Tech leaders share their thoughts on this year’s International Women’s day theme—#BreaktheBias—and how we can break biases in the workplace.
Regardless of the promises of equality echoing throughout the headlines for International Women’s Day, there is still a lot of work to be done to eliminate gender disparities.
Arti Raman, founder and CEO at Titaniam
Upon reflection of my role as a female founder of a tech company, I realize that I am one drop in the bucket in the widespread market of technology founders. Yet when I show up to events, it never ceases to astonish me how rare it is to find other women in this space with me. I have been to conferences where I’ve skimmed through the speaker list and found myself to be the only female in the lineup. When I went to present to the audience of 50, there were two women in the room with me. This is statistically supported, with women making up 28% of the STEM workforce and research which shows that girls tend to lose interest in sciences and technology subjects when they are as young as 12.
One of the most important things I will ever do as a woman is be a role model. That is, to stand where I am, as a proud woman in technology, and to believe in the next generation of girls choosing their careers, and the women already in the workforce with interest in joining the field. I am where I am because people down the line believed in me, and knew that I could do the things I set out to do – from getting my advanced mathematics training to creating my encryption technology to filing for patents to founding the company with those products. I stand where I am now, with the message to girls and women everywhere that it doesn’t matter what is expected of you or what society tells us we should accomplish based on our gender. I want girls and women everywhere to know that they are good enough, and they can do it. More so, I would love it if you did. I would love to see you here, in this space, with me. We need you.
Anne Tiedemann, SVP, people & investor relations at Glasswall
“International Women’s Day is an important topic – so much positivity comes out of it, but it also highlights that there is so much more to do. It is up to both women and men in leadership positions to push for equal and diverse workforces and support women in their employment. Women need to feel they have the support and encouragement to use their voices and be heard by their colleagues.
However, one of the main barriers to women’s equality in tech is attracting talent in the first place. The key to this is early education, exposure, and flexibility. Engaging and sharing experiences with students and other young women will inspire them to follow suit and highlights that women can have successful technology careers. Similarly, providing opportunities to train and explore the industry will engage more young women and open doors for a successful career. Offering benefits, such as flexible working, will also help retain female staff once they are part of the industry. As many of our female staff are mothers, and some of them the sole guardians of their children, it is important that we offer them flexibility in their working routines to balance all aspects of their lives.
I am very fortunate to be part of a company run by a CEO who embraces diversity. Since 2016, the number of women at Glasswall has grown by 700%. And this continues to increase – we are seeing much more diverse talent pools. When candidates are equal on every technical measure, we make conscious recommendations to balance the team. After all, we have experienced firsthand that a diverse workforce benefits from better collaboration and improved communication.”
Sharon Forder, SVP marketing at Glasswall
“International Women’s Day is an opportunity for women to recognise and be recognised by their peers, creating a forum that empowers women to champion the values females bring to the workplace. Women have many unique qualities which are invaluable in the workplace but are sometimes overlooked including compassion, empathy and ability to multi-task which are often bourne out of the need to juggle multiple roles especially balancing home / work / family duties.
“I think some of the barriers for women entering tech are the perception that it remains a male-dominated sector and this starts from the shape of the leadership team down. If I reflect on all the tech companies I have worked with over a 25 year period, roles such as engineering, sales and executive leadership are still heavily male influenced. Promoting women leaders in tech and championing the opportunities tech provides for women across all functions is an important part of helping to make tech more attractive to women. Create a culture that embraces flexible working, articulates the importance of work / life balance and discourages the ‘always on’ mindset that can be prevalent in tech.
“Using language that is female inclusive and draws out the benefits in job descriptions is also key. Practising what you preach by actively promoting females into leadership roles and helping them to become part of the ‘face of the company’ will contribute to breaking down the long-standing perceptions of ‘it’s a male-dominated sector’.”
Andrea Edmonds, CPA, CGMA, chief financial officer at Cyber Security Works
“I have been engaged in information technology for the last 25 years. With the growth of the global internet of things, it was clear that a robust cyber defense was necessary. I spent the first 20+ years of my career at Arthur Andersen, PwC, and Intel. I left the corporate world in 2017 to join my first startup. I was fortunate to receive two offers from cyber startups, and I knew a cyber investment fund manager. I shared that I was looking for challenge and collaboration in culture, and he recommended the New Mexico firm, RiskSense. I joined RiskSense as I am passionate about startups in New Mexico, my home state.
At RiskSense, I met the founder, Srinivas Mukkamala, who has been a mentor since. The culture at RiskSense allowed me to move from accounting/finance to help marketing and sales work on significant business challenges. I also met the co-founder of Cyber Security Works (CSW), Ram Movva, in 2018 as RiskSense worked with CSW as a close partner. I was honored to be offered the CFO role at CSW in 2021 when CSW opened its US headquarters. The mentors I have worked with through my cybersecurity journey have made all of the difference in my career. I am honored to work with passionate, open-minded, and intelligent people in a dynamic field on these significant cyber challenges.
On CSW how is breaking the bias with regards to gender disparity in the cybersecurity industry:
“We are working to increase women’s awareness of cybersecurity as a great career field for women. We are hiring a diverse leadership team through mentoring and hiring women into leadership roles. We see more and more women join the company every day.”
Julie Giannini, chief customer officer, Egnyte
“This year on International Women’s Day, we celebrate women all over the world who pushed forward in an effort to #BreakTheBias so others could thrive. While the journey is far from over – with women in leadership remaining underrepresented and gender biases still prevalent across many industries – we can take the time to celebrate the women who got us here, as well as those who keep pushing.
I’ve seen this not only in my own family through the hard work of my mother, who immigrated to the US and is still working as an interpreter at 85, but also in all of the women who have inspired me over the years. A longtime colleague and mentor of mine often saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself and was able to help me adjust my career path along the way. Her support and advice made it easier to navigate the unpredictability of life.
The recent Winter Olympics was a palpable reminder of how everyone wins when they can get to their own starting line. Beginnings can look different for everyone, but running your own race and doing it intentionally, and with care, will inspire those around you to achieve more. As leaders, we must always be prepared to elevate others and push everyone to their full potential. This makes all of us stronger.”
Gal Helemski – CTP/CPO at PlainID
“International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate successful women in technology — and all career fields — while also seeking to make changes to ‘break the bias’ we still see when it comes to making career choices. While there has been an influx of women pursuing careers in technology, women only make up 11% of the global cybersecurity industry with less than 1% of them in C-suite leadership positions.
Taking leadership roles in cybersecurity is important for everyone, but sometimes women don’t view it as an option. I’m proud to be in leadership for a company that now consists of more than 40% of women. I’m grateful that I’ve showcased that it is possible to succeed as a woman in technology, and I hope to encourage more women to pursue careers in cybersecurity.”
Holly Grey, CFO, Exabeam
“This year, let’s make an effort to be more understanding of all that working moms do. As a working mother myself in an executive role, it can be a daily struggle to find a balance between work and my family. For myself and many others, the lines between work and personal life have blurred during the new work from home reality, and it can be harder than ever to give work and family the attention they each deserve.. The new types of demands brought on by COVID-19 drove working mothers to leave their jobs or be forced out in droves. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau determined that 10 million mothers living with school-age children were not actively working in January 2021 – 1.4 million more than during January 2020, pre-pandemic.
I want to remind everyone on International Women’s Day that it’s important for organizations to be mindful of the women in their teams who may also be grappling with parenting duties, which so often fall squarely on their shoulders. In my career, I’ve learned to look at all I’m juggling and think to myself, ‘What are the glass balls, and what are the rubber balls?’ and use that to prioritize and push back on things that we can be a little more flexible on.
Leadership can use the same thought process when managing employees so they, regardless of gender, can strike a healthy balance between family and work life. Everyone has stressors, and having a team that supports each and every member and their individual challenges goes a long way in being better coworkers, leaders and parents.”
Samantha Humphries, head of security strategy EMEA at Exabeam:
On early education and STEM subjects:
“There is no question that women face numerous barriers in the workplace that their male counterparts do not, but the biggest obstacles women face often start long before they enter formal employment. Young girls face conscious and unconscious bias throughout their entire schooling and as a result, often overlook or are actively discouraged from pursuing STEM subjects. But, is encouraging girls to participate in traditional STEM subjects the only way forward? I’m a big supporter of adding an ‘A’ for ‘Arts’ to the acronym. Creativity is needed across the board in tech roles, and often girls do levitate towards these kinds of subjects. If we did a better job of promoting the importance of creative thinking in technology, we could inspire more women and girls into the industry – both as they begin their careers, and to join the industry later in life too.”
On workplaces championing gender equality:
“Organisations need to build a work environment that champions gender equality by starting at the top. For example, look at your board and your executives – are they representative of the workforce you want to have? If I’m approached by an employer, I dive straight towards their website’s company pages. If its leadership team is a catalogue of white men, alarm bells immediately start to ring. This doesn’t necessarily mean all companies should implement strict hiring quotas, but organisations that demonstrate their value for diversity via their leadership are a much more attractive option when looking for new employment.”
On gender parity and the importance of diversity:
“Gender parity not only benefits women wanting to go into science and technology, but it also has so much to offer the companies that are willing to strive for it. Einstein once said, ‘we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them’. Diversity of thought comes from the diversity of people. So for example, if you were to hire all your employees from one university, one class background, one gender and one race, chances are you’re going to end up with a business severely lacking in diversity of thought – and this will stunt your success. Gender is only one stream of diversity for sure, but ensuring women are paid and rewarded equally for the work that they do is frankly the bare minimum towards hiring and retaining them and this will ultimately end up benefiting all parties”.
Wanda Miles, manager, PMO at Exabeam
“On International Women’s Day and beyond, we must remember that more diverse teams lead to higher revenue. Companies should have long been regarding diversity as a core goal not only in terms of demographics and representation, but also in terms of business objectives. Those that do set themselves up to thrive, as in the case of Exabeam.
In 2013, Exabeam created the ExaGals to support and empower women within the company and in the tech community. In 2020, we formed the CommUNITY Council to create an environment that becomes more diverse, inclusive, and aware of the unique experiences of underrepresented groups. These initiatives are joined by our Exabeam Cares program that aims to give back to the community through education and opportunities for underrepresented groups in the industry. Exabeam’s core focus on diversity in the workplace contributed to a record-breaking 2021, and there is no sign of that success slowing down anytime soon.
Beyond internal programs, businesses can make a lot of progress by being creative in diversifying the talent pool. They can establish scholarships for students from low-income households and other marginalized backgrounds and visit schools in underserved communities to meet students where they are. It’s especially important to reach out to students of all backgrounds when they’re young, as 80% of students will have made up their mind on their perceived ability in math and science by the eighth grade. Moreover, companies should expand recruitment efforts to include candidates with less conventional educations such as GEDs and community college.
I encourage company executives to pledge this year to give people of all races and gender identities the power to tell their own stories, tread their own paths and pursue their own ambitions in the tech industry and beyond. We’ve come too far to settle for anything less.”
Caroline Seymour, VP of product marketing, Zerto, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
“International Women’s Day represents a vitally important time to celebrate how far we have come together, but also to reflect on how much work still remains to be done. We must continue to reinvigorate and refresh women’s equality movements and persist in our support and encouragement of all the young girls and women out there.
Coming from the technology sector myself, I am acutely aware women remain significantly underrepresented. In fact, it was recently reported that in 2021 tech roles held by women increased by just 2%, with cybersecurity found to be one of the least gender-diverse sectors.
Awareness and sensitivity to the gender gap issue is stronger than ever, but there is still so much more to be done. For example, some initiatives that are realistic and can be easily implemented today include, creating gender-neutral job descriptions, ensuring women are part of the interviewing team, ensuring that interview rounds include diverse candidates, conducting regular pay equity reviews to attract and retain candidates, offering mentorship and advancement programs, and regularly evaluating hiring and promotion processes to eliminate bias.
Of course, the lack of diversity in tech is not a problem solely facilitated by the employment sector, for many, the issues begin far before entering the workforce. Young girls face notable obstacles from very early on in their schooling, whether that is unconscious bias, or being actively discouraged from STEM subjects. Therefore, by the time they are making career choices, many have not taken on higher STEM education and therefore do not have the necessary qualifications to enter the science and technology sectors as easily as their male counterparts.
To truly begin making significant changes to the industry we not only need to implement progressive strategies to hire and retain women in tech, but we need to start doing far more to mentor girls and encourage them to maintain STEM studies into higher education. After all, gender parity in the workplace is not a one-sided victory, diversity of thought is invaluable to any company and it simply cannot be achieved without bringing women to the table.”
MarKeith Allen, senior vice president and managing director, Diligent Mission Driven Organization
As an organization focused on empowering the decision makers and leaders of nonprofit, government, education and healthcare organizations to be the most effective they can be, the theme of #BreakTheBias for International Women’s Day is particularly timely. As a society, we have just experienced a groundbreaking period of social reckoning around all aspects of diversity, including gender, economic and education inequality, which all started well before the pandemic, but now have been exposed in a much more revealing light, as a result of a global crisis.
As a company, Diligent has been committed from the start to gender equity, diversity and inclusion, as well and we are proud to host several initiatives designed to support women’s career paths in marketing, engineering and product development.
This International Women’s Day, we salute all the amazing women on our team as well as the many women clients, customers and partners who join us in our mission to continue to #BreaktheBias for all who are oppressed, overlooked or treated unequally.
We are all being called upon to lead in a new, technologically and globally-inclusive world where issues of inequality are at the forefront – and gender, racial and economic disparities must all be eradicated. The question is, how can we all lead in our individual and collective roles to affect these changes? Technology tools may be the key, helping to level the playing field and empower everyone.
Diane Albano, CRO, Globalization Partners
“IWD is a day to celebrate women and all of their successes everywhere, but it’s also a call-to-action to help end gender bias, which unfortunately, still is prevalent in the tech industry. Although many great women in tech have made a significant impact, there are still too many areas where women are underrepresented.
We must encourage more women to enter into the tech industry by participating in STEM education as early as possible – with a focus on providing opportunities to girls in elementary or middle school. I’m proud to say there are far more female role models in science and technology today, and I look forward to a time when it will be the norm to see an equal number of men and women working in technology-related fields.
Women should also follow their passions. I’ve always loved math and science – and though I am not a technologist, I’ve been in hi-tech my entire career. It’s not solely about engineering and development, but also surrounding roles in sales, marketing, operations, etc.). And if your passion and drive are in engineering and development, then pursue it unabashedly.
Finally, be assertive, confident, and vocal. Perception plays a major role in women’s success. Being assertive and confident about your skill set and ideas will directly impact your colleagues’ and superiors’ professional perception of you. If a situation or ‘cultural norm’ seems wrong or unreasonable to you, then don’t be afraid to challenge it. Sometimes, the status quo needs challenging. I have an entire career of challenging the status quo and then working to improve the situation. Pursuit of progress towards a fair and equitable environment is always a worthy undertaking.”
Gianna Driver, chief human resources officer, Exabeam
“How a company treats its people impacts employee experience, as well as overall culture. The Great Resignation has shown us the number one predictor of attrition is culture – people stay at fun, healthy places where they have impact and career growth, while people leave negative workplaces. Culture creation begins during the interview process, extends throughout the employee lifecycle, and evolves as a company matures.
Ensuring you promote a healthy, positive, and diverse culture means actively investing in the growth and psychological safety of your employees. Embracing learning, normalizing mistake-making and actively listening to your teams will go a long way toward building a more diverse, inclusive organization.
For a long time, cybersecurity has been a male-dominated industry and women have faced challenges having their voices be heard. I am proud of the steps we at Exabeam have taken to promote equality, including increasing C-suite representation to 40% female. It’s important women of all ages see themselves represented in our leadership–from young students to thriving professionals, minorities and other under-represented groups.
This International Women’s Day, I encourage women around the world to embrace their passion and break the bias! Women before you have cracked the glass ceiling; help us break it. Dream big, remain focused, and uphold other women as you grow and achieve greatness in the world. You are a woman, and that’s powerful.”
Juniper Emnett, product manager at Wisetail
“For a long time, through many different fights for equality, the responsibility to strive for change is often put on the group that’s facing oppression. However, the biggest impact often comes when those with privilege set it aside and focus on making changes in their own minds and communities. #BreaktheBias is a call-to-action for those who hold biases or recognize them in organizations and take the responsibility to right the ship.
At Wisetail, one way we break the bias is ensuring that all team members are offered time off and support for things that have previously been characterized as ‘women specific.’ Things like doctors appointments, sporting events or school commitments have flexibility for all genders, and Wisetail empowers all employees to be the best parents, partners and valuable participants in their communities that they can be.
It takes work and intention to break habits, biases and thought patterns that view people who aren’t like you as less valuable, less worthy, or less qualified. It’s uncomfortable work that can initially leave you feeling ashamed of past behaviors and beliefs, but persist, because a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination is a bright light at the end of that tunnel.”
Svenja De Vos, CTO, Leaseweb Global
“In 2021, Deloitte Global predicted that large global technology firms, on average, will reach nearly 33% overall female representation in their workforces in 2022. While these statistics paint a rosy picture of the progress to minimize the gender gap, we still have some work to do. With this year’s theme for International Women’s Day being, “Break the Bias,” I think it is critical for women already in the technology field to express their enthusiasm for a career in the industry. After all, if we don’t, how can we expect more women to be encouraged to be involved?
It is of the utmost importance that we teach young girls that women are successful in the technological realm. Despite the fact that there has been an influx of women joining the tech workforce in recent years, being a female manager in the tech world is still considered ‘abnormal.’ I encourage women who are leaders in the industry to speak about their experiences to the younger generation to entice young people to get them excited about a technical education or career.”
Ryan White, director of client success, Wisetail
“To me, #BreaktheBias starts with allyship and accountability. As we celebrate this years’ International Women’s Day, it’s more important than ever to adopt practices and attitudes that help to eliminate gender bias. This means, we must hold ourselves accountable for treating all of our colleagues the same regardless of gender and create opportunities for individuals based upon merit. We also must ensure responsibilities and pay are offered equally to everyone who is qualified and diverse opinions are celebrated and encouraged.
Throughout my career, I’ve worked with and for many amazing female leaders, and the perspective they bring to the workforce is invaluable. Having diverse teams with differing backgrounds leads to true synergy and drives innovation. Without including those who bring different life experiences and levels of expertise, companies will be putting themselves at a disadvantage without realizing it.”
Ali Knapp, president at Wisetail
“As this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #BreaktheBias calls for a world where female voices are amplified, celebrated and valued. Our backgrounds, education, culture and experiences all create and influence biases, so we must continually challenge ourselves to recognize and question how we can make influential change. The strongest way to #BreaktheBias is to focus on decision-making and how we can organizationally build processes that mitigate bias in the workplace.
We have to bring critical awareness to existing biases in the workplace such as hiring, promotions and evaluations. This awareness can then drive process improvement to create criteria driven measures. Creating accountability among all employees is another key part of enacting change in the decision-making process. At Wisetail, we are a team that values diversity as we continually seek out viewpoints and experiences different from our own while centering empathy on our quest to uncover and solve problems.
At the end of the day, whether it’s work life or home life, it’s all life. We’re all humans and we bring our humanity, bias and backgrounds into our places of employment. Awareness and education only reach so far before actionable steps must be taken. No matter what level you are, holding yourself accountable and making sure your bias doesn’t affect your decision making is a critical step in preventing gender bias.”
Richa Gupta, CPO (chief people officer), Globalization Partners
“As a proud immigrant who was raised in a small city with limited resources and who came to this country from India with just $4,000, a suitcase and a big dream, International Women’s Day has a very personal meaning to me. Today, I’m Chief Human Resources Officer for a global employment platform that makes it easy to hire anyone, anywhere, no matter where they reside. I’ve witnessed how the acceptance of hiring talent remotely has been particularly and positively impactful for women. With newfound access to jobs, women do not have to leave the workforce in the significant numbers they did due to the pandemic sacrificing their professional and financial wellbeing. Families, and even communities, can stay intact.
International Women’s Day is also a great time to remember the importance of how all employees feel about their workplace – most notably, in relation to feelings of inclusion, fulfillment, happiness and trust in leadership. It is my core belief that from recruitment, to development, to establishing inclusive policies, all businesses must strive to prioritize inclusion across every aspect of the organization to further accelerate progression. It’s so important to be conscious of what a balanced and inclusive team looks like, to integrate people from all walks-of-life with empathy and to be cognizant of what it takes to achieve this.
We all know we have a long way to go towards equality for women worldwide, but I do believe that as the world of work continues to change and adapt to more remote work and autonomy, women (and all genders) will find that geography no longer dictates their destiny. I believe that if you include and offer chances to women in a variety of roles and fields globally, you automatically ensure global inclusivity and as a result, will #BreakTheBias on International Women’s Day and beyond.
At G-P, we believe that our culture of inclusion starts with the power of the purpose of our company; it is co-created by our Dream team for care, community and belonging; further nurtured by our leaders with empathy, empowerment, and trust; strengthen by listening and educating our teams; and supported by inclusive hiring and talent practices. We believe that if you chase inclusion, diversity follows. I’m proud that our gender ratio is 47% women to 53% men in our entirely remote, global team of over 900 employees (and growing!) worldwide. Together we must champion and celebrate the successes of women around the world who are achieving great things. Though we still have a long way to go in creating a more equal and just world, together is the only way we will get there. My advice for other women is to keep learning, keep networking, hone your skills and most importantly, trust yourself and your superpowers (yes, you have many!).”
Kathy Gormley, principle solutions engineer at Resistant AI:
“International Women’s Day is the time to celebrate women and their successes. While the number of women entering traditionally male-dominated industries such as finance and technology has increased, there’s still a lot of work to do to level the playing field. There’s something powerful about seeing women succeed in these roles because it can give other women a sense of visibility and a push of confidence. It validates and reinforces the idea that they, too, can go down this path and #BreaktheBias.
I recommend finding a talented and driven network. Having a solid network and mentors to look up to creates a sense of unity and helps give that extra nudge. I wouldn’t be where I am today without a strong support system of female leaders and peers who pushed me to reset boundaries and be fearless with my career. I hope that I am able to empower a whole new generation of women to #BreaktheBias and help others make a transformational shift to close the gender gap for future generations.”
Nicola Kinsella, VP of global marketing at Fluent Commerce
“This International Women’s Day theme #BreakTheBias, starts with awareness. While it’s easy to gravitate towards the familiar and consume information that only affirms our beliefs, it’s important to give weight to the data and facts. There are still issues with gender discrimination, pay gaps, and unequal distribution of household labor that ripple through society. Organizations should be ready to adopt a proactive approach so they can combat these issues head on. Beyond that, choosing to see the good in others, instead of assuming based on unconscious bias, will be the only way we can begin to break our own predisposition.”
Lauren Vigliante, VP, people at Forter
“International Women’s day brings attention to the conversation around diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. While the tech industry has made strides to include more women in upper management positions, there is still a long way to go. There is a massive gender talent gap; as of 2021 women only hold 26% of executive, senior-level and management positions in S&P 500 companies. Tech organizations must break down existing biases to level the playing field as much as possible. As leaders, it’s essential to question if we are functioning in the best way we can and question how we can create a more collaborative culture.
The biggest key to making a real, impactful change regarding DEIB is transparency.
To improve Forter’s DEIB initiatives, we hired a consultant for perspective on how we could make deliberate improvements. She interviewed some of our employees worldwide and followed up with an anonymous survey to address the existing gaps and strategize how we could make Forter a more inclusive place to work.
While we still have a long journey to progress, the percentage of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in sales at Forter has grown 6% in under six months. Approximately 25% of our leadership roles are occupied by women, but we are working to increase this number as we attract and develop new talent. We’ve launched an internal mobility program to encourage people to apply internally for new growth opportunities. We’ve incorporated half-day Fridays in the U.S. and two Sundays off a month in Israel to improve work-life balance, and we plan to create employee resource groups to continue improving our initiatives in the future. In addition, we are making strides to create accountability within our leadership teams by incorporating training on diversity and inclusion., We are working towards building a more inclusive and welcoming workplace for all of our staff of all backgrounds.
By choosing to question existing biases during International Women’s Day and taking actions to flip the script, we can further contribute to building a more inclusive landscape for women in the tech industry.”
“On this International Women’s Day, we celebrate women who are the backbone of the transportation industry. However, they hold only 15% of the country’s nearly 15 million-person transit workforce, and now is the time for change. Creating opportunities for women at all levels of the industry is essential, so they can prosper in their careers just as much as their male counterparts. One way to do this is for corporations to openly commit to diversity initiatives as they reinvent and restructure their organizations. To help amplify women’s voices, Cubic has signed the MobilityXX pledge, dedicated to increasing gender diversity in the transit industry.
Ensuring that transportation solutions are more inclusive and designed to serve the women who ride and serve across transit organizations is a key goal of Cubic’s partnership with McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. Together they have launched the Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence and Smart Mobility. The Centre of Excellence will be used to highlight the diversity, equity, and inclusion issues facing public transportation today and have experts come together to drive solutions.
It will be an exciting and productive year for diversity in transit and technology, and we are looking forward to making a difference together. “
Krishna Desai, senior global marketing manager at Cubic Transportation Systems
“With this year’s theme being #BreakTheBias, we must turn our attention to the public transportation industry, which has quietly been influenced by widespread bias for much of its existence. It’s a sector that in many ways is still stuck in a past when men took the bus or train to work while women stayed home to tend to their houses and families. Now, women are getting educations, pursuing careers and using public transportation as much in their daily lives as anyone else, yet they’re dealing with a system not designed for them.
Pricing, accessibility, and safety are some of the many barriers keeping women from being as mobile as their male counterparts. The only way to affect change in the industry is to put women in the driving seat and give them the power to make a direct impact. Giving women a seat at the table will help transit agencies better meet the needs of female travelers and ensure they can get to where they need to go safely and efficiently.
The future is bright for female leaders in mobility. In Mexico, Miriam Gonzalez launched GeoChicas to enable women to add critical services often overlooked by men–childcare, reproductive health clinics, and domestic violence shelters–to the open source maps that feed into Google and Apple. In the UK, Stagecoach made Carla Stockton-Jones the first woman to lead a private sector public transit organization in the country by appointing her as managing director. As more women take up prominent roles in the industry, it will be exciting to finally see public transportation that does more for women, by women.”
Celeste Rance, director of engineering at Mailgun by Sinch
“As tech has a higher barrier to entry for women than many other industries, it is important for women that have an interest in tech to understand that they are responsible for growing themselves and to take advantage of the information available to them. However, at the same time, you must know that mentors and building good relationships will be crucial to success. First, you need to make a plan for how to grow yourself and make yourself more valuable to the organization. Think about where you want to focus for the next few years in your career. Then find the training, conferences, meetups, or certifications that you need to meet those goals and ask if your company has a training budget to support your growth. You will never know if you do not ask.
Secondly, surround yourself with people that will help you grow and develop new skills. After you make it through the first few years in this field, chances are that you will have made several professional relationships that have helped you grow. In return, it’s fair that you help the women next in line grow, too. On International Women’s Day, I advise any women looking to break biases to spend time building and nurturing meaningful relationships with those near them in their industries. Whether you are a beginner or a novice, you can seek out and find a network to help grow yourself and, eventually, grow the community of women in tech. Don’t compete with other women as this is an outdated mentality that is counterproductive in the workplaces. Ask for help. Learn as much as you can. Know that when it is your turn, you will look out for opportunities to mentor and sponsor others.”
Sandy Mahla, regional sales manager, Datadobi
“To adhere to this year’s theme for International Women’s Day of #BreaktheBias, it is important to focus on the younger generation. We learn more by what we see than by what we hear. We cannot wait until young women enter the workforce to stimulate their interest in technology and science, educators and mentors in STEM must capture their attention as children. Having an encouraging mentor and strong female role models including my own working mom gave me the confidence to know other people had achieved this and I too could be successful. I encourage women in tech to make themselves available to their younger peers. Strong female leaders from school age and beyond help lead us to a more balanced, less biased workplace where opportunities are achievable by hard work and grit.”
Samina Subedar, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, StorCentric
“International Women’s Day is a day dedicated to celebrating all women across all diversities around the world. It is a day among many on which I reflect on and appreciate just how far women have come in the technology field. At the same time, I recognize that there remains work to be done to ensure future generations have the support and resources necessary to explore, pursue and grow in these fields.
I strive to emulate those that provided opportunities for me to pursue, and now thrive in my career. And I am fortunate to now work in an organization that appreciates the immense value of a diverse workforce.
So this year on International Women’s Day, I encourage everyone to give purposeful thought to how they can actively support a girl’s or woman’s goal of entering a career in technology or their chosen field – whether it is donating your time or from your wallet. And business leaders, I likewise implore you to review your organization’s HR practices – from hiring to programs designed to train and retain the most richly diverse workforce possible. After all, diversity in the workplace isn’t just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing. Bringing diverse people and thereby diverse perspectives into the workplace leads to a greatly enhanced ability to generate ideas and problem solve, which lead to solutions, innovation and business transformation.”
Lindsay Mantzel, Senior Full Stack Developer, Retrospect, a StorCentric Company
“While we cannot ignore the tremendous progress that has been made, we live in a world where perceptions of what it means to be a woman or a man are still very much defined by stereotypes. I have been fortunate to have forward thinking parents, educators and employers that have encouraged me to reach for and achieve my goals of working in STEM. However, others around the world remain not as fortunate.
This year, as we consider how we would like to recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day, I encourage everyone to lean into the conversation around gender stereotypes. And then, I hope people take action – there are so many ways to do so – from acting as a mentor, to speaking at a career fair at schools, to simply donating to an organization dedicated to the cause. In other words, let’s help close the opportunity gap, with a goal of ensuring girls and women have all the support and resources necessary to reach their full potential.”
Jennifer Palecki, chief people officer at Imply
“The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day—#BreaktheBias—means we need to break through and acknowledge that there is a known bias and disparity across gender in the tech world and in business in general. How tech organizations can combat both conscious and unconscious bias is by being aware, vigilant and doing the necessary work to bring about change.
Many organizations think that their policies and practices are fair, but year over year, we continue to be proven wrong. Instead of operating with the assumption of best intentions being enough, I want us to flip the script. Start by recognizing that bias exists within your company and that it is our responsibility as employers to take action. Be relentless in pursuing data and have a plan in place that continually inspects and monitors progress. When we have a course of action, it enables us to level the playing field.
Over the past year at Imply, we have made steps to #BreaktheBias in hiring our People Team. We are making the effort to tackle gender disparities in our workplace and will continue to focus on implementing the right tools and foundation to bring about optimal change.
Gender parity doesn’t just benefit technology companies; it benefits all companies. As progressive and forward facing as the tech industry is, we must continue to be relentless in upholding the practices that will lead the way to creating gender parity.”
Chris Andres, VP, Americas central and southeast sales, Imply
“When I think about this year’s International Women’s Day theme of #Breakthebias, I don’t view bias as something that can be easily broken. It’s a journey and a process that takes time to change. I’ve worked in high tech since 1994, and I can see how far we’ve come on that journey and how much progress we’ve made. Things that were once tolerated in the workplace are now seen as unacceptable and, while we still have work to do, we are on the right track.
When it comes to hiring, I like to scroll past a candidate’s name and any identifiers on a resume to solely focus on the person’s experience and avoid creating any subconscious biases. Organizations need to focus on what that person can uniquely contribute to the team, and that’s exactly what Imply has done. Imply understands that women may bring a unique approach and thought process and those views, combined with the other team members, rounds out the workplace.
We also have a Women of Imply group where we discuss different topics and support each other. It’s a place where the younger women of the company can ask for advice and seek mentorship on a variety of topics. By setting this standard of women having women’s backs, we’re teaching the younger generation that women can accomplish anything by working together.”
Lucy Zhang, senior digital designer at Plutora
“International Women’s Day is a reflection upon the roles and opportunities afforded to women, both past and present. It provides a chance to celebrate and recognize what women have accomplished across all ages and cultures and is a great reminder to continue to support each other!
The biggest barriers in technology for women are what we believe they can accomplish and attitudes surrounding that on an educational level. Most people can agree that the idea that women are better suited for certain types of work is outdated, but this notion still permeates society and is difficult to tackle head-on. It’s important to support STEM activities designed to get girls interested in tech at an early age. Female mentorship, role models and leaders are also crucial for giving women that voice and sense of belonging in the space.
The activist Marian Wright Edelman said, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ Women are self-selecting out of tech due to a lack of role models in the space. We need access and exposure to tech programmes at an early age, fostering a community where girls can feel comfortable and empowered to pursue a future in tech.
When I started my career, I didn’t fully understand the importance of networking and had a heads-down approach towards working—it was all about producing deliverables. Of course that’s a big part of it, but it’s equally important to have a support network and to be open to having those conversations that may not immediately lead to tangible results but impact the higher level decisions and culture of the workplace. Having mentors, seeking advice and delegating when needed instead of trying to solve all of the problems individually has had a great impact on my work in the field.”
Rachel Pedreschi, VP of community and developer relations at Imply
“I have been in the technology field for over 20 years and have run the gambit of positions from on-the-ground engineering roles to organizational leadership positions. As such, I have been privy to and experienced first-hand the oftentimes unconscious biases against women in this field. For example, I’ve been the technical spokesperson lead for my organization countless times. Yet, it is not an uncommon occurrence that during the Q&A session following my presentation, the audience has directed their questions to my male counterpart. Even when that male has looked to me for guidance, and I would take the lead in providing the technical response, the next questions would, again, be directed back to my male colleague.
To survive and thrive as a female in previously stereotypical male roles, women must be prepared to actively break biases. We must teach girls and women to assert themselves, which historically has not typically been a trait to which we are attributed (not positively, anyway). At the same time, we need to teach everyone to stop making assumptions based on the gender of the person they see in front of them. Technical people come in all shapes and sizes but there has been a tendency to assume that males are the more technical ones.
We have indeed come a long way. Yet, biases do persist. As women, the more we speak up, actively pursue and contribute to typically male-dominated fields, the more we can help to shatter these preconceived notions.”
Catherine Qu, VP of growth marketing, Imply:
“I fully support and agree with this year’s International Women’s Day theme of #BreaktheBias. While it’s human nature to have biases, it’s something I strive to be cognizant of and sensitive to—especially as a minority woman. You will find biases wherever you go, so it’s important to learn how to spot them and overcome them.
One way women can accomplish this is by speaking up. For so long, women have relied on the quality of their work to speak for them, but that’s an outdated way of thinking. In today’s world, women need to be forthright, direct and confident talking about their accomplishments and acting as a self advocate. In addition, women should seek champions who believe in them and will speak highly of them to others. Also importantly, women should keep an eye out for each other. If you see a woman trying to speak up in a meeting but being ignored, say something about it and make sure that woman is provided the opportunity to share her thoughts.
In the technology industry, I do see improvements being made, and there are certainly actions women can take to create our own change. Be a mentor to the younger women in your organization, and seek out mentors who can be your champions. Get involved or support organizations that are focused on empowering and educating women such as Girls Who Code or Women in Tech. By working together, women can create the future we want to see now.”
Rebecca Murtagh, CMO, Modo Labs
“While we celebrate the many milestones and gains women continue to make as we observe International Women’s Day, we have to recognize that while 2020 saw the number of women in business rise, the pandemic shift to remote work drove a setback, with women’s jobs almost twice as vulnerable as men’s. As a veteran of the tech industry and mother of three, I have certainly felt that pressure.
There’s also reason to be hopeful, as innovations open the door to re-thinking the workplace. Apps are available today that enable true collaboration and connection with colleagues, managers and mentors, enabling equity without requiring proximity. The hard part is going to be in shifting our thinking and policies to actualize the opportunities these technologies present. I’m proud to be part of a company and industry that enables that shift, and encouraged by the energy and openness of many companies across industries to embrace technology as a catalyst for new ways of working that can help #BreakTheBias.”
Megan Campbell, marketing manager, xSuite North America
“This International Women’s Day, we should take time to reflect and thank the women who have done the “heavy lifting,” so that moving forward, we’re able to normalize women having careers they should have been able to all along. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry means empowering those who might be hesitant to enter it in the first place. Like the old saying goes, ‘if not you, then who?’
Most women have faced gender bias in some capacity throughout their careers. To #BreaktheBias, I encourage people to speak up when faced with this kind of adversity. The only way to combat bias—whether conscious or unconscious—is to educate others and address unacceptable behaviors, whether you are the one experiencing it, or witnessing it happen to someone else.
Beyond individual contributions to #BreaktheBias, organizations must be aware of their company image, too. There should be equal gender and racial representation in marketing efforts, company spokespeople, and leadership positions. As we move closer to gender equality, we must understand the necessity for all of us to play an active part in moving the needle forward.”