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The benefits of actively encouraging more women to work in tech

Diverse Group Of People Having A Meeting in an Office, Women in Tech

ARTICLE SUMMARY

In this piece, Julie Cohen, Chief Executive Officer at Across the Pond, looks at the benefits of actively encouraging more women to work in tech.

IF YOU’RE A WOMAN WANTING TO GET INTO TECH, YOU CAN REST EASY – BECAUSE THE SECTOR NEEDS YOU MORE THAN YOU NEED IT.

In fact, a woman choosing a career in tech is a noble act. This is because tech’s future – and that of wider society – can only be assured by having diverse leaders, and that means women in top roles.

The first person to write an algorithm was a woman (Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician in the 19th century). Even so, the tech world continues to be dominated by men, and female role models are still rare. And the extremely harmful side effect of this is that tech can take on and even amplify the biases of its male creators.

Julie Cohen, Chief Executive Officer at Across the Pond

In this piece, Julie Cohen, Chief Executive Officer at Across the Pond, looks at the benefits of actively encouraging more women to work in tech. She unpacks the negatives of not enough women in tech, including how biases in tech can have an adverse impact; and the positives, including increased and accelerated humanisation of tech and tech experiences to the benefit of all.

Julie Cohen (she/her) is founder and CEO of Across the Pond, the independent global creative agency on a mission to help tech brands create a better world.

Cohen launched Across the Pond in 2008 with a brief from founding client Google to harness the power of the emerging medium of online video content. The agency has created numerous impactful, award-winning projects for clients including Google, DeepMind, Expedia, TikTok and Coinbase.

Across the Pond is one of just 0.1% of agencies globally to be founded and run by a woman, but Cohen’s habit of going against the grain doesn’t stop there. Business success never comes at the expense of her commitment to building a workplace culture which is second to none – prioritising DEI and psychological safety.

While her CV says Philadelphia born and raised, Cohen is now an expat and an entrepreneur. Prior to launching Across the Pond, Cohen was based in Paris, where she founded a production company which created entertainment content from Europe for the likes of NBC Universal and Warner Bros.

Cohen currently lives in London with her life partner and their blended family of 7.

CONSIDER HOW RELYING ON CRASH TEST DUMMIES ONLY BUILT IN MALE FORM INADVERTENTLY PUT FEMALE DRIVERS AT RISK.

Even mobile phones are designed for man-sized hands – an inevitable side effect of a male-dominated product design team.

Practically speaking, the effects of bias in tech touches our lives from the very mundane all the way through healthcare to what our future holds. Experts warn that Artificial Intelligence models hold biases in healthcare that can disadvantage women and ethnic minorities, with life or death consequences. 

Tech’s influence in our lives is growing at incredible speed, which can be an amazing thing for our world and our lives if we humanise it inclusively.

More women in tech is also good for business. Studies show that companies with more female leaders perform better commercially and are more innovative. Women also tend to make better leaders than men, with women scoring higher than men on key leadership qualities.

The need for more women and people from different ethnic backgrounds in tech is urgent. Fortunately, the sector is waking up to this. Many tech companies trying to address the industry gender imbalance have signed up to the Tech Talent Charter, a UK government-backed initiative that commits businesses to adopting practices to create a more diverse workforce.

At Across the Pond, we’re working with DeepMind to specifically direct their recruitment messaging at women.

Google, another client of ours, hosts Women@Google, it’s largest Employee Resource Group, which drives gender equality and promotes positive representation of women in tech. Meanwhile, to address the shortage of women in cybersecurity, Microsoft has announced that it is partnering on a number of programmes aimed at boosting representation.

For anyone wanting to advance their career in tech or get on the first rung of the ladder, a key piece of advice is: don’t try to fit in to get ahead. Resist the temptation to assimilate or play down your difference. Focus on what you can add to your employer’s business, not how you can fit in.

Having the core skills listed on the job spec is good but that alone won’t enable you to beat the competition. Your unique talent and point of view is what will make you stand out. So, embrace your individuality, and what your female perspective and experience brings, and understand the value of that for your employer.

If you want to move into a position where you don’t feel you have the right skills, don’t let fear deter you. We talked to a range of inspiring female leaders in the industry for our content series Women In Tech. In her interview, TikTok’s Head of Business Marketing, Nod Virayasiri, noted that many women hold back from taking on something new because they don’t think they’re qualified.

If this is you, Virayasiri has this advice: “We’ll never find out if we’re truly qualified if we don’t get out of our comfort zone and try. Taking risks is not about career development, it’s about self-discovery.”

Remember, tech is now a fundamental part of business in every sector, so getting into tech doesn’t mean you have to launch your own tech start-up or work for a tech giant. Tech roles are available at all levels in industries from health and banking to advertising and retail.

If you have big ambitions, don’t be afraid to express them and act on them. Bring your activism, passions, and imagination to the table. Tech can play a big role in tackling many of the world’s issues and helping people and communities. But the industry needs creative thinkers to do this.

As Lenovo marketer Rebecca Wang, another of our inspiring Women In Tech, puts it: “To me, tech means life changing, problem solving, being intuitive – and it is the proof point that someone’s imagination was brought to life.”

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