Women in Tech 2020 – Your Views: Part 2

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020 License Dashboard is releasing a series of articles featuring the voices of men and women within the technology industry. We have had an incredible response and have selected some great examples of our participants’ thoughts to highlight throughout this series. Welcome to Part two featuring:

Lisa Boerger – PMO Manager, Great American Insurance Group Nick Hallam – SAM Service Delivery Manager, Bytes Software Ashley O’Neill – UK Marketing Manager, Proactis Geoff Worsley – Independent SAM Consultant


Catch up on part one here

Q: It’s now well known that a lot of industries have been highlighted due to pay gaps between men and women, do you think this is the same within the IT industry?

Lisa Boerger: Absolutely. IT spaces continue to have managers, directors and executives be more men than women. I also see where men are more likely to push for a higher salary — and get it — versus women. It’s a complex problem that isn’t as simple as just a “wage gap”.

Nick Hallam: Yes. Whilst the numbers of men to women seem equal (to my mind) and there are some women in management positions; in the general IT consultancy populace I’d say there are more women in lower-paid/support roles which skews the numbers.

Ashley O’Neill: That’s hard to tell as there isn’t a huge amount of transparency in terms of what people receive for equivalent roles and how that equates to gender.

Geoff Worsley: Less so generally, perhaps there is a gap the higher you are in the organization

Q: In recent years there has been an influx of women in all workplaces, but it’s not equal to men, men are 30% more likely to be promoted to a managerial position than women. Why do you think this is and what can organizations do to prevent discrimination and maintain equality when looking at hiring, salaries and promotions?

Lisa Boerger: I believe that women tend to have a different leadership and managerial style that matches with past or traditional thinking. This makes it harder to land those positions, outside of any other bias. I know in my own experience; this has come from other female managers/leaders who themselves fought to get to where they are and yet are just perpetuating the old system. As women, we have to do more to change this system as much as we need to mentor and support the other women around us. Changing that system means much more than just looking at promotion rates, but at how we evaluate others and how we do so on the right scale.

Nick Hallam: Education, education and punitive disciplinary rules where cronyism/nepotism or discrimination is found to have taken place after education has been provided. Equality only works if everyone starts from the same place and needs the same help. I think it’s clear that we need to apply some effort towards Equity instead – might not be well-accepted but rather than helping some more than others, this approach just levels the playing field for all.

Ashley O’Neill: I think we need to address the (often subconscious) mindset that men are more likely to hold senior leadership positions rather than women and actively encourage this ambition for both genders. I read that women are less likely than men to apply for senior roles if they do not feel that they meet 100% of the criteria. This strikes a chord with me as I feel that in the past, I’ve had a tendency to focus on what I can’t do, rather than on what I can. As women, we need to be more confident in our own abilities and believe in our own potential to succeed, rather than playing into outdated perceptions of being ‘less capable’. On a recent course I attended, the tutor was asked about how to be heard as a female leader. His response has stuck with me – embrace the skills that make you stand out and which have traditionally been perceived as a weakness – e.g. femininity, emotions etc. They are strengths and bring new perception and depth to the world of business and the role of a leader.

I also often find that those in traditional ‘finance’ positions seem to point up to board positions over other areas of the business – perhaps more coaching and mentoring is needed to help other areas of the business have a seat at the table.

Geoff Worsley: I don’t know how to prevent discrimination, maybe another generation it will be less. There are too many people stuck with historical mindsets.

Q: Have you witnessed woman facing challenges because of their gender within working environments?

Nick Hallam: Low-level undermining behaviour but I have not witnessed direct and blatant discrimination. But the insidious nature of this compounds into a larger problem if not addressed.

Geoff Worsley: Yes, but equally I have witnessed promoting women without the necessary experience so that they have the right number of women in roles – this is a bigger problem and has horrendous results on morale.

Q: What’s the biggest professional challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

Lisa Boerger: Figuring out my next step after achieving my first big professional goal has been a continued challenge. I’ve had the fortune, or difficulty, in being in a role and industry that are still developing and so the role I might have tomorrow may not exist. That’s exciting, but at the same time, hard to plan and vision for how to get to the next step when that next step isn’t there yet.

Ashley O’Neill: Myself! My self-confidence has (and can still be) a blocker for me. Over the years I have worked on this (and probably always will), focusing on being taken seriously as a young female leader and being able to get across my point of view and to challenge anybody, regardless of their position, without appearing defensive.

Q: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to women starting out in the IT industry?

Lisa Boerger: Work smarter, not harder — know where your effort is really needed or impactful and focus on that work. Be a collaborator — the biggest thing needed in IT is good communication and collaboration. It is, by nature, a divisive and siloed area and needs people who can translate to non-IT and collaborate across a wide variety of people. Find confidence in yourself — it’s too easy to let the noise of those in your immediate organization, even mentors and managers, skew your view of yourself. We all make mistakes and you’ll know a good culture when mistakes — and the learning that comes out of them — are looked at as an opportunity to improve rather than to punish.

Nick Hallam: I don’t think I should be offering advice really, but I suppose I would encourage Intolerance (in deference to my previous answer). Do not tolerate unacceptable behaviour to any extent; confront, engage and drive change.

Ashley O’Neill: Embrace development opportunities and feedback, but never lose sight of what makes you unique. There will always be somebody who sees things differently to you, and that’s not only ok, it’s a really good thing – imagine how one-dimensional businesses would be if everybody thought the same way. Stay true to yourself, believe you can, and don’t be afraid to take risks and take yourself out of your comfort zone – in fact, I actively encourage it!

Geoff Worsley: You can do it! Get a mentor and do it!

Thank you to all of our respondents. If you have any advice or tips for more diversity in the IT industry please let us know if the comments below.

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Ben Murden

Ben Murden

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