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6 women in tech reflect on the importance of Women's Equality Day

Many women across the country are celebrating today, August 26, as Women’s Equality Day, including a number of women professionals in the data management and software fields.

Women’s Equality Day commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting the right to vote to women. However, inequalities in the technology industry still exist, including the number of women who hold tech-related jobs and pay gaps between men and women.

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Following, six women professionals in technology share their experiences working in IT, and what this day means to them.

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Joanna Hu
Manager, data science
Exabeam

“Only 15 percent of data scientists are women. On Women’s Equality Day, it’s imperative to remember women in the data scientist field and technology industry bring a unique voice to the table. Tech companies around the world need diversity in their leadership to succeed.

“Women’s backgrounds bring new perspectives that can drive the ultimate success and culture of the business. In addition, women are also great at handling interpersonal relationships and often attribute to overall harmony and quality of work environments.

“Women in the industry need to remember having curiosity, not technological background is the top reason one will succeed in the technology industry. No matter what obstacles might stand in the way, they should never let anyone limit their potential. Women are in charge of their own personal destiny.

“On this holiday in particular, it’s important to emphasize that when choosing an employer, women should work for the people they admire and respect, not the company that offers the highest pay. Everyone, no matter their gender, should know their worth and not be afraid of advancing. Finally, it’s better to keep the gender gap idea out of your mind, because if you find the right company, your work and skills will speak for themselves.”

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Rachael Andrews
Technical course director
WhiteHat Security

“As a discipline, technology can often be stereotyped as more ‘for boys.’ That stereotype has permeated the industry for decades and persists in 2019, where roles are still very male dominated. IT is slowly evolving to accept more women over time, including into C-suite roles of organizations.

“Overcoming the gender bias is not easy. But the first step is for women to become comfortable expressing conviction in their abilities and greater confidence in the expertise and ideas they can contribute. Tech is changing every day and it can spark a career interest early.

“Whenever I speak with young women, I love hearing them say, ‘I want to be a scientist!’ Pursuing a technology career has been enriching, especially in the cybersecurity industry, and I would encourage more girls and women to consider this growing field.”

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Shilpa Narsikar
Senior engineering manager
WhiteHat Security

"As a woman in engineering, who has risen up to a senior management position, I have encountered my fair share of difficult interpersonal situations while on the job. And there is one invaluable skill that has helped me to handle each instance with grace, build professional connections and advance my career: empathy. But it is often overlooked in fast-paced businesses where individuals just want to get ahead at any cost.

“A recent study found that 87 percent of CEOs see a direct link between workplace empathy and business performance, productivity, retention and general business health. In short, promoting empathy-either as an individual or as a company-actually aids in career and business success.

“In my role, when I get on customer calls, empathy is a constantly useful tool. It helps to bridge the gap between the engineering/implementation side and solve real world use cases, on how our customers are using the product. The more I fully listen and understand, the easier it is for me to propose a better solution to the customers. And it helps me encourage harmony within my diverse internal teams as well.

“This Women’s Equality Day, let this serve as a reminder that empathy is an ability that all professionals regardless of gender, background or industry, should prioritize and work on to achieve success."

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Lauren McCaslin
Vulnerability verification team lead
WhiteHat Security

“As a female in the cybersecurity space, I am aware that unconscious bias is always present. This refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions without us even realizing it. Diversity on the other hand brings various unique perspectives that can foster more creativity and collaboration, especially when all parties feel a sense of equality in each of their interactions.

“Personally, my team is responsible for finding dangerous vulnerabilities in companies' application code and offering advice on how to remediate it - which could be critical in preventing a major data breach. It's very high stakes, and we'd be cheating ourselves and our customers by not being inclusive and fostering a culture that allows us to all come together to collaborate equally.

“Companies can encourage this by identifying and updating company policies that may unintentionally perpetuate biases that favor one side or the other, explicitly defining and sharing criteria for advancement, and most importantly: expecting and reinforcing equality across all aspects of the workplace.”

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April Taylor
Vice president
ConnectWise Manage

“Schools are leading the way in representation for women in technology from a young age and organizations should be cognizant of the talent that makes up the current workforce. Every industry is tied to technology, so it’s great that the right education is available, especially to younger women because now they’re getting more exposure to potential careers within the tech sector.

“While there hasn’t been a significant increase, we have seen more women entering our company through our internship program because of that exposure and it’s our responsibility to welcome them to the tech space without making them feel different.

“From my personal experience working my way up through several different roles within the company, I’ve never felt there was any lack of equality whatsoever and I want to extend that feeling to the other women around me. We’re all colleagues, we’re all a team working together and we should continue to project that mentality to young girls and women throughout their careers.”

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Svenja de Vos
Chief technology officer
Leaseweb

“In order for the tech industry to continue growing at the rate it is, it’s vital to have women involved. It’s simple – if there is only men employed there won’t be enough diversity of skills and quality resources to keep pace. A team composed of people with different backgrounds and a balance of genders is more representative of the clients and customers for who you are providing products and services.

“My advice for women in the industry is to develop a career in tech is to listen, learn and be the best version of yourself. Don’t feel obligated to work in a stereotypical role that may not be the best one for you. Tech touches every single industry from fashion to finance to healthcare so it’s time to change perception while narrowing the skills gap.”

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