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The importance of mentorship for women in tech

Asian muslim female mentor teaching caucasian intern explaining computer work, mentorship concept

ARTICLE SUMMARY

The gender gap in tech careers is gradually closing, albeit at a frustratingly slow pace. Laura Rudd, Head of SEO at No Brainer, emphasises the vital role mentors play in shaping future female leaders in tech. By nurturing others, diversifying leadership teams, and openly sharing knowledge, the tech industry can continue to thrive.

Laura has over 20 years of experience in tech roles, specialising in SEO for the last 15.

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Building her career from the ground up, Laura is now an experienced and dedicated senior leader in the tech space and is passionate about delivering growth for clients through award-winning SEO and content strategies. Laura has a passion and genuine commitment to empowering others in her industry. Over the last 2+ years, she has dedicated herself to mentoring women in the tech industry across the globe, from the UK to Germany, and even the USA.

The Need for Women in Tech

With only 33% of women making up the tech-related workforce, the underrepresentation of women in the tech space is, unfortunately, a well-known reality. The disparity also extends to the academic world, with a recent study revealing that only 23% of students pursuing computer sciences at university level identify as female or non-binary.

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A slightly more optimistic trend emerges when looking into enrolment in engineering and technology courses, where the number of female and non-binary students has increased since 2017.

That all being said, the percentage shift from 21% in 2017/18 to 23% in 2022/23 is just too slow. Based on that trajectory, it would take more than 70 years to achieve gender parity in the field. That’s simply not acceptable.

It also came as no surprise to me when I checked out the stats on female representation in SEO; the trend aligns with what’s happening elsewhere. According to a 2020 study by Moz, out of 652 SEO professionals surveyed, 68.4% identified as male, while 29.3% identified as female.

So, if there’s no clear pathway to SEO or tech roles for women starting out on their career or considering something new, it’s never been more important to promote thought leaders and potential role models across the search marketing industry. Making SEO famous is key, but alongside that should be female representation – from articles published and webinars, to roundtables and conferences/speaker opportunities.

This is just one example of why mentoring matters for both the industry, as well as for women.

It’s true that some tech companies are managing to increase the number of female team members, but the snail-like pace of change only highlights the sector’s need for a universal effort to accelerate gender inclusivity – it really should be a priority for all.

Beyond those considerations, fostering diversity makes great business sense; research shows that businesses with diverse executive teams are 25% more likely to be profitable – that’s huge, and companies need to wake up to the opportunity.

Empowering Women to Thrive in Tech

Seeing the statistics of women in tech can sometimes be disheartening, but it’s also encouraging to see more and more women are believing in themselves and taking the plunge into a fantastic career in tech – but that’s why other women need to stand up and take the lead in inspiring others to join the tech space. Women like Areej AbuAli, Lily Ray, and Aleyda Solis – these wonderful SEO leaders are paving the way for others – being fantastic role models for women in tech, but also sharing their amazing knowledge and expertise with abundance (empowering all those around them).

Building on from thought leaders and role models, having a mentor who has walked in the same shoes and experienced similar challenges can make all the difference – and from my own personal experience, it has been immensely valuable to me in my career.

Of course, I have had many people help me along the way, being my cheerleader and supporting the growth in my career (which meant the world) – but there wasn’t an exact focus or plan. This realisation dawned on me about six years ago when I had my own mentor for the first time.

It opened my eyes to new perspectives, helped me navigate significant challenges in my career, and inspired me to keep pushing forward with a clear plan and sense of purpose.

Since then, I’ve had the privilege of being a mentor as part of the Women in Tech SEO community (founded by Areej AbuAli), which offers a free mentoring initiative. It’s an unbelievably brilliant community and has allowed me to support other women in tech because, fundamentally, we need to raise each other up!

Being a mentor isn’t just valuable for mentees; it’s one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. Knowing that I’ve helped support brilliantly talented women from all over the world when they needed it, and hopefully instilling in them the same outlook on the value of mentoring.

I strongly believe that everyone should have a mentor at some point in their career. Especially as women, where we can face ongoing challenges that are unique to us head on and have a plan on where we’d like to be. Having someone with that level of experience to help us find the right path is invaluable.

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

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