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Tech sector tackles gender diversity in lead up to International Women's Day
Tue, 5th Mar 2024

As International Women's Day draws close, conversations about gender diversity in the tech sector gain more momentum; specifically, those addressing the challenges faced by the sector due to a lack of female representation. Insights from female leaders in the tech industry, such as Tanium, a global autonomous endpoint management platform, and Sekuro, an Australian cyber security consultancy, bring invaluable perspectives on how better diversity can help overcome these challenges and break down barriers to achieving gender equality.

Stephanie Aceves, Senior Director of Product Management at Tanium, advocates diversity combined with inclusion. Aceves highlights the mistake often made in focusing solely on diverse recruitment while overlooking the importance of creating an inclusive environment. "Often, women end up somewhat disillusioned in the IT space when they realise the space was really never made for them," she explains. According to Aceves, companies should take greater care to ensure women on the teams feel seen and considered throughout their careers, as this plays a crucial role in female retention.

Melissa Bischoping, Director, Endpoint Security Research at Tanium, echoes Aceves' sentiment, infusing her views on the significance of diverse backgrounds beyond surface-level characteristics, which she believes leads to high-performing teams. "The most high-performing teams I've worked with have been made up of those who may have started a tech career after 5-10 (or more) years in another field such as retail, hospitality, finance, or healthcare," says Bischoping. Teams with a diverse range of academic backgrounds are fertile grounds for innovation and are essential to closing the 'skills gap', adds Bischoping.

Incorporating the perspective of the Australian tech sector, Alicia Valderrama, Chief of Staff at Sekuro, speaks highly of the benefits reaped from a diverse workforce. "Firstly, it effectively bridges skills gaps by tapping into a broader talent pool... Secondly, diverse teams bring innovative ideas and fresh perspectives to the table, resulting in more effective problem-solving and creative solutions." Valderrama also touches on the positive outcomes of female visibility in the sector, stating that as more women succeed in tech, it inspires others, gradually modifying the industry narrative and making tech a desirable career path for women.

When it comes to challenging efforts to boost female representation, Aceves expresses that it's more than simply about representation. The additional burdens placed disproportionately on women, such as expectation to increase the number of females on their team or take on extracurricular activities can often lead to burnout. Bischoping adds to this narrative explaining that systemic issues within the 'tech bro culture' which foster sexism and harassment also contribute to women leaving the industry or declining offers.

As the tech industry addresses these issues, we can expect that diversity will bring merit, innovation, and fresh perspectives to the sector, going a long way in dealing with longstanding challenges. Promoting gender inclusivity as not just a numerical target but the way forward will certainly benefit everyone involved, as aptly put by Valderrama.