Does having more women working in technology really matter?
Of course it does! And here’s why…
Let’s start with the good news.
Yet while the percentage of women making up the engineering workforce has grown by 2% since 2015, the figure still stands at just 11%. Girls remain unlikely to read science at degree level. And disappointingly, the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe – less than 10%. Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus lead the way with nearly 30%.
We still have a very long way to go.
Making a difference
In this brave new world of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and automation, creative skills combined with a variety of ideas and approaches are key to success for any organisation. And empathy, collaborative behaviour and emotional intelligence – traditionally female traits and often underestimated – are assets to all industries, including technology.
STEM qualifications are not the only route into tech. I have spent all my career in this sector, yet I don’t hold a technology qualification – I have a degree in Accounting and Economics, plus an MBA – but this has not hindered my career prospects.
In my experience, the technology industry is dynamic, fun and a world where I can genuinely be myself. I have never felt out of place and don’t have to try to be someone else. I have a very interesting and fulfilling job where I can apply my strengths while taking risks and growing.
And best of all, I can balance all this with my role as a mum of two beautiful children.
Breaking the gender divide
During my time at Cisco, I have taken a year’s maternity leave for each child and worked part-time when my first child started school. Years later, I returned to full-time work.
All these changes in my circumstances took place while working for several different managers, so this has not been down to luck or having an understanding boss. Rather, it is how we run the business, leading by example, promoting flexible working and providing the tools needed to be able to work everywhere.
Why does this matter?
Workplace studies show that mixed-gender teams tend to achieve better results, and that companies with a critical mass of women on their boards often perform better than those without.
Cisco has made great progress here, bringing external female talent into the organisation, especially at the top. More than 50% of our CEO’s Executive team are women.
We know this is not the norm though; our industry lags well behind many others. There is however, a growing commitment to challenge the status quo. These include strategies designed to close pay gaps while reviewing promotion ratios and reporting on the benefits of diversity. CEOs also need to make an explicit link between talent and future business growth.
Changing the game
We must keep finding ways to encourage more female talent into the technology world, creating a new generation of women engineers, cybersecurity professionals, etc. and to do so, we need to celebrate difference and create environments where women can be themselves and just get on with being successful.
After all, diversity is good for everybody – not just women.
Maria is Head of Country Digitisation for Cisco UKI, visit https://cs.co/UKCDA to find out more about how we’re driving economic growth and innovation in the UK.Tags: