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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.