This year I reached my ten year milestone. I’ve spent a decade working in technology marketing. During that time I’ve watched as the opportunities for women in the industry have ever so gradually improved.
When I started out it was still relatively rare to see a woman in the boardroom unless it was in a marketing or HR role. Now, when I go to a meeting, there’s a good chance I won’t just be talking to a sea of middle aged white males. Diversity and equality are making inroads. However, it irks me that women are still in the minority in the IT industry, especially when it comes to STEM-related roles.
Why do I care and why should you care?
Technology is now central to the way we work and the way we live our lives. Yet if we want to develop technologies that are relevant and support our future needs we are going to need women to be equal participants in this industry. Without this, our technologies will be developed from the limited perspective of a minority of the population. (It pays to remember that women account for slightly more than half of the people on this planet).
I also have a personal interest in pushing for a more equal workforce. I have a young god-daughter and I want the very best for her. When she grows up I don’t want her career options or earnings potential to be limited because of her gender. If she was in her teens right now, I’d be advising her to look to a future in analytics.
We keep being told data is the next gold mine. I see it in my own work. Data is the great untapped source of information and insight that exists within every company today. Everyone is trying to find ways to obtain value from it. Which is why demand for people with data management, analytic and related technical skills will sky-rocket in the coming years. I’d like to think my god-daughter could be part of this.
To make this future a reality we are going to need to encourage and better support women’s interest in data – from early school years through to university, when just starting out in the workplace and even when in management. It’s going to take time to eradicate the ridiculous and false premise that women aren’t interested in or can’t “do” analytics and technology.
Individuals, companies and the technology industry as a whole all have a role to play in effecting this change. Everyone one of us needs to lead by example.
Last year, the team at Yellowfin decided it was time we invested in creating the future we hope to see. We became sponsors of the Data Girls series of Australian workshops. Part of a global family of events, these workshops created a safe environment for women who have an interest in data, so that they could come along, learn a little about visualisation, analytics, data manipulation and more. Attendees found they could ask questions without being judged, without feeling self-conscious or foolish. The feedback was extraordinarily positive, to the extent that we have recommitted in 2018 and in a few weeks time, we’ll be convening the first of four Data Girls workshops for the year.
We’ve also become heavily involved as a sponsor for this year’s Women in Data event which appropriately enough, is being held on International Women’s Day, 8 March. While the conference will look at broad range of issues, one of the most important will be a discussion regarding the superannuation and pay discrepancies that exist between men and women.
As I noted at the very beginning, prospects for women in our industry have improved and events such as Data Girls and Women in Data can only help. But we are still a long way from gender equality in the technology industry. There is no reason why women shouldn’t pursue careers in data but it’s going to need the support and encouragement of every one of us to change the misconceptions of the past, and to create the opportunities I’d like to see for my god-daughter.
This International Women’s Day, I encourage you to think about what you and your company can do to make a difference. You’d be surprised how much every step counts.
Marketing Director – APAC