Recently, for International Women’s Day, we hosted a webinar with women in the industry to discuss their experiences and challenges.
Our host for this webinar was Beth Todd, a Senior Business Development Manager here at Kaplan, and a huge advocate for women in technology. Beth was joined by our guests, Rebecca Lee and Pip Wilson.
Rebecca is the Head of Business Support at JCDecaux. In her role she helps roll out new applications, processes, and integrations with other technologies in the business.
Pip is the co-founder of Amicable, a tech-services firm focusing on divorce without lawyers. But this isn’t the first company she co-founded. After seeing a gap in the market, she co-founded a B2B SAP consultancy, which grew to around 300 people before being sold in 2015.
Here’s a summary of some of the main points captured from the discussion.
The importance of education
Rebecca’s journey to her current position wasn’t particularly linear. 5 Years after leaving college with a qualification in nursery nursing, she was hired as a Personal Assistant. During this time, she took night classes which helped her land a job on an IT help desk. Since then, she has worked her way up through various roles to become the Head of Business Support.
Having no formal technical qualifications, Rebecca jumped at every training or class offered along her career journey. Focusing on the business adoption of IT, she believes it’s beneficial to use any opportunity to learn new skills, and to utilise formal qualifications alongside the learning of softer skills.
Pip's journey was a bit different, in her first job out of uni they made sure everyone learnt how to code no matter what their background, and she feels that this helped propel her through her career. She believes that having the ability to code can help you solve problems on a day-to-day basis.
Pip explains how just having a grounding in technology allows you to not be afraid of it and helps you to understand how you can apply it to problems. Your knowledge means you know what solutions there are and where to go to find out the information you need, which is a valuable skill from a business perspective.
Keeping up with technology
Younger generations have grown up with technology so the fear of working with computers and applications isn’t as daunting as it used to be. But what should be communicated is how varied the space now is, so it is key for people to continually develop and take any opportunities to learn new skills. If you like the idea of working in a fast paced environment where things are constantly changing, then technology is for you.
Pip also touches on the subject of returning to work. Whether it be for maternity, looking after a family member, or simply requiring some personal time. Explaining that the fear of rejoining the workspace can be quite daunting, but how this can be a great time to retrain and upskill, with plenty of tailored courses now available specifically for those looking to return to work.
With recent world events, and the advancement in collaborative technologies, the business environment is in a much different place than it was a few years ago. The ability to work remotely and retrain from home has made creating opportunities more abundant and has made the jump back into a career a little easier.
Working in tech isn’t just for men
Technology is still perceived as something that men do. Stereotypes need to continue to be broken down as to what someone in tech looks like and does on a day to day basis.
Pip comments that this awareness has to come from every angle. From changing the masculine language of job descriptions for technical roles, to girls in schools being encouraged from younger ages, to not writing off a technical career path.
She explains how International Women's Day is a great time to help highlight and raise awareness around particular topics, as well as celebrate the achievements of Women and raise the profile of female role models.
Rebecca went on to say how the occasion is also a great opportunity to reflect on your own career and the colleagues around you, and how you can support each other in a male dominated space.
How can businesses support women rights and encourage more women in tech?
Pip is a strong advocate for closing the gender pay gap and women returning to work, explaining that it isn't just about businesses encouraging women more, we also need to do the opposite. As a society we need to make it more acceptable for men to take more time off to raise a family, for it to be more equal at home.
Removing the expectation that raising families has to be done in a traditional way will in turn reduce the gap in careers for women, and help to level the playing field. Although some businesses are offering this equal opportunity for parental leave, it won’t create full equality until it becomes the norm in society.
However, Rebecca points out that with the development of hybrid working becoming more common, this can help catapult this ideal and support those who may not be able to return to the office full time to return to work sooner with more flexibility.
When looking at hiring more women into tech based roles, businesses will need to be creative. With 9 out of 10 qualified candidates likely being male, and lots of competition to hire women in technology, businesses will need to offer options to support potential female hires with training or even flexibility, to improve their gender diversity.
Importance of diversity in solving problems
It’s really important that the people who are solving problems are reflective of society in general, so it’s vital to increase the number of women in these roles, as well as those from a diverse background.
Having diverse teams can really help to bring a good balance of perspective and ways of working. Research shows that a diverse workforce not only provides a better understanding of customers or clients, but also increased employee retention, improved productivity, greater innovation, and also gives your company a wider talent pool to pick from.
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