By Nicola Buckley, Executive Vice President, Park Place Technologies

Tech role models featuredAs the vaccination programme continues with pace and we finally feel the route out of the pandemic, it’s natural now to reflect on its monumental impact on society, long and short-term.

Hence International Women’s Day this year became a pre-established point to reflect on the state of progression of female rights in the workplace but with an extra-ordinary backdrop; tracking progress on closing gender gaps on working rights, pay disparities, unconscious bias, and lack of boardroom diversity.  The day, #IWD, actually originated over 100 years ago, and it is an interesting vantage point on how favourably women have positioned themselves to emerge working in Tech, post pandemic.

Slowing of momentum for gender disparity

Across industries, sadly the broader picture points to a slowing of momentum for gender disparity change as organisations focus instead on economic recovery as a priority. The World Economic Forum noted in its 2020 Gender Pay Gap report that it will take a further 99.5 years for females to reach parity with their male counterparts.  Recent stats published in the UK from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on the direct impact of the pandemic suggests that female progression overall has very much taken a backseat throughout 2020, with a far greater percentage of females being furloughed and/or having taken on additional childcare/home schooling responsibilities during the crisis.  Yet the Tech sector – long negatively associated with too high a ratio of male:female workforce – has seemingly bucked the trend and has continued to make strides with its female empowerment and STEM encouragement programs.

While we’re not claiming to have had the same impact as say frontline healthcare workers, in the early days of the pandemic, tech took a seismic shift in its own positive image reinforcement. This happened almost overnight as organisations used IT and digital enablement in a race to keep business processes functioning in the most extreme conditions. It was tech providers and IT departments that quickly morphed our entire working environments and operations. Intrinsically, IT moved from being perceived as fixers to technology enablers – with every IT department tasked and creating secure working from home capabilities in the midst of global lockdowns, staff shortages and equipment restrictions. Without IT, the internet, and collaborative working apps, businesses would have gone on to sustain the deepest long-term shutdown and economic fallout ever recorded. With IT sector now acknowledged as enablers and facilitators, will 2021 be the start of a new chapter when the job titles ‘techie’ and ‘engineer’ carry business-transformative positive images that both young girls and boys who are currently considering STEM subjects, aspire to become?

Flexible working

And moving forward, will females in tech also stand ready to be the benefactors of compulsory working from home orders of the past 14 months? After all, women in IT have been requesting better, flexible working from home options that would offer an improved work and family life balance since the 1970s.  In 2020, by default of the pandemic, that came to us all. Our homes were transformed into functioning office workplaces by day, family spaces by night. Our fixed working hours became immediately acceptable flexi-working hours as we added the pressures and timelines of home schooling into working days. Instead of being hastily silenced, pets, deliveries and children were accepted and commonplace in the backdrops of virtual meetings.

But without face-to-face interactions, would productivity levels drop working from home? In what amounts to one of the most interesting, unplanned social experiments of our time, it appears that in the tech sector at least, productivity and sales actually skyrocketed as teams became creatively empowered to keep in touch with customers, dynamically. Females quickly established workspaces and patterns using tech devices that were largely at-hand. We encouraged video communications to become the accepted meeting norm.


Established ongoing remote working also means that the world of career opportunities has opened up and females can, often for the first time, consider roles outside of their regional boundaries and outside of the corporate HQ hosting country, so long as there is some synchronization of time zones. For instance, at Park Place Technologies we have been able to open global positions outside of continents to encourage talented and suitable female remote workers to step forward. No longer do zip and postcodes dictate one of the key hiring criteria. Female talent is now truly an accessible global pool!

We know that changing perceptions continues to be a responsibility that every professional carries, regardless of sector, yet in IT at least, we acknowledge that unwittingly COVID-19 has set new positive benchmarks in the journey of female talent alignment and retention.

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