To mark this year’s event Olivia Manning asked 10 STEM industry experts to share their thoughts and advice.
Reading time: 5 minutes
International Women’s Day is not only about celebrating all the remarkable achievements of women around the world, but also working to enable women to have greater opportunities to succeed moving forward.
While great strides have already been taken towards gender parity, we’ve still got a long way to go. Take the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sector, for example, where only 12.8% of the workforce are women.
With limited representation in the sector, women may not see STEM as a place in which they belong. This needs to change.
Encouraging women to see all the opportunities that are available to them starts with inclusive education and training opportunities. Equally important are workplaces that forge inclusive spaces in which women can thrive.
Multiple reports have proven that diverse workforces are more creative and productive, so encouraging a gender-balanced workforce is in the interest of all.
This International Women’s Day – which is an annual celebration observed around the world on 8 March – we asked 10 STEM industry experts share their thoughts and advice.
Investing in education and training means investing in the future workplace
Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, CMO at Skillsoft, explores the importance of learning culture to female development.
She comments: “While International Women’s Day is a unifying moment in time for us all to pause and reflect on the women in our lives at work, at home and in our communities, individually and at the organisational level, we must break free from routine to elevate female voices.
“Continuous learning and development must extend beyond a single day or month, and our mindset for learning must match our motivation for bettering business with women.”
“The technology industry is well known for its gender inbalance, and we all have a responsibility to encourage girls to consider technology for further education and as a long-term career path,” Samantha Nguyen, product manager at Bitglass explains further.
Encourage girls to choose STEM subjects and shine a light on the career opportunities available to those with STEM qualifications
“For me, technology is always evolving and that is in part what drew me to the industry. Every day is different and I am always learning.
“There are so many opportunities, both from an entry-level perspective and in terms of skills training or career progression.”
The answer, then?
“Encourage younger girls to choose STEM subjects and shine a light on the career opportunities available to those with STEM qualifications,” says Liz Matthews, head of community and education at Mango Solutions.
“Increase investment in training for women to fill the corporate need, and have the overall goal of closing the gap once and for all.”
Creating inclusive and diverse workplaces
The world should be a place of equal opportunity for all people no matter your gender. Unfortunately, there is a divide, and in some industries, like the technology industry, it is bigger than others.
“Many organisations, including those in the technology industry, are making a huge effort to change,” notes Connie Stack, chief strategy officer at Digital Guardian. “However, I’d say it can also be as simple as being more female-friendly.
“It is important that women have role models. For me, this has never been about brand names or famous CEOs – male or female. But rather it is the large pool of personal female mentors and co-workers who have provided great advice and guidance all along the way, and continue to do so.”
Kleopatra Kivrakidou, channel marketing manager EMEA at Ergotron, also believes in the importance of nurturing an inclusive company culture.
“In my role for the past four years, I have been able to serve a great purpose to the B2B world: helping people improve their wellbeing at work and thrive in their goals.
“I love working alongside technology because of the agility and customisation that technology gives its users.”
A diverse workforce means a better workforce
Diverse workforces are proven to have a wealth of value. Bob Davis, CMO at Plutora, comments: “International Women’s Day allows us to celebrate women and raise awareness of gender equality for a healthier, wealthier, and more harmonious world.
“Businesses who want to be successful should strive to cultivate diversity in the workplace. Our differences are what make us stronger.”
My advice to women is to keep developing yourself
Lucie Sadler, head of content at Hyve Managed Hosting, argues: “IT companies must strive to be fully inclusive, and this change must come from within.
“Diverse teams work better, bring different perspectives to the table and make employees challenge their own thinking. And that’s a really good thing.”
Svenja de Vos, CTO at Leaseweb Global, also offers her advice: “Successful organisations are built on a diverse workforce and teaching this principle from a young age means we’re more likely to remove the unconscious bias that is associated with gender roles in tech.
“My advice to women is to keep developing yourself.”
The long and winding road to gender equality
While many strides have been taken towards gender equality, we still have a long way to go.
Bethany Allee, SVP marketing at Cybera, suggests that “We should promote and encourage family leave equality to give families the opportunity to make decisions without the boundaries of traditional gender roles.
“There’s no doubt the race is on to ensure gender equality throughout society. The great news is that we’re making good headway, but we’ve still got a way to go.”
Hugh Scantlebury, co-founder and CEO at Aqilla, agrees. “It’s been 100 years since women were permitted to be a part of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
“It’s partly because of this that there has been a gradual increase, over the past 50 years or so, in the amount of women working within finance and technology-related roles. Although this is encouraging, the word of note is still ‘gradual’.”
This International Women’s Day it is important to reflect on the achievements of women all around the globe. It is a day to recognise the steps that both women and men are taking in order to strive towards a fairer world.
After all, though progress towards gender parity may be slow, these steps pave the way for the women of the future to have more opportunities to succeed. By recognising the value of diversity, and working towards this inclusive vision, the future looks a lot brighter.
About the author
Olivia Manning is a content provider for Touchdown PR