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International Women’s Day: Time for Action

IWD

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Explore the evolution of International Women’s Day and the ongoing quest for gender equality in the technology sector. Discover insights from industry leaders, challenges women face, and proactive steps needed for a more inclusive future.

International Women’s Day acts as a marker each year, an opportunity to pause and reflect.

As  Shirley Knowles, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer at Progress, explains: “It is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and to call for gender equality and women’s rights.”

International Women’s Day

She continues: “It also raises awareness about the challenges and discrimination that women continue to face around the world and serves as a catalyst for change and action. By recognising and honouring women’s contributions and achievements, International Women’s Day empowers women and inspires future generations to continue fighting for gender equality and justice.”

Ultimately, the day is a chance to assess how far gender equality has come, but also how far it still has to go. The technology sector in particular needs this moment – having historically been an area that lags behind the rest of the world when it came to this issue. Even today, women only make up 26% of the tech workforce in the UK.

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So what can be done to challenge this state of affairs? We spoke to five women working in the technology sector to get their thoughts on the challenges women still face in the sector, and what can be done to change things.

Room for optimism

Whilst the statistics can paint something of a gloomy picture, the women we spoke to made clear that progress has definitely been made.

International Women’s Day“Since starting a career in marketing, I’ve consistently found myself drawn to the technology sector,” Imogen Ganjou, Marketing Executive at Aqilla, outlines. “Throughout this experience, I have observed the historical underrepresentation of women in this domain. However, I have noticed that the landscape is evolving, and more women are finding their place in this dynamic field. 

“During my time at Aqilla, I’ve witnessed firsthand the critical role diversity and inclusion play in driving innovation and business growth. Women bring unique perspectives and skills to the table, enriching development and marketing strategies. The diverse voices and experiences of individuals from various cultures and genders serve as the foundation for generating new ideas and overcoming challenges.”

Vera Wolf, VP of Sales EMEA at Zerto, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, agrees that despite the challenges ahead, we should take pride in how far the industry has come. “The tech industry has made significant progress with bringing more women and girls into the field in recent years,” she says.

International Women’s Day“International Women’s Day highlights these improvements but is also a solemn reminder that we still have not reached the goal of gender equality.

“Having said this, I remain optimistic that we are continuing to move in the right direction. Over the last five years, we see that the number of female tech employees beginning their careers is rising. Organisations are increasingly promoting diversity in decision-making roles and working to address remaining inequalities around career advancement and compensation for women. The media has also played an important role in this evolution by drawing increased awareness to the wide variety of opportunities available to women.”

Time for action

Of course, just because progress has been made, does not mean further action isn’t needed. It’s crucial that both individuals and organisations continue to take action year-round if we’re to continue the upwards trend.

International Women’s Day“A lot of the important work needs to be done at an educational level in schools,” Carolyn Medland, Senior Director, Associate Success at Blue Yonder explains, as “for many people, the trajectory of their careers is already in motion by the time they enter university, so organisations should be engaging in programmes that are aimed at girls in school, enflaming their imaginations about the wonder of technology and how women have shaped the world.”

Agreeing, Hannah Birch, Managing Director – Digital at Node4, adds: “There is still more work to be done to make STEM careers accessible to girls and encourage them to continue on this path after education. Many will choose not to study STEM, even if they are passionate about it, because it continues to be perceived as a male-dominated arena and they don’t see a future career in the industry.

International Women’s Day“This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Inspire Inclusion’ and inspiring the next generation is something we should be doing more of. Schools and technology companies should be working together to present STEM options as fulfilling and exciting careers for women. As a former governor at a school, and a woman in tech, I love talking to young people about my career. So many girls are surprised when I talk them through a typical day in my life and tell me that they never realised what a versatile and interesting career it could be. But too often these conversations are happening too late, once they have already chosen their subject options and have a plan for their further studies and career. It is crucial we start having these conversations with girls earlier on in their education for when they make decisions that set them up for the future.”

As well as encouraging more women into tech, more work is needed to ensure that they have equal opportunities once they get there. Karine Calvet, VP Partners EMEA at AVEVA, argues that “to cultivate change, organisations need to demonstrate a genuine commitment to alleviating these barriers, putting beliefs into action.

International Women’s Day“At AVEVA, we’ve set out to increase women’s representation in leadership and decision-making by implementing clear targets to increase gender representation by 2030,” she continues. “These include growing the percentage of women hired to 50% and reducing the gender pay gap to under 1%. To supplement these targets, we’ve rolled out a number of initiatives, such as interview skills training to ensure our recruitment and selection practices follow DEI best practices. We’ve also set up EmpowHER@AVEVA: a returnship program to help women on a career break to restart their professional journey.”

The AI revolution

Over the past year, stories about AI have dominated the news cycle. Claims around what the future of the technology will hold have varied widely, with some experts predicting a technological revolution that will transform every industry, while others urge caution. However the future of AI plays out, it’s clear that the new technology is here to stay, and it’s likely to have a big impact across many organisations.

International Women’s DayWhen it comes to gender equality, this brings with it both a huge opportunity and a significant risk. “AI clearly has the potential to both positively and negatively impact gender equality in the workforce, depending on how it’s developed, implemented, and regulated,” explains Connie Stack, CEO of Next DLP. “It can help identify and mitigate biases in hiring, promotion, and performance evaluation processes. AI-powered tools and platforms can provide personalized learning and skill development opportunities, helping women acquire in-demand skills for high-tech and traditionally male-dominated fields.

“Additionally, AI-driven automation can enable more flexible work arrangements, such as remote work and flexible scheduling, which may benefit women who often face greater caregiving responsibilities. Inversely, if algorithms are trained on biased data or developed without appropriate oversight, it may lead to job displacement and widening gender inequalities in the workforce.”

Stack believes that: “To ensure that AI supports gender equality in the workforce, it is essential to foster diversity in AI development, transparency and accountability in AI decision-making, and fairness and equality in AI policies and regulations.”

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