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International Day of the Girl Child: Women Executives Discuss Empowerment and Equality in the Tech Industry

Today marks the United Nations' International Day of the Girl Child, a day to show girls that they have the power to enact change and become strong, outspoken women unafraid to be themselves. Beginning in 2012, this year's them is "My Voice, Our Equal Future," aiming to bring awareness to the inequalities girls face on the basis of gender, many of which last into their adult lives. To commemorate the day, several women tech executives came together to offer their thoughts on how we can make the world a better place for tomorrow's women leaders:

Bonnie Crawford, VP and general manager, Umo Mobility, Cubic Transportation Systems

"As I've progressed in my career, I've heard amazing women at all levels confess they didn't want to miss out on that next career step due to motherhood. Women make up half of the U.S. population, but limitations still exist on their advancement. When it comes to transportation, for instance, the gender gap is very stark with women accounting for only 15% of the industry roles. 

It is time to ensure equitable measures are encouraged so women can prosper in their jobs just as much as their male counterparts. One way is for corporations to take pledges to openly commit to diversity initiatives as they reinvent their organizations. But to do so, women must have a seat at the table in order to enact change and give the women leaders of tomorrow the opportunities they deserve today. To help amplify women's voices, we've signed the MobilityXX pledge, dedicated to increasing gender diversity in the transit industry."


Samantha Humphries, Head of Security Strategy EMEA, Exabeam

"Early on in my career when working in a technical support role, I realised I was somewhat of a novelty factor. A customer once pointed out, "I have never spoken to a woman in support before -- let's see if you can help me," as if it was a challenge I could not meet... whilst another asked me out on a date at the end of a support call. There were times where I'd walk into a meeting, and there'd be a man in the back speaking to me like I wasn't supposed to be there. I felt I had to constantly justify my own position to men like these, ultimately, working harder to prove my worth. And still, it would take months before they would treat me like an equal. But regardless of this, I chose to persist.

There have been a lot of steps forward, with brighter and more accessible paths being made for women in the industry. Security community events are commonly ensuring there is greater speaker diversification. And, when women and girls see themselves represented, they are far more likely to relate, interact and aspire towards the same goal. This is why the power of mentorship is so important. There are countless benefits of learning from people who have walked in your shoes. However, we cannot walk alone. It is not just women who should support one another, but male allies too. I urge everyone to stand up and be counted, to challenge gender equality as it is, and work for the parity that there must be."


Brooke Candelore, product manager, ConnectWise

"International Day of the Girl presents a great opportunity to reflect on some of the challenges women face in tech-related jobs.

One of the many hurdles women face is seeing themselves as someone who can have a career in technology. When I was in high school, I wasn't particularly interested in computers. CPU, OS, and RAM meant nothing to me and when my guy friends started talking about computers, it sounded like they were speaking another language. I never imagined that a career in technology was something I'd follow, but my friend's father encouraged me to consider it and it ended up being one of the best decisions of my life.

Working in a male-dominated field has been challenging, and I often feel like a fish out of water. One of the things that has made the biggest difference for me is having an outward mindset towards my colleagues. No matter a person's sex, we all are striving to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be, and if we work together to build each other up then we can achieve great things."


Dottie Schindlinger, executive director, Diligent Institute

"Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes and there is still a lot to be done to make the modern day workplace a more equitable and diverse space - an issue that impacts the social sector as much as the corporate sector. For example, in the teaching profession, despite the majority (63%) of teaching staff in secondary education being female, only 38% of headteachers are women. 

Similarly in the UK health sector, despite 77% of the NHS workforce being women, in some trusts, just 15.4% of the most senior roles, which include chief executives, medical directors and chief financial officers, and the chairs and non-executive directors who sit on the boards overseeing the trusts' operation and performance, are held by women. 

Diligent is committed to creating a world where every leader is empowered to build successful, equitable and sustainable organisations. Today, on the International Day of the Girl, we call on all social sector organisations to reflect on how they are playing their part in accelerating board and C-suite diversity, ensuring equity in the way they compensate and support their workforces, and striving to be as sustainable and stakeholder-centered as possible. We will do our part to support you and join you on this critical journey."


Diane Albano, CRO, Globalization Partners

"While the industry has made progress, gender bias in the tech industry against women remains prevalent. When it comes right down to it, being a woman in tech or a woman in another high-power, high-intensity, highly-competitive field, the same core principles to success remain true. 

There are many paths. Choose the path that fits you: I always loved math and science-I am not a technologist, but I have been in high-tech my entire career. It's not only about pure engineering and development but also the surrounding roles (eg: sales, marketing, operations, etc.). If your passion and drive are in engineering and development, pursue it unabashedly. 

There are now so many opportunities, organizations and initiatives that push for a future of work where everybody has a seat at the table, from International Day of the Girl, to the Code First Girls initiative, to the Pangeo Global Employment Conference. Pursuit of progress towards a fair and equitable environment is always a worthy undertaking - let's keep the momentum going."


Caroline Seymour, VP of product marketing, Zerto, A Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

"According to Deloitte, only 5% of CEOs and 12% of CFOs in Fortune 500 companies are women, and the tech industry is no exception. It is an area where women continue to struggle with significant underrepresentation.

It's been proven that diverse teams boost performance and bring fresh ideas to the table. If companies are striving for innovation and growth, then progressive hiring is the way to accomplish those goals.

Making a commitment to diverse teams isn't enough; it's also important to address pay inequality. Women make nearly 20% less than men and aren't expected to reach pay equity until 2059. That's unacceptable, and it highlights that simply hiring women is not enough. Employers need to appreciate women's contributions to the workforce and put their money where their mouth is. When that happens, the rewards are substantial.

International Day of the Girl offers us the chance to speak on the challenges females continue to face, but really it must be an ongoing conversation that happens daily. We want more women to pursue a career in the tech industry, and having these conversations will help. Additionally, mentorship is essential to provide support, advocate, listen and advice especially in a field dominated by men. So for those considering a career in the tech industry, I say, go for it. Move forward confidently and pursue it wholeheartedly."


Published Monday, October 11, 2021 2:53 PM by David Marshall
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