Despite significant progress in the technology sector in recent years, there’s still a long way to go until we see complete parity for women in digital.
With the majority of modern businesses placing equality high on their agendas, we are now much more aware of the issue than ever before. The biggest part of the challenge, however, remains the ability to recognise an imbalance, understand its impact and then create the solution and support to address it.
Often subconscious, inequality is perpetuated by habits, history and assumptions that we take for granted. And that applies to both men and women. We need to challenge ourselves to rethink the way we work, speak and act around each other and hold ourselves (and our colleagues) accountable when we spot behaviours that inhibit progress or reduce opportunities for improvement. Our Women In Digital share their thoughts and personal experiences on how we can collectively implement change and in turn help encourage more women into the technology sector.
Create inclusive and diverse workplaces.
Layla Marshall, Product & Marketing Director at Ascent believes inclusive cultures are key to empowering equality. “It’s too easy to start to question your judgement and vision or feel like the dreaded imposter when your experiences (professional, cultural or gender-based) are different from the majority of people in the room. Good employers will appreciate your perspective as additive and create the right environment to get the most out of everyone - a room full of homogenised opinion delivered by Dilbert caricatures benefits no-one. Conviction is magnetic. If your idea or plan is as good as you think it is, don’t be afraid to put it out there, defend it, build on it with contributors, don’t be swayed by disruptors. You’ll be amazed at where it gets you. If I could summarise my entire working experience to where I am today into 3 simple words of advice, they would be: Hold. Your. Nerve.”
A room full of homogenised opinion delivered by Dilbert caricatures benefits no-one.
Encourage women to see all the opportunities.
Education and training is an essential core pillar in changing longterm behaviours. In the workplace, we need to shine a light on future career opportunities as an essential way to close the gap. The IT industry is full of potential with varied career progression. It is well paid, and one of the best set industries to offer flexible working. Sara Hamilton, Deputy Director of Product and Managed Services, has this advice for women considering joining a role in tech: ”Don’t let the statistics on female representation put you off as there is nothing inherently male about IT. I have worked with many amazing female developers, product owners and managers who have excelled against and with their male counterparts. It is an ever-changing industry which opens a lot of doors and offers an exciting and sustainable career path. My advice: go for it!”
There is nothing inherently male about IT.
Explain and celebrate the IT industry with career influencers.
We have a massive role to play in explaining, educating and celebrating the IT industry and its importance to educators, parents, carers and other career influencers. Raising awareness early is a foundational block we can’t afford to ignore. The future is digital. Women’s active participation in this industry is crucial to shaping and sustaining a fair and equitable digital economy. Charlotte Mummery, Ascent’s Global Talent Acquisition Director believes the sector is vibrant and flourishing and incredibly creative, often only visible from the inside. “It’s important to encourage graduate placement options and really clearly defined training and development pathways to counteract the perception of intellectual intimidation”, she says.
Raising awareness early is a foundational block we can’t afford to ignore.
Encourage technology as an appealing career choice at a young age.
The challenge is to teach young women about the wide range of careers within IT. By the time young people reach work or university, their lives have already been shaped and influenced significantly. Every young person should grow up feeling like they have the potential to be who they want to be with inspirational role models that have shaped their journeys. This all starts with education at school and encouraging the take-up of STEM subjects.
Sara’s interest started at school. “I remember thinking if you wanted to work in IT you had to be ‘good at computers’, which doesn’t mean a lot and so I assumed I wasn’t. Lots of boys played video games and so had more exposure to technology than my female friends and me, so we were already behind. The skills required for IT are so much broader than that - I got into (and became successful in) software testing because I had a good critical and analytical mind. Not because I ‘knew computers’. Some of the best product owners I have worked with have been successful due to their empathy, meaning that they were able to build a rapport with customers and establish requirements more easily. It’s not all about being a tech genius, and tech can be taught.”
Collectively our responsibility to equality is to create opportunity, without any barriers dictated by gender. This allows us to get to root cause of any systematic inequities - and instead of solving around them, strive to remove them. This is something we are passionate about at Ascent, and the great community of allies, enablers, supporters and role models we have here of all genders continuously shapes our culture, providing the foundation for true inclusion and belonging for every person. We’re on a journey ourselves at Ascent, and will continue our pursuit of equality, equity and inclusion every step of the way.
Happy #womensequalityday to absolutely everyone.