Succeed as a Woman in Technology? This Girl Can

March 8th, 2017

Women in technology; women in STEM fields; women in ad tech; women in advertising – whichever way you cut the numbers, they reflect a set of industries that remain remarkably male-dominated. The needle is moving and there is no shortage of women and men fighting the good fight, not only to encourage more women to enter the field, but to encourage them to take up senior positions. On International Women’s Day 2017, ExchangeWire ask how this is progressing.

The IPA released their annual diversity survey in January and found that junior levels in agencies were almost perfectly split between positions held by men and women; but the struggle is still getting that to filter up into senior levels, with only 29% of C-suite positions in media agencies being held by females. The situation looks far bleaker in the world of technology, where only 5% of C-suite positions are held by women. A 2016 gender diversity report from Facebook showed that only 17% of their tech workforce were female and at Twitter, it’s only 15%. Google fare slightly better at 19%.

IT training provider QA carried out a survey to discover women’s perceptions of technology, which highlights not only how challenging it can be to attract women to the field, but also how difficult it can be to keep them there. According to the survey, 50% of women in tech said that they were actively discouraged from starting in tech by their parents, schools, colleagues, and other family members. Around 80% said that they didn’t think a tech career would be attractive as a teenager, but around 100% have enjoyed an exciting tech career. The survey also found 80% of women think more female role models are needed; and 65% think the industry needs to do more to help achieve this. The results of the survey encouraged QA to produce a short film, which is worth watching, showcasing women from all walks of life that entered the technology field, including Dame Stephanie Shirley, a self-made billionaire who created an all-women coding company in the sixties.

ExchangeWire were keen to hear from inspiring female leaders throughout the industry and the response was incredible. From technology PR firms, through to media agencies, and everything in between, across the globe, women in technology give their take on gender diversity and success as a woman.

There’s a difference between macho and talent 

“I read an interview recently featuring [UK Labour Party politician] Harriet Harman. She was asked why she didn’t stand for the Labour Party Leadership and she replied that the world is full of pushy men who push themselves to the top and that women just don’t have the confidence to be that pushy. Harriet pretty much admitted that after two successful posts as deputy leader she really should have had the confidence to have gone for the post. Reading this really struck me – it is amazing how someone of her calibre, standing, and experience still lacked the confidence to go for the post that she was quite clearly the best candidate for. I don’t think it’s a difference between men and women; I know plenty of brilliant men who don’t go around pushing themselves forward either. I do think there is a difference between macho and talent. Lots of macho loud voices, some of whom have very little real talent, male and female, get heard; and those who are not macho, but who have stacks of talent, male or female, can often not be heard because they are not shouting loud enough. It’s not their style. It’s up to organisations to ensure the structure supports the quieter ones and ensure they are heard and that may improve equality for all.”

Clare Hill, MD, the Content Marketing Association (CMA)

Read the full article on ExchangeWire here

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