Our women in technology leadership talk representation and tech on International Women’s Day 2019

Happy International Women’s Day 2019!

Our series of blogs focusing on 5 women in technology roles at TSG was so popular for last year’s IWD that we thought we’d continue with the theme, but with a twist.

This year, our recent graduate Amelia Marson sat down with two of our female leaders at TSG – Clare Townsend, Service Desk Manager and Laura Heath, Head of Product Development – to talk about their experiences as women in the tech industry and how they think we can increase women’s representation in technology and improve equality more widely.

Women only make up 17.5% of the professional IT workforce (WISE), so it’s clear that there’s still a way to go in terms of levelling the playing field in the technology sector. Some point to the fact that girls are underrepresented in STEM subjects from a young age; only 20% of the students on Computer Science courses are girls.

It’s not just the STEM sectors where women are heavily underrepresented; as Laura highlights in our podcast, less than 10% of executive-level directors at FTSE 100 companies are women. The lack of representation is noticeable as a woman in a STEM leadership role, says Laura.

Clare and Laura both agree that in order to encourage women and girls into typically male-dominated industries and roles, we need to see not only more female role models in those spaces, but a focus on their achievements, particularly in a society that still primarily focuses on women’s looks. Celebrating women for their achievements is an essential step in normalising these career paths for young girls.

Because women are so underrepresented both in technology and in executive-level roles, it’s natural that women in those areas are role models by default; both of our leaders are comfortable with this and say that there is a lot of comradery amongst both women in tech and women in leadership roles. This is a definite positive against a backdrop of underrepresentation and having to work extra hard to prove yourself.

Laura is candid about the fact that she feels she’s had to work harder to get to where she is as a woman in STEM, but is proud of that because it makes her achievements bigger and better. Similarly, Clare believes women need to keep working hard and pushing to be the best they can be to break through into tech and leadership roles and prove that women deserve an equal share.

It’s essential to demonstrate that the rise of women in tech and society does not equate to the fall of men; Clare has been primarily mentored by men due to the industries she has worked in, while Laura believes that we shouldn’t put women in certain roles for tokenism; the best qualified people should be in the most appropriate roles. The challenge is encouraging women into these industries and giving them the support needed to progress; that’s how we’ll achieve better gender equality in technology.

As a woman in the technology industry myself, I really enjoyed this podcast. There are a lot of women in management roles at TSG that we can look up to – two of whom are Laura and Clare – and there’s a strong agreement that we feel fully supported by TSG. I think you’ll all love this podcast too – listen below: