I was privileged to attend the European Women in Technology Conference held in Amsterdam last week, and to present a talk on “Taking control of your career”. It was hugely inspiring to join several hundred women from all across Europe, from a wide range of roles, companies and sectors; coming together to find ways to improve gender diversity and inclusion in our industry.
Presentations and discussions focused on the Future of Tech, Careers and Personal Development, Tech Talks, Soft Skills and Founders & Entrepreneurs, amongst others.
In today’s fast moving world, there is not a single industry that has not been impacted by technology, and this was evident in the wide range of sectors represented over the two days.
However, the technology sector has always been dominated by men and under-represented by women. So I offered guidance on how women can take control of their careers in the tech sector. I encouraged women to start building confidence daily, to trust in their abilities and to be ambitious. Most importantly I reinforced that change starts with what we do - and even the smallest things can make a difference. The impact does not always have to be a seismic shift. Just being able to encourage and support an individual is valuable.
We went on to discuss how to establish initiatives in companies and communities to support the development of women. I shared how the women of WPP, Wunderman and Cognifide have participated in Pass It On, an initiative designed to empower women to claim leadership positions, be catalysts for change and lead others by setting a positive example.
I connected with some wonderfully intelligent and gifted women, each with a personal story, some of great success and others of struggles they are overcoming. Honesty and authenticity was the order of the day.
However, despite the positivity of the event, there is unfortunately still an under-represention of women at all levels within the tech world, across all industries. The consensus was that the average number of women in most tech companies is around 20%, less in senior roles. That represents a huge amount of unrealised potential. Imagine if companies suddenly had access to twice as many skilled candidates – as we improve gender equality, this will become a reality.
Cognifide are already making good progress. As well as helping women in our own network through Pass It On, we’re working with local schools in our communities to encourage more women into technology from the bottom up. I’m very proud to be playing a small role in helping to make this happen.
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