woman in tech working on a laptop, online

By Hayley Strang, Senior Marketing Manager, Mapp Digital

As someone who has built a career in martech, I often look around when attending industry events and meetings and am struck by how few other women there are in the room.

I don’t imagine that it will come as a surprise to anyone that women are underrepresented in the tech industry. Deloitte Global predicted that large global technology firms, on average, will only reach close to 33% overall female representation in their workforces in 2022. This is up two percentage points from 2019 but is still obviously far from ideal. When it comes specifically to martech, women are more prevalent than in other areas of technology owing to higher percentages working in marketing as a discipline, although there are far lower percentages of women working in technology specific roles.

Why do we need more senior women?

The argument around the benefits of greater levels of diversity in business has been playing out for many years now. The argument has now shifted to encompass the benefits of diversity in corporate leadership which, evidence shows, can be game-changing. We now know that companies with above-average diversity on their leadership teams report a greater payoff from innovation and higher EBIT margins.

Numerous studies have linked greater representation of women in the C-suite to positive organisational outcomes, although the factors driving those changes have been unclear. Recent studies are now emerging, however, showing that women in the C-suite drive fundamental changes in the top management team’s risk tolerance, openness to change, and strategic focus.

The benefits to the bottom line are clear, but more women at the helm of martech companies will also have a wider impact.

In my opinion, there is huge potential for martech to be an even more inclusive profession, but key to getting more women in the door is having them occupy some of the most senior roles. It’s important to have strong female role models at senior levels in martech companies, so women and girls have something to aspire to so they believe they can build a successful career in the industry. The reason why martech has high potential for more female involvement is that it delivers a particularly cool crossover of technology and creativity. Not only do women from traditionally female-dominated industries end up in martech via careers in “traditional” marketing, but also women in tech are obviously also able to add value and get involved. All this creates an environment where women can flourish.

Smashing the stereotypes

Sadly, unhelpful stereotypes still exist which perpetuate the myth that careers in IT and tech are just for men. This does appear to be a generational issue and is, thankfully, changing. IT and tech have now become more inclusive, and our education system is rising to the challenge and promoting careers in STEM for both boys and girls. It’s also a massive step forwards to see that coding is now cool – as it should be! I think it will take time, but these stereotypes are slowly dying, and as they do, we will see more young women forging careers in martech and, hopefully, rising up to take senior positions. This is where we can also create a virtuous circle. When women visibly take up C-Suite roles in martech companies it encourages other women to forge their own career paths in this area.

Is the martech industry doing enough?

I am seeing some really encouraging proactive efforts by the tech industry to recruit more women and these initiatives are having a positive impact. Unsurprisingly, however, there are still barriers to achieving desired levels of recruitment and these are not going to change overnight. The issues preventing women from applying for these roles vary hugely, from cultural barriers (it can be intimidating to be the only woman in a team entirely comprised of men) to those associated with flexible work and remuneration packages, which are not always as appealing to women as they should be. I think that more women in leadership positions within martech, helping to formulate plans to attract and retain employees, will devise more family-friendly, inclusive policies which will positively impact the number of women it employs and the industry as a whole.

I believe we are now at a tipping point where women will start to not only shape the martech organisations in which they work but will also start to lead the way from the boardroom. I’m hugely excited to see what will come next.