Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.

Women's Equality Day: WeAreTechWomen talk to female industry leaders on improving balance within the tech industry

Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.Women’s Equality Day serves as an opportunity to come together in the fight for gender parity and reflect upon the progress we have made up to this point. The imbalance continues to be particularly present within the technology sector, with just 19% of UK workers being women. Below, female industry leaders offer their thoughts on how we can improve balance within the industry and drive the next generation of women in STEM.

Annette Reavis, Chief People Officer, Envoy

Annette ReavisMoving businesses towards equity often gets messy. As a leader who is a woman, it sometimes means making hard calls. I left a career in tax accounting when I realised my firm would never make a Black woman a partner.

There are plenty of ways companies can channel energy into rooting out systemic biases and making workplaces more fair and more equitable for everyone, including women. It starts by looking at a company’s compensation and promotion philosophy and making sure it’s as unbiased as possible. A fair plan should be formulaic, which means it’s not managers deciding whether they like you enough to give you the highest percentage raise.

Current research shows that women, usually the caretakers, are at risk for proximity bias, which will disproportionately impact them over the next few years. At my current company, Envoy, we comb through our data to understand our behaviours. When have women been promoted compared to men? How many women are remote, and what opportunities are they getting?

We also do what’s called a pay-equity audit. By looking at how our URT (underrepresented talent) is faring compared to their peers, we can ensure that the performance calibration works. The process is based on data and applies the rules equally to everyone.

A lot of unconscious bias goes unacknowledged, which leads to attrition. Companies need to train managers to recognise their own unconscious bias so they can help others do the same. Having candid but respectful conversations makes bias less taboo and helps workers live out what they’ve learned.

Betty Vandenbosch, Chief Content Officer, Coursera

Betty VandenboschOn Women’s Equality Day, we celebrate the progress that has been made to create a more equal world – economically, socially, and politically. However, today also serves as a moment to reflect on the work that remains to be done. The WEF’s recent Global Gender Gap Report, suggesting that it will take another 132 years to close the global gender gap, is a sobering reminder that inequalities are still present and prevalent, harming our collective cohesion and prosperity. Providing equitable access to education, and with it the skills necessary to thrive as learner, worker, and citizen, is at the heart of our fight to create a more equal world.

Online learning is driving this world – one in which all women, everywhere, can fulfil their potential. Coursera recently worked alongside the IFC and European Commission to explore how women in emerging markets are using online learning resources to transform their lives. The results were powerful and promising. One-third of women learners who participated told us they had found a new job, set up a business, or improved their job performance after taking online courses. Twenty-two percent of women saw an increase in their income, nearly 40% of whom reported an increase of 10% or more. Most strikingly, almost half of the women we spoke to told us that they would have had to postpone or stop their studies – postponing or foregoing this wealth of opportunity entirely – if online learning were not available to them.

These results build on the progress we saw during the pandemic, when women’s participation in online learning globally jumped from an average of 39% in the previous three years to 45% in 2020 and 2021. The flexibility and accessibility of this new educational paradigm is giving women the skills needed to start businesses, enter high-demand STEM careers, and progress in the workplace, driving their economic empowerment, thereby improving their lives and the lives of their families.

Peggy de Lange, Vice President of International Expansion, Fiverr

On Women’s Equality Day, we reiterate our commitment to working alongside governments, universities, and businesses across the world to ensure that every woman can access the world-class education needed to learn, thrive, and prosper.

Despite women making great strides towards equality in recent years, even in 2022, women in the UK are still reportedly paid just 90p for every £1 earned by men. In recessionary times, it’s a particularly bleak reality, and this needs to change.

I feel very privileged to work for a company where 50% of senior management are women. Even on the Fiverr platform, female freelancers are actually earning 9% more than their male counterparts. However, this is not the reality for the vast majority of working women.

Businesses need to do more to combat prejudice and unconscious biases to create a welcoming environment where people can thrive, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, colour, or religion. We also need to empower women, so they feel confident asking for that promotion or pay raise. This Women’s Equality Day, I urge fellow leaders to champion female teammates and look to create more equality within their workforce.

Violeta Martin, VP commercial sales, EMEA, Docusign

I was once one of five women out of 100 students in an engineering class. Now, 16.5% of people working in engineering are female, up from 10.5% in 2010. While encouraging, these numbers are still low and should be seen as targets to increase.

Technology leaders should ask themselves: what can my business be doing to make roles more attractive to women?

That might mean doing more at a grassroots level by fostering relationships with female students. It could mean school and college visits, university open days, and encouraging more women into STEM courses through sponsorship schemes. Active sponsorship and investment in further women are vital.

This Women’s Equality Day I encourage fellow leaders to celebrate successful women, create more visibility and encourage future generations to pursue a career in technology during education.

Lotus Smits, Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Culture, Glovo

Lotus SmitsAlthough Women’s Equality Day started out as a commemoration for women suffrage in the US, the annual celebration now enjoys international recognition, serving as an important reminder of not only how far we have come but also how far we still have to go when it comes to women’s equality and rights.

According to the UN, it may still take 132 years to close the economic gender gap; this is simply not good enough, and the responsibility lies with business leaders to do more to accelerate the current rate of progress. To achieve this, leaders must establish clear and quantifiable business goals that can be tracked and monitored, so that they can be held accountable for their commitment to equality.

In the case that these executives don’t meet their equality goals, employees must be given the tools to challenge their leaders and colleagues – to take action against empty words and promises. At Glovo, we have focused on providing our employees with the right resources and education, so that they feel empowered to make change; this includes delivering seminars and workshops on bias, privilege and microaggression – among other topics – to all levels of the business, from country managers to new hires. We also set ourselves ambitious goals to bring the right balance across all levels.

Through small actions we can establish change on a large scale, and as long as there are people who are willing to challenge the status quo, we can expect that change to come sooner than anticipated.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 



Celebrating gender equality this Women’s Equality Day

gender equality

Each year across the world, people celebrate Women’s Equality, a holiday that originates from women being awarded the right to vote in the US.

The day is celebrated on 26th August and gives us a perfect opportunity to take stock of the progress we have made for gender equality in the world of work and technology, but also how far we have yet to come.

In the spirit of this, an array of business and tech executives have joined together to explain why women deserve their seat at the table in tech, their own struggles during their careers, and how they overcame them.

Michelle Fitzgerald, Director of Demand Generation and Events at Plutora

“I believe the best way to close the gender gap in the technology industry is to encourage girls to take an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at a young age. According to the National Science Foundation, in 2018 only eight percent of female high school students enrolled in engineering courses and only 23% enrolled in AP computer science classes. The same study found that those trends continued into the workforce with women filling only 28 percent of the jobs in the science and engineering fields. By diversifying the STEM workforce, women will be able to use their different perspectives to bring fresh, new ideas to the table and help revolutionise the future of technology.”

Lucie Sadler, Head of Content at Hyve Managed Hosting

“Women’s Equality Day gives us the opportunity to not only stand in solidarity with women across the USA, but to also reinforce the message that equality is not a female issue. There needs to be a shift culturally to recognise that equality is a wider social issue – and one that we are all responsible for.

“Too often the technology industry is tarred with the ‘lack of diversity’ brush, but thanks to mentoring initiatives, coding workshops and more women in leadership roles, we are starting to shake up the industry.

“But there’s still a long way to go. As women working in tech we must do all that we can to encourage diversity and equality in the workplace and to educate our peers.”

Connie Stack, Chief Strategy Officer at Digital Guardian

“The key to addressing many of society’s greatest challenges is also the key to improving the tech gender gap – education, particularly in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Recent research from Microsoft and KRC Research found that confidence in STEM wanes as girls get older, but interest can be recovered when subjects are related to real-word people and problems, tapping into girls’ desire to be creative and make a difference in the world. At DG we’re trying to do just that by sponsoring the United Way STEM program, including hosting girls and boys for a cyber security training camp every summer.”

Amber Johanson, VP, Global Pre-Sales Engineering at Zerto

“It’s been 99 years since women were allowed the same rights as men to vote, and so much has continued to evolve and change in that time. Back in 1920, women had to really fight for equality, but today, women are able to pursue what they are passionate about in life, regardless of what field.

However, it’s still not all completely smooth sailing. There are still challenges and obstacles that arise for women, particularly in a field as male-driven as technology. In my first leadership role, I found that if I raised my voice, I was called emotional. It seems ridiculous, but I quickly realised that because of my gender, I was held to a higher standard.

The gender gap is still visible today, but we will continue working to close it. The best advice I can share to other women who are considering a job in a field that is male-dominated is this: If it’s your passion, pursue it. Set the expectation of being treated as an equal and don’t accept anything less.”

Svenja de Vos, CTO at Leaseweb

“It’s absolutely vital to encourage more women into the tech industry; not only is it important for a diverse workforce, but there simply aren’t enough skills and resources to keep up with growth with the number of people currently in the industry. For this to change, we need to start young, showing both girls and boys that tech can be fun. There is so much scope for creativity in tech - more than people think.

“Being a female CTO today still makes me a bit of a unicorn. And, despite my background and position, some still assume I don’t have technical knowledge. That said, my team respects me because of my technical expertise, not simply because of my title or in spite of my gender, and this is always how it should be.

“My advice to women keen to develop a career in tech is to just do it; don’t be put off by the stereotypes as a team comprised of people with an even balance of genders is more representative of the clients and customers you are building products for. Listen, learn and be the best version of yourself. Find the role that fits you best – after all, it’s person-specific, not gender-specific and now is the time to change perceptions while narrowing the skills gap.”

Bethany Allee, EVP Marketing at Cybera

"It's inspiring to see the changing attitudes as more women play significant roles in the technology industry--especially over the past decade. As more women become policy- and decision-makers, we're witnessing their influence spread across the entire industry. In turn, the industry is gaining important perspectives and ideas we've never seen before. Now that diversity has some time under its belt, there’s data to show leadership diversity correlates to financial returns."

April Taylor, Vice President, ConnectWise Manage

“Schools are leading the way in representation for women in technology from a young age and organisations should be cognisant of the talent that makes up the current workforce. Every industry is tied to technology, so it’s great that the right education is available, especially to younger women because now they’re getting more exposure to potential careers within the tech sector. While there hasn’t been a significant increase, we have seen more women entering our company through our internship program because of that exposure and it’s our responsibility to welcome them to the tech space without making them feel different. From my personal experience working my way up through several different roles within the company, I’ve never felt there was any lack of equality whatsoever and I want to extend that feeling to the other women around me. We’re all colleagues, we’re all a team working together and we should continue to project that mentality to young girls and women throughout their careers.”

Anu Yamunan, VP, Products at Exabeam

“I’ve been active in the technology industry for almost two decades, and for as long as I can recall, it’s common for me to be the sole woman within the leadership team. I’m excited by the prospect of this beginning to shift. In the last five years, we’ve begun seeing an increasing number of female CISOs and executives. More impressively, we are beginning to see more large-scale, enterprise-level businesses being led by female CISOs.

Women, and diversity more broadly, bring a varying perspective to roles, which in turn, increases a company’s ability to meet the needs of their clientele. For example, stereotypes aside, women possess an increased capacity for multitasking and for attention to detail… despite multitasking. These skills, when deployed in a balanced team, can lead to increased workflow efficiency and a fined-tuned product.

But this is not possible without concerted efforts. On National Women’s Equality Day, we recognise that concerted effort lobbied by our foresisters…and the consistent strife undergone to win this right. As we continue to see a shift in representation in the technology industry, it is important to remember those who’ve dedicated such concentrated effort into actualising this reality.”

Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President at Skillsoft

"Taking stock on Women’s Equality Day is important. As a mum of a 13-year old ‘girl’, this topic is very close to my heart. This year we can see some positives.  Just this month we saw more girls taking science A-Levels than boys for the first time in history.  The major push to encourage more girls to take up science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in school and beyond is working – helped enormously by a growing number of successful female role models and skills initiatives.  But there are also some areas where improvement has been slow to materialise and far more work is needed.

Despite advancing in education, we are still seeing a huge disconnect between school subject choices and the boardroom when it comes to gender representation.  And across entire organisations, women are still being paid less than men.  Fewer than half of the UK’s largest employers have succeeded in reducing their gender pay gap this year, with 78 per cent still favouring men.  Education is key – from encouraging girls to pursue academic subjects traditionally seen as ‘for boys’ to highlighting unconscious bias in the boardroom.  Women’s Equality Day offers us a chance to self-assess; where is change needed and how do we do it?  One thing is clear in 2019 – we need to do much more.”

Krishna Subramanian, COO at Komprise

“It makes good business sense to strive for a balanced workforce that fosters gender equality. If you think about it, half of our population is female, more than half of college and university students are female – so why should companies not be hiring more of these talented individuals into the workplace? Businesses are becoming less competitive by not hiring women, due to the fact they are missing out on an essential division of talent.”