By Marianne Styrman, Chief Operating Officer at Celerway

Despite making up half of the world’s talent pool, women are hugely underrepresented within the STEM industry.

They make up only 26% of the UK tech workforce and the number falls even lower when looking specifically at engineering. This figure is below critical mass – the percentage needed to affect policy and make a change – which is often set around 30%, meaning that women struggle to make an impact in the workplace.

For the women who make it to the top within the industry, they often find themselves significantly outnumbered by their male counterparts and at times feel isolated. It is not unusual for a woman to be the only female in a management or board meeting. This needs to be addressed, as women often feel undervalued or unheard which pushes women out of the tech space when we should be more encouraging and opening more industry doors!

The biggest issue is that business leaders often do not know where to start. But it doesn’t require giant leaps; small steps can be just as effective.  

For example, by adopting policies that ensure a female temporarily covers for an absent manager, two significant goals can be achieved. Firstly, this arrangement helps women overcome confidence issues by creating an environment that allows women to prove their capabilities in a supportive setting. This approach provides them with an opportunity to step into managerial roles and secondly, allows other managers and executives to witness the leadership skills possessed by these women. Therefore, when the next round of succession planning occurs, these women will be at the forefront of consideration for promotion.

Similarly, an effective mentorship programme can significantly aid career progression. I have seen the positive effects of mentors. They provide a wealth of knowledge and offer valuable advice, support, and guidance helping to nurture confidence and retain women in the industry.

Opportunities need to be more available to women, as businesses that reach a critical mass of 30% outperform companies with male-dominated boards. So, my advice to women wishing to enter the tech sector, or seek routes of progression and personal development, should just grab the bull by the horns, trust yourself and act as if you have nothing to lose! Women have something to offer; approaching tech from a unique perspective which can be utilised for better outcomes. We need to encourage more women into this exciting and rewarding space through awareness, opportunities, and mentorship. Doing so is really important in breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations of women in tech.

About the author

Marianne is one of the foremost tech entrepreneurs in the connectivity industry; from founding her own company that provided the technology for SMS voting at Eurovision in the early 2000s to Director of IoT Solutions at Webstep ASA and CEO at Last Mile Solutions, her experience is vast and diverse. She is now Chief Operating Officer at edge connectivity company, Celerway, where she is responsible for the operations and management strategy as it continues its growth and innovation across the international market.  


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