In recent years, International Women’s Day has presented an opportunity to highlight the issue of gender diversity in the workplace, with successful, high-level women engaging with the movement to ensure that all genders are celebrated for their achievements.
While there has been strong progress to close the gender gap in large tech businesses today, there is definitely still some way to go: if we look at ‘Big Tech’ companies in particular, notably the GAFAM group of Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, women are still largely unrepresented. In the US, for example, women still make up less than 50% of the workforce for all of these companies.
Something that is important to help bring about change is giving women a platform to discuss their experiences and pass on advice to other women looking to progress in their careers. With this in mind, we’ve collated a series of a series of insights from high-level and influential women in order to help inspire and facilitate growth so that we can continue to see progress in the years to come:
Stefanie Grossman, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Prezi
"It is unfortunate that, even in today’s modern world, stereotypes still exist. In my career as a female marketer, I’ve certainly felt them along the way. I remember going shopping before starting my first job in strategy consulting, and buying a whole bunch of very expensive, very menswear-looking suits thinking that I would need to wear them to be accepted in my new role. A great visual example of how women try to fit into a male-dominated industry! My advice to my younger self - and anyone in a similar situation today - would be to stay true to yourself. Don’t bend and twist who you are just to try and fit in.
"It is also important to remember that companies worth working at not only will accept you for who you are, but gain great value from having a diverse employee base. Organisations that want to create a truly diverse workforce can do a number of relatively small things that can have a big impact on the kind of candidates that will knock on their door. They should, for example, ensure the language in their job descriptions is gender neutral and doesn’t turn away female candidates. Studies have proven that certain words can turn off certain genders and this is something we actively edit for at Prezi. I’m excited to continue furthering our Women at Prezi employee resource group to help our female colleagues and male allies be #EachForEqual.”
Sonja Gittens Ottley, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Asana:
“Celebrating women one day a year will not resolve gender inequality because it’s a systemic, complex problem. As a first step, we need to learn to challenge gender bias every single day. One way to get there is to cultivate a working environment that welcomes hard conversations about what it means to be a woman in the workplace. And these conversations have to take place across the entire organization, not just in small pockets or within the executive team. When we make a habit of asking questions, sharing stories, and learning from our combined experiences, we build trust, consistency, and accountability - three key ingredients for female allyship. The only way to get better answers is to ask better questions.”
Gali Arnon, Chief Marketing Officer at Fiverr:
#EachforEqual is this year’s International Women’s Day theme. There is also a focus mission ‘to increase the visibility of female creatives’ which highlights the significance of the freelance economy in forging a gender equal world. This type of work has allowed women to have more freedom and control over their work as female freelancers experience more equal pay.
In recent years, we have seen a 63% rise in highly skilled female freelancers in the UK; the creative industry in particular has seen women being championed. At Fiverr, we found that female freelancers are earning almost 20% more than male freelancers. On our digital platform, women are making more money both overall and on a per project basis than men.
To create an environment where gender is not an object of consideration, individuals should be judged based on the credentials on their profile, a visible portfolio, and reviews from past clients. On freelancing platforms, sellers are more often than not judged on the quality of work rather than their gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion.
The freelance economy has been instrumental in the journey to equality and empowering women in the creative sector to break the glass ceiling. Having a technology driven freelance economy has played a positive role in creating an ‘#EachforEqual’ world.”
Dr. Kate Hilyard, COO at Healx:
“It is understood that there are major differences in the perception and engagement of job adverts by each gender. Research has shown that women will only apply to jobs when they meet 100% of the role criteria, yet men apply when they cover only 60%. To address this imbalance, we need to carefully choose the right language for job descriptions, making them unbiased and ultimately giving women the confidence to apply for roles they may have disregarded.
“Another consideration is the candidate selection and interview processes. These processes must be carefully planned, in order to ensure that they remain inclusive and unbiased. Everyone is susceptible to unconscious bias, but businesses can only improve the selection and interview processes once they become inwardly aware and open up to different ideas and feedback.
“At Healx, it’s so important to us that we continue being diverse when recruiting. In the fast-developing field of AI technology in drug discovery and development, we can only attract the best talent by being as open as possible.”
Jaana Metsamaa, Lead Product Manager at Pipedrive:
“The inclusivity of individuals is something we should not only celebrate on International Women’s Day but every day - no matter their gender, ethnicity, sexuality or citizenship. Achieving greater equality will not only impact the individual success of businesses today but future-proof the next generation of employees.
“To make this a reality, we must build a foundation that determines both what businesses and individuals do for women, and as women. For women, we must recognize that unconscious bias exists in our every day and take the appropriate steps to refrain from making these judgments. It is critical that we forge a gender-equal landscape, as the implications of this prejudice impact both the biased party and the victim. In organisations, this unchecked bias can influence decision making, a common example of which is favoring to hire candidates of a particular gender.
"And as women, it’s about changing your mindset. Instead of thinking of yourself or your gender’s entry into an industry as ‘breaking into’ or ‘smashing the glass ceiling’, which suggests your end-goal is somewhere you don’t belong; you must alter your perception of what you can and can’t achieve in your career. To achieve equality, both businesses and individuals alike must address and support what they do for women, and as women to push for that change.”
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