Sunday March 8th will mark International Women’s Day — and despite progress, the fields of science and technology still experience gender inequality.
Below is a commentary from a selection of female representatives from the technology sector, expressing their views on what can be done to advance their fields. These women play prominent roles in the success of their companies, and provide showcase examples of women spearheading technological innovation.
Today, we speak to Remonda Z. Kirketerp-Møller, Founder and CEO of RegTech company Muinmos. We also talk to Zenobia Godschalk, SVP of Communications at Hedera Hashgraph, and Sandra Hannon, Global Head of HR at Solve.Care.
Remonda Z. Kirketerp-Møller commented on the impact gender imbalances might have in the technology sector:
“A more gender equal team has been shown in studies to be better at problem solving, have better levels of productivity and encounter greater instances of coming up with “out of the box” solutions. I would like to think that my organisation innovates better by the equal presence of women, not less, because each member of the team has something different to offer and I avail myself to the opinions and ideas of both female and male.
We have read about instances where digital products were brought to production only for the tech manufacturer to realise that they lacked the fundamental insight to make the product suitable for women as well. These mistakes attributed to human error are ultimately costly, result in lost opportunities and certainly do not bear repeating.”
When asked about the gender equality gap for the technology industry, Remonda explained:
“We need to put diversity and inclusion at the heart of how we function in tech. Perhaps we should use technology itself to hinder our natural instinct for certain biases and therefore promote greater gender-equal opportunities. For example, the recruitment process could rely on technology as a gatekeeper to automate certain hiring decisions rather than rely exclusively on a human resources executive. There are algorithmic hiring solutions that assess potential candidates based solely on motivation rather than the photo on the CV, a name and so on.
I think you have to prove yourself more as a female Fintech founder – particularly as the financial services sector and Venture Capitalists tends to be very male dominated. There’s also the issue with investors that they worry about the time you will commit to the business as a female and if you will need to take time out for your family. I never let these attitudes bother me and have managed to succeed, and have a family, by remaining totally focused on my vision.On the positive side, being a female helps you to stand out in a male dominated sector. Provided that you are credible and knowledgeable, you get noticed and remembered far more as a female.”
Zenobia Godschalk said:
“The messaging around the need for the technology industry, and every industry for that matter, to close the gender equality gap and increase levels of female representation can sometimes get lost amongst the noise. This makes International Women’s Day truly valuable – it’s a chance to celebrate how far we’ve come, and to reflect on where we might be able to improve.
Gender imbalances in the technology sector can have a profound impact on our organizational outputs. For example, are the products being built with both male and female users in mind? Are both women and men equally represented in board meetings when major business decisions are being made? Are messaging and marketing drives created and executed with true representation of the vastly diverse audiences we now seek to target?
Increasing the levels of women in tech will greatly enhance innovation and create more sustainable success. Of course, education has a major role to play in increasing the pipeline of female scientists and technology specialists. On an everyday basis, by staying positive and taking the time to rethink how we work together, how we communicate, and how we make decisions at all levels and in all business functions when it comes to gender balance, we can challenge the status quo and achieve more than we had ever imagined.”
Sandra Hannon commented:
“Since 2004, Forbes has compiled a list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. It’s an impressive summary of females who have broken through gender barriers to claim positions in government, business, philanthropy and media. Whilst encouraging, these women would appear to be in the minority as across the globe women continue to fight for equality, to battle for the right to be given the same jobs and pay as men, with varying degrees of success.
For some, the issue of gender variety is one of moral fairness. They see a solution in the introduction of an obligatory ratio of women in business and politics. For others, the issue is not about removing the barriers for one group, it’s about making sure that everyone is given the opportunity to reach their full potential. Others still, see the issue as a strategic one–the workplace is becoming more heterogeneous and the workforce must reflect both society and the client base, or risk losing both to the competition.
So, how can we promote greater gender parity? Clearly, having prominent female role models leading global tech companies will help to break down the stereotypes and increase female participation in the industry. Mentorship programs are another promising avenue which have been shown to stimulate female involvement.
Ensuring that a career in tech is sustainable and rewarding for women is another challenge that the industry needs to address. Workplace culture and policies relating to work-life fit often make it difficult for women to maintain a career in tech, as not enough flexibility is afforded to employees who may wish to raise a family and continue pursuing their career. As a tech company, Solve.Care is determined to lead by finding ways to increase inclusion and ensure a solid gender balance within the organization as well as job grades–if only because, the current approach of locking out half of the talent pool from our workplace is simply unsustainable.
In time, one hopes that lists such as ‘Forbes Most Powerful Women’, will no longer be necessary as a means of reinforcing females, because our contribution, position and footing in society, business and politics will have become the accepted norm.”
To sum it up, we’ll include a comment from Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director at International Monetary Fund. She shared a video on LinkedIn, tagging #WomenAtWork and #EachForEqual:
“What advice would you give to your younger self? I see this often at work: women being hesitant or doubting their abilities. I felt the same way earlier in my career. I remember the meetings I sat in but didn’t speak, although I had something to say. I remember every time being invited to take on the task, doubting can I really do it, am I the best? We women tend to be less certain, so my message to my younger self and to all young women would be: Have confidence, believe in yourself! Yes, you can do it!”
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