Recent movements like #MeToo and #MoveTheDial are highlighting the injustices that women face in the workplace every day. As women's stories are brought to light, the world is beginning to take notice of the gender imbalance in a wide variety of industries, beginning with the entertainment industry and recently highlighting our own industry, technology.
Even without looking at the statistics, it’s easy to see that women are a minority in the tech industry. Attend tech conferences and review the keynote speaker lineups and you’ll easily spot the lack of female voices.
6% of tech companies have a female CEO.
13% of tech executive team members are women.
8% of Directors on tech company boards in Canada are women.
Stats from #MoveTheDial, 2017
Diversity and inclusion are the only pathway forward to growing a successful business. Recent reports by Forrester state that “companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 33% more likely to have above-average financial returns. For gender diversity, that number is 21%.”
The numbers don’t lie: diverse teams are more innovative, make better decisions, and perform better financially. So why are so few companies responding to this challenge head on?
It’s likely because simply put, achieving true diversity is hard. It won’t happen overnight. Brenda Darden Wilkerson recently wrote for Entrepreneur, “We cannot hire our way out of the diversity gap, because women are leaving the tech industry faster than any company could ever hire them. Rather than blaming the pipeline, leaders need to work harder to create better environments that encourage women to stay.”
As a tech company, we have to challenge ourselves every day to create a working environment that enables women to succeed and grow. We have to remove the barriers that are causing women to leave the tech industry at such high rates. Diversity is not a problem to be solved quickly, it’s a value that must be instilled in an organization from the top down in order to see true change.
We sat down with a few of our own women in tech to discuss their experiences breaking into a traditionally male dominated industry to learn how they overcame hurdles to carve out a successful career in technology.
Sharon, Mobile Developer, Eventbase
When I was in university, I didn’t initially pursue tech. My decision to become a developer was partially motivated by my desire to prove the people who doubted me wrong. I’m so happy I did!
Sometimes it feels lonely or awkward being one of the few female developers here, even though I have an awesome group of co-workers who are always inclusive. All of the team leads at Eventbase have been a huge part of my growth, but we had a female developer who really believed in me. She gave me coding tasks, taught me about software development processes, and advised me in making decisions that furthered my career. It was so valuable to have a female role model in this field that could simultaneously challenge me professionally and empathize with me personally.
Don't question whether you belong in this industry. You will always have something to contribute to a team, as your experiences give you a totally different perspective on how to solve a problem.
Angela, VP Finance, Eventbase
I started my career in commercial real estate, but while I was on maternity leave my husband was just starting up Clio, a tech company that designs software for law practices. As a financial analyst, I learned that the tech industry really needed metrics-driven leaders who can participate strategically, rather than just accountants who look at your books at the end of the month.
A challenge that I’ve faced in working in a male-dominated industry is that some decisions and challenges that seem really obvious to me often go unnoticed by men. I was quite young when I started working in tech and I didn’t have the confidence to challenge people and speak my mind. Initially, I felt frustrated by that, but now I see it as kind of a super-power. As a woman, I automatically take a more big-picture look at the problem, the people, the key players.
I've usually been on an all-male leadership team, and I’m often the only woman making a decision at the executive level. At Eventbase we’ve recently grown our leadership team to 3 women, and that’s a positive change. But even as we see more women in leadership positions, boards are still often all male. You tend to conform a bit. You try not to, but if you’re around all men, you feel like you have to act like a man to succeed.
My biggest tip to women, especially women with families, is you have to exercise. Exercise keeps me grounded, it reduces anxiety, it helps me deal with emotions. Being physically strong allows me to be mentally strong. Before you’ve had children, you get used to burning the candle at both ends, and that’s just not scalable when you have kids. You’re working 2 full-time jobs, and you’re going to need help. Don’t feel guilty about that.
Tech is an environment where you're constantly forced outside of your comfort zone. It’s part of the business of innovation to constantly be iterating, failing, and learning from that failure. My best advice to women who are looking to pursue tech and have only ever been successful in life? Go out and fail. If you’re a perfectionist, as so many women are, you need to learn how to pull yourself out of your comfort zone and learn to gracefully and creatively fail.
Christina, Delivery QA Lead, Eventbase
I was always interested in video games, but it didn’t occur to me that I could turn that into passion a career. The school system failed me; I never learned it was possible for me to consider a career in technology. My friend was working as a game tester and encouraged me to break into the industry. I started working in mobile gaming when that was still really new, and enjoyed how every project was interesting and brief - I enjoyed the constant challenge of change.
When I first started with Eventbase, we had a female lead developer who I think changed the game for a lot of the woman here. It was really cool to see how confident she was, and how well she managed being a team lead. Before that, it had always seemed out of my grasp, so watching her was really inspiring. I’ve also had male mentors who have encouraged me and made sure I had the same opportunities, regardless of my gender.
Taylor, TPS Lead, Eventbase
I took a programming class in high school and instantly fell in love with it. I started working at EB Games and then went to Lighthouse Labs for their mobile development bootcamp. I was hired at Eventbase the week I graduated as a TPS. Ever since I started, I made it clear that I was serious about growing my career. Mike, our Sr. Director Software Development, approached me when the TPS Lead position came up and was very encouraging. He’s always driving people to better themselves, and in an industry where you won’t easily find a female mentor, it has meant a lot to me to have men that recognize my drive and encourage me to lead.
My advice to women getting started in tech is to not expect to know everything on your first day. There's always going to be gaps of knowledge, but you will learn something new every day. Tech moves fast and things will always be changing, but you’ll get better.
Lovedeep, Web Developer, Eventbase
My computing sciences classes in university were about a 40/60 female to male ratio, so I didn’t feel out of place right away. It wasn’t until my 3rd or 4th year and coop placement that I started noticing the women in my department dropping out, and that tech companies had mostly male employees. If I struggled to understand a concept, I noticed myself withdrawing. I started feeling imposter syndrome, and I thought I was the only one.
One thing that really helped me was meeting other women in tech who were further in their careers. We had a presenter from Google talk openly about her experiences with imposter syndrome. She told us that if we felt that way, we shouldn’t leave the industry, we should look for community.
Empowering women in event tech
Eventbase has been recognized by the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, celebrating workplaces that contribute to the wellbeing of women in the workplace. If you’re interested in joining our growing team, visit our careers page for available positions and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to stay up to date with the latest postings.