017 report found that just 15% of the people working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) roles across the UK are female. It also showed that a mere 5% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women. That being said, it was also reported that Britain’s most successful companies have women in senior roles.

Something doesn’t add up. Isn’t it time we listened to the research and made encouraging women to flourish and be listened to within the tech sector a focus?

Attracting females to more high-profile roles

The fact that there are more male leaders than female is not just because many industries are still stuck in the “Mad Men” or “Boys Club” era, but that women often have more choices to face. If both men and women could carry a child, then I doubt we would be questioning the lacking number of women leaders. But today’s harsh reality is that, in many cases, women must choose between a top-level career or having a family. When a woman chooses both paths, she ends up in a paradigm where she gets grey hair too early and doing it all simply seems too much. Eventually one side has to give. More often than not, it's giving up the chance to “sit at the table” or to give up the dream to have your own start-up.

We are seeing an increasing number of bigger companies, like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Coca Cola and the Foreign Office do a lot for women in the workplace, for example: workplace creches, working from home, flexible hours and help with nursery fees, to help make family life flexible. But if you work in a smaller company, one that can't afford to give women paid time off and flexible working hours, then top-level female roles will never flourish. I think it’s more about what the government is doing to help smaller companies, we need to open these opportunities for women so they can start one or look after their family.

The hurdles to overcome in order to be listened to

During my career, I’ve started from the very bottom and worked my way up in privately-owned companies. This meant I was able to learn a lot, and fast! My upbringing never allowed me to sit back. I’ve been working since I was 16 and knew the quickest way to grow was to learn from others. Teaching yourself will take longer, so always try to surround yourself with people you can learn from.

During my career I’ve observed a lot, and that's what helped me get to where I am today. In a meeting of say, five men and two women, women often tend to say less – even though you can see they have something they want to say. Being able to watch from a distance has taught me to identify how people actually behave, and what you can do in order to be heard by the right people at the right time. Everyone can talk, but for me, it's about being listened to. I would often wait until the end of large meetings before saying anything because it allowed me to absorb all the information and make a valid and well-thought-out contribution to the meeting.

Like many others will have experienced and prior to working at rehab, I have been in situations where others will speak over you, but the art of contributing at the right time with the right information is a skill. Personally, I don’t believe it’s about who speaks the most or talks the loudest, it’s the person that makes the most sense, no matter the position you hold within the company.

The power of female mentoring

I have not had direct “mentoring” before, but I believe I’ve had mentors in my life (whether they know it or not!). I try to mentor and guide my team to think creatively and outside the box. Finance can often be stereotyped as a boring career choice, so I find it important to apply some glitter where I can. My aim is for my team to feel that I am a good mentor and that they are able to learn from me daily.

Positivity around women in tech

Rehab is an extremely supportive company. Not only do they support women, but they also help them to progress within their role. My CEO is always trying to encourage me to network and find mentors within my field, despite knowing I want to start a family next year. It can be rare to find a company that would want to invest in someone that might be going on maternity leave in the near future. The jury is out on whether motherhood will potentially sway their next choice regarding work, so I feel blessed to work alongside a management team that supports women inside and outside of the workplace.

The future of women in tech

Don’t try to be a man. You also don’t need to be the loudest or most social person in the company to get a high-level role. Respect from colleagues is built from inside the office, not out. The biggest advice I would give a junior in my position is learn from those around you, it doesn't just have to be people in your department, but from the company as a whole. It’s important to be curious about other people and get to grips with what they do.

Sona PatelAbout the author

With previous experience working for an industrial design company and also an ad agency, Patel has worked in many male dominated environments, experiencing gender discrimination first hand and being forced to break the mould to become a successful women in business. After being constantly told that women are ‘bossy and emotional’, yet males are ‘strong and opinionated’ – Patel knows that the road to changing people’s stereotypical views on women in the workplace would be no mean feat.

The impact that Sona’s arrival had on the agency three years ago prompted the finance team being brought to London and a wider restructure. Working in tech has now been a different experience for Sona, as one of rehab’s core beliefs is to champion diversity in the workplace. Sona was able to expand her expertise and was listened to as a senior female.

Her role at rehab doesn’t just sit with finance, she’s encouraged the team not to just stay in their lanes and to break the boundaries of their normal routine, whilst also helping to mentor more junior females within the agency. Having to learn about rehab’s offerings has led to her increased interest in tech, and also helped develop an understanding of what it takes to be listened to as a woman at a senior level.


female leader, women leading the way featured

How women are paving the way in tech

female leader, women leading the way

The technology industry has historically been dominated by male professionals.

When we think of tech we naturally think of masculinity - technology workplaces filled with male developers, IT “geeks” and programmers. However, like with many industries, tech is such a broad title. Businesses do not have to be totally tech focused to be classed as a tech company.

As a woman running a tech company, it is key to remember that you do not need to be a “techie” yourself. The big sea change in the industry is recognising that women bring an amazing amount of wealth and experience to the party, and that their skills can really help to develop a company to grow. Women don’t need to be a trained programmer to make a positive impact in a technology company.

I am Managing Director at a digital affiliate business, but I am not from a tech background - my key skill is people. I thrive in managing people in a business to be aligned to the organisation’s vision, which results in a united team working together to help to achieve the company’s business goals. I believe that women in the workplace excel in ‘getting things done’, managing projects, and looking at situations from an ethical perspective. We’re brilliant at observing business challenges through a detailed eye to ensure we are always doing the right thing. I work with two male founders, who realised and accepted that they needed the skills of a woman to help them take their business further. Although they are excellent businessmen, they lack the skills to manage people in a detailed way on a day to day basis. They know this attention to detail is important to take the company to the next level, which is why they brought me on board.

Tech and digital organisations are waking up to the benefits of a more gender diverse workforce. There’s so much buzz in the industry about encouraging women to enter this male-dominated landscape, and systems have been put into place to encourage a gender balance. Events like the yearly international #WomenInSTEM days promote women working in the science, technology, engineering, and math industry, and give those businesswoman a platform to share their stories and tips for a successful career.

The Women In Tech website is a hub of knowledge for our industry, but they reflect on some worrying statistics. In the UK, only 17% of professionals within the technology industry are female, as are only seven per cent of students taking computer science at A-Level. Although those figures may be low, I am confident that through events like #WomenInSTEM, STEM Women Career Events, and Tech Up - the latter which champions the ‘tech revolution’ of women in the industry, we’re making steps towards a gender balance. This revolution is happening on a global scale, with supermodel Karlie Kloss opening a free ‘code camp’ for girls in the United States, where young women aged 13-18 can spend their summer at ‘Kode With Klossy’.

Small tech businesses are also looking within their structures to help identify those rising stars, so that they can develop the next generation whether they be female or male. Many workplaces are now offering flexible working packages to help attract businesswomen who may have family responsibilities, so they can continue to develop professionally whilst also maintaining a work-life balance.

It’s inspiring that we have a group of up-and-coming professional women in the tech industry paving the way for a more diverse technology landscape. The key to any successful workplace is to have a true balance of staff - both with gender and background taken into consideration.

About the author

Nicola Short is the Managing Director of Redu. Nicola is also a leading business expert.