Celebrating influential women in tech for International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is upon us once again and with today’s world becoming even more interconnected, the meaningful representation of women across technology is essential to shape the products, services and societies of the future. Tech companies have the opportunity to dramatically shift the trajectory of women entering the industry by taking the initiative to promote diversity across their business, which in the long term will likely lead to greater business performance and success. Achieving greater equality within the technology sector will not only impact the individual success of businesses today, but future-proof the next-generation of workers. Here are insights from a select group of influential women in tech who are all inspiring the future generation to come.
Sonja Gittens Ottley, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Asana:
“Gender inequality is a systemic problem, and we will not resolve it by celebrating women one day a year. Instead, individuals and organisations need to challenge gender bias every single day. To achieve gender parity in the workplace, we have to start by fostering a culture that encourages hard conversations about gender equality. And these conversations must take place across teams, levels, and gender groups. Making a habit of asking questions, sharing, and learning from our combined experiences promotes trust, consistency, and accountability - three key ingredients for female allyship. The only way to get better answers is to ask better questions.”
Katalin Adorján, VP of People and Development at Prezi:
“To this day, the technology industry is widely associated with masculinity. For example, job titles in role advertisements very commonly use the words “ninja, rockstar, guru”, and such masculine connotations unconsciously belittle women and contribute to this adversity.
“With International Women’s Day approaching, it is especially important to encourage diversity. I believe as women in tech, we have a great responsibility for the future women in this industry. I learned a lot from fellow women who reached out to me early in my career - you never know if your story could inspire, encourage or help someone.
“I hope that, as we all work on becoming more inclusive, the gender distribution in engineering, data and product management specifically will be more balanced in the future. Initiatives such as OneStepCloser by Amnesty International really help organizations to embrace inclusivity; at Prezi we recently signed up and we are about to launch our Prezi Women mentorship program which will aid women in finding greater support in the workplace.”
Kate Chkhaidze, Machine Learning Scientist at Cervest:
“While at times it can seem like a barrier, gender should never stop anyone pursuing a job role. I have always been passionate about maths and I wasn’t going to be put off by its traditionally male connotations. I went on to pursue it as a degree and ninety per cent of my peers were male. How did I deal with the imbalance? By constantly performing in the top five per cent. I went on to work in the similarly male-dominated environment of date science but my persistence to succeed kept me undeterred.
“Being part of my current team is the most fulfilling part of my career to date. I come to work every day knowing I’m making a difference and am surrounded by the smartest women and men. We are trying to help tackle a global climate emergency, which is one of the most pressing issues of our generation. Far from gender being a factor of our work, it’s about believing in the mission to manage the impact of climate volatility for our planet.
“Having first-hand experience of quitting a full-time job to complete a PhD in mathematical modelling, my advice would always be that anyone can succeed if they fully apply themselves. I wouldn’t be in my dream role if I hadn’t. It is so important for all women trying to, or thinking about getting into tech not to underestimate themselves and for companies to embrace their talent.”
Gali Arnon, Chief Marketing Officer at Fiverr:
“This year, International Women’s Day has a focus mission ‘to increase the visibility of female creatives’ which highlights the significance of the freelance economy in forging a gender equal world. With the rise of freelancing, this type of work has allowed women to experience more equal pay and have more freedom and control over their work. “In the last decade, there has been a 63% rise in highly skilled female freelancers in the UK and the creative industry in particular has seen women being championed. At Fiverr, a leading global marketplace for freelance services, we found that female freelancers are making almost 20% more than male freelancers. Not only are they making more money overall, but they’re also making more on a per project basis. On freelancing platforms, sellers are more often than not judged on the quality of work versus their gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion. They are judged based on the credentials on their profile, a visible portfolio, and reviews from past clients. “Digital freelance platforms have been instrumental in the journey to equality and empowering women in the creative sector to break the glass ceiling. It is encouraging that a technology driven freelance economy has played a positive role in creating an ‘#EachforEqual’ world.
Jaana Metsamaa, Lead Product Manager at Pipedrive:
“I hope that in the near future individuals are celebrated no matter their gender, ethnicity, sexuality or citizenship not only on International Women’s Day, but every day. Integral to building a foundation to make this a reality is both what businesses and individuals do for women, and as women. For women, it’s essential we recognise the unconscious bias we assume every day and take the necessary steps to desist from making these judgements.
“While not always obvious, the implications of this prejudice are significant for both the victim and the biased party. If not kept in check, organisations and employees alike might let these biases influence their decision making, common examples of this include: promoting candidates of a certain gender and preferring to hire candidates who worked at a similar company or university. And as women, it’s all about the mindset: reset your perception of what you can and can’t do. Don’t think of yourself or your gender ‘breaking into’ an industry or ‘smashing a glass ceiling’ as that suggests your envisaged trajectory is somewhere you don’t belong; don’t perpetuate that understanding. Equality needs to be addressed and supported by both sides.”