Celebrating Women in Technology on International Women's Day

6 min

The technology industry in Australia is well known as being heavily male dominated. Because of this imbalance, companies striving to create a more diverse and balanced workforce often have to work very hard to attract and retain female talent.

 As a woman working in the technology recruitment sector, I understand that there are often complex and challenging barriers to women achieving success in this industry and am interested in supporting clients to develop more diverse workforces which embrace female talent. So, in celebration of International Women’s Day, I decided to reach out to women in the industry who have inspired me, or who I have met through my work, to share stories of how their companies are championing more women in the workplace and what advice they would offer to aspiring female tech talent.

Current landscape

According to a 2018 report by career platform, Honeypot, Australia fared really well in comparison to most countries when it came to the percentage of women working in the tech sector, coming in second place. But despite outranking its peers, women still only represent 28% of the IT workforce in Australia, compared with 45% across most other professional industries – so there is still a long way to go.

Whether it stems from the underrepresentation of women during their studies, or a lack of continued education in the workplace, many companies are now recognising that more needs to be done to support women entering and staying in the tech industry.

Marketing Manager, Tia Truong is confident of the value women add in the tech space; “we have to break through the barrier and the fear that technology is a male dominated industry and believe that we can add value as strong women”- a view that is echoed by many of her industry peers.

“We need to break the stereotypes, and the only way we do it is by a shift in mindset and a whole lot of courage” – Priya Kuma, Business Development APAC
 “Gone are the days of coding alone in server rooms or in an imbalance of socially awkward tech types. Tech is for everyone” – Lisa Bouari, Executive Director
How companies are embracing inclusivity

Tech companies are adopting a range of policies to cultivate a more inclusive culture, in order to attract and retain female talent – incorporating initiatives such as flexible working, learning and development workshops, and a push on promoting talented female leaders.

Customer engagement software provider, Freshworks is celebrating International Women’s Day by sharing gratification posts for women working in the company to call out their role as a key contributor to the workplace. This closely aligns with the company values –  a key one being the fostering of a ‘Happy Work Environment’ – and as a result of this “the work we do doesn’t just pay the bills; it makes us happy. We choose career paths and play to our strengths and work together to make the office a collaborative, diverse environment.” – Maria Mughal, ANZ Marketing Manager

Lisa, Executive Director of Outthought & 2018 ARN Women in ICT Innovation Award winner, reiterated the importance of educating women and of “making learning and education easily accessible” so that women can develop the right skills to further their development at work.

Furthermore, what companies like these have in common is that they are led by leaders who are at the forefront of pushing for greater workplace diversity and inclusion, and many of these leaders are women.

“Leaders must live by the values they espouse, and change must be supported by systems, policy and programmatic efforts such as women’s networks” Uma Thana Balasingam, Co-Founder of Lean In Singapore

Benefits of more women in tech

There are an abundance of benefits to having more women working in technology. As the demand for tech roles grows, the workforce will need to grow and adapt to support this, and if that workforce is diverse and more representative it is likely to work better, be more efficient and produce stronger results. Not to mention that investing in diversity and inclusion in the workplace is likely to boost retention: people stay when they are included, challenged and educated – and where they see their work being important and valued.

Recognising the need to promote greater gender equality in this space, many companies have made hiring more women integral to their diversity and inclusion policies. At Linkedin, an employee resource group, Women at Linkedin (WALI) has been created to engage women (and men – it’s inclusive!) from tech companies to come together, discuss gender challenges and promote positive actions to overcome these challenges. Making these discussions and considerations part of the fabric of an organisation highlights how important having a diverse workforce is for organisations today.

“It’s an ever changing and evolving environment that pushes me to learn and adapt, as well as think creatively – Gergana Kiryakova, ANZ Director of Business Development

Empowering advice from fellow women in tech

Women in various roles within the tech industry are paving the way for future female talent to follow in their footsteps and their successes. So undoubtedly, when asked for advice for the next generation of women in tech, those I spoke with had a lot to say:

“Form a posse. Having a community, even just someone to talk to who has similar experience helps you support one another. Most of all, they’re a place where we help each other became out very best selves” – Uma Thana Balasingam, Co-Founder of Lean In Singapore
“There’s always an opportunity at every turn to challenge yourself – take every development opportunity that comes your way”Christina Tramonte, APAC Alliances Manager
“Show up in every single moment like you’re meant to be there”Roshni Roy, Business Development Manager
“I see women in all types of roles and leadership levels thrive in technology because they follow a passion” Alyce Erikson, APAC Product Marketing Manager
“Just do it! Don’t be shy, let you skills and results do the talking” Monica Ly, Co-Founder & Data Scientist

It is clear that there is a huge appetite for greater female representation in tech, and that innovative ways of working to support and educate women are no longer an afterthought, but a genuine part of organisations’ engagement strategy. At the centre of this, there is a network of incredibly talented women who are empowering others to take the leap and work their way up.

I'm always interested in speaking to more candidates who want an informal chat about the current tech landscape or to reach out about their own job search, or talent requirements. You can get in touch with me on Lucy.Nguyen@csgtalent.com.au or +61 (0)2 8651 8242