International Women’s Day 2020: Celebrating Women in Tech
It’s International Women’s Day, the theme this year is #EachforEqual and the tech sector’s efforts have not gone unnoticed.
An equal world is an enabled world
As inclusion and diversity has been a topic in almost every boardroom recently, here is what some of the women in the industry had to say.
Caroline Puygrenier, director of strategy & business development, connectivity, Interxion
“Over the past year, in particular, I’ve participated in conversations around elevating women in the technology and telco industries – highlighting leaders, connecting over unique challenges we as women in the technology industry face, and identifying room for improvement despite the progress we’ve made – particularly through focus groups and speaking forums.
“I enjoy these discussions and believe they are critical for achieving greater diversity in the industry.
“However, something we must constantly remind ourselves of on our quest for gender equality is ensuring that these conversations truly reflect equal representation.
“For example, a panel on women in tech consisting only of female participants is not truly an inclusive conversation; rather, it excludes the male community, which, in my opinion, won’t help long-term goals of forging a gender-equal world.
“By having more inclusive conversations, all parties can work together to make changes that promote greater equality.
“The same goes for greater diversity too in terms of ethnicity and age – all parties of interest need a seat at the table to participate in meaningful discussion that will bring us closer to an equal world, sooner.
“More inclusive representation allows for more interesting conversation, not only helping achieve our goals for equality, but also allowing for various perspectives to add to the value of the conversation.”
Neira Hajro, Partner at McKinsey Digital
“I’m regularly the only woman in the room – and I don’t doubt that I still will be for several years to come. That brings a lot of attention but also opportunities to make our voice heard.
“As a woman who has always worked in the tech industry, I can confidently say that there are still differences in both how men and women in the sector think – and in how we are perceived. But, change is on the horizon, more organisations are setting hard targets for the number of women at all levels including Boards, and we all, men and women, have a role to play in sponsoring and empowering our female talent.
“One of the most recent experiences of this change for me was becoming a mother. There’s still a perception that a woman’s career ends the day she becomes a mother – and consequently, you can either have a successful career, or be a brilliant Mum. I disagree.
“With the right support base, at home and work, it is possible to do both and we should have the confidence to ask for both.
“This International Women’s Day, let’s recognise that we all need sponsors. Having a strong support base will allow each and every one of us to thrive in the workplace if our skills and contributions are recognised and valued.”
Yael Asseraf Shenhav – VP, Ethernet NIC, smartNIC, SoC at Mellanox Technologies
“When I joined Mellanox it was a start-up. Every person that a start-up recruits is critical, they don’t have the time or budget to not get the right people on board.
“I was newly-married. Many start-ups might have asked: is she going to have kids pretty soon? It never occurred to them.
“By the way, a year after I joined Mellanox my first daughter was born! Not for a minute did Mellanox hesitate to recruit me because I’m a woman who might have kids who’d hijack some of my time.
“It was never a factor then or throughout my time with them. Mellanox is very inclusive, not just over gender but religions, cultures, everything.
“I was very flexible but Mellanox was super flexible about it. For the first eight or ten years at Mellanox, I was working flexible hours so I could be at home with my small kids.
“If you have faith in women, there is a great return on your investment. Historically, men have instinctively competed at work – they never had any choice. However, the way we live and work has evolved and women seek equal opportunities for careers today.
“Technology is changing accordingly, so that hardware and software are decoupled and information systems are less hierarchical and more fluid and adaptable.
“We should educate our girls not to be afraid to take risks and not to be afraid to work in industries dominated by males. Industries are increasingly understanding the value of having women. I think we’re getting there, but we should not see young women as a burden.”
Time is precious, but news has no time. Sign up today to receive daily free updates in your email box from the Data Economy Newsroom.
Laurinda Pang, CenturyLink’s president of international and global accounts management
“Equality is not a women’s issue; it is a business issue and an equal world is an enabled world. Individually, we can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.”
Lauren Tubb, Business Development Manager at Civica
“It’s important for women to support each other in the workplace because many believe that women have to excel to a higher degree than men to get the same recognition.
“Women in senior positions have a wonderful opportunity to help pull other women up and give them the confidence to secure a status in the workplace.
“Whether it’s nature or nurture, biology or social conditioning, women tend not to shout as loudly as men about their achievements, so it’s even more important that they have female role models who can empathise with that trait and who will encourage them to take pride in their achievements.
“I often speak to my daughter and her peers about the career opportunities in STEM open to women. In fact, I have encouraged many of my female friends to consider joining Civica and think about a technology career as a possible route for them.
“I think mentoring is a great way to guide, motivate, and inspire other women. We have the tendency to put ourselves down and to not believe in our capabilities.
“I’m lucky enough to have an amazing mentor at Civica who has given me her time, words of encouragement, and taught me new skills, which have allowed me to grow in my role and as a person.”
Angela Logothetis, CTO, Open Networks, Amdocs
“International Women’s Day is a fantastic opportunity to reflect on the achievements of women and to highlight what can be done to improve diversity in business and push for change.
“As a woman in a senior leadership role, I consider myself fortunate to be given a platform to discuss the industry and diversity issues that I’m passionate about.
“Not all women in similar positions are given the opportunity to become a voice for the company. This exclusion can influence the public perception of a company, create a gap in role models for the next generation, and can proliferate the lack of diversity in business.
“However, I am encouraged by some of the recent initiatives that I’ve witnessed to help empower women in the workplace.
“In some Nordic countries, for example, maternity and paternity leave is divided equally between parents. Being on leave for nine months to a year can result in women falling behind their peers in training, development and promotion.
“By sharing parental leave, it ensures men get an equal opportunity to raise their families, and that women have equal opportunities at work.
“One piece of advice I always give to both my female and male peers who are aspiring to be leaders, is to network as much as possible and build relationships with successful people. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they’ve risen to the position they’re in, and how they’ve overcome challenges in their career.”
Caterina Falchi, VP of File Technologies at Cloudian
“Historically the technology industry has been a hard place for women. Not because we were not welcome, but the reality was, there was less opportunity and we had to work a lot harder to prove ourselves.
“This continues to change, but there is still a lot more to be done. What is important now is to not focus on the industry’s past, but instead get the inspiring and empowering message out there to the future women of tech.
“We need to show girls that anyone can be a scientist, a technologist or a mathematician. And for this reason, the stories of successful women must be presented as stories of ordinary women who believed in themselves and overcame their challenges.
“I think the introduction to technology needs to start early and needs to be light – the message should never be that technology is too hard for girls.
“I think many girls worry that this area is too difficult – we need to change this perception. Furthermore, we need to show young children that technology is fun and easy and, if they concentrate and study, can offer an exciting and rewarding future. It is our job to show them that technology is exciting and ignite passion rather than extinguish it – the rest will naturally follow.”
Read the latest from the Data Economy Newsroom: