Women in tech: Challenging bias in the workplace

Mar 31, 2021
  • 4 min read

On Thursday 18th March 2021, we hosted a panel on challenging bias in the workplace with our very own Maya Sargent, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Maya was joined by our guest panellists Ashley Ferry, Head of Product at AllBright; Erin Gray, Scrum Master at Tecknuovo; Kelly Richards, Senior Product and Delivery Manager at Soho House; and Sonia Krishnan, Bid Manager at Tecknuovo.

It was a fantastic event where the panel discussed everything from their own careers, challenging bias in the tech industry, imposter syndrome, juggling childcare whilst working, to how companies can adapt, address and ally themselves to the key challenges women face in the workplace. For anyone that missed the event, we’ve put together the highlights below.

How the tech industry has changed

Tech used to be a boys’ club, but the industry is making progress, albeit slowly. Today there are many different resources available including Women of Silicon Valley, Ada’s List, policies like the mandatory pay gap reporting, various funding’s for female-led-start-ups and of course, awareness-raising talks such as this one.

“I can definitely see a shift. But for it to continue it needs to come from the top down, especially when it comes to supporting, training and making people aware of these types of roles.” Ashley Ferry, Head of Product, AllBright

Challenges and how to overcome them

Our panel shared insight on challenges they have faced as women working in tech, and how they overcame them:

  • Returning from maternity leave
    • A daunting time for many mothers and made harder if companies or managers aren’t supportive. You need to believe in your ability and be prepared to stand your ground, you shouldn’t have to re-prove yourself just because you’ve had a child.
  • Building credibility
    • Females often have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to be heard. To overcome microaggressions, have a clear and frank conversation with your leadership team or line manager. Align yourself with people in the business who can impact your career and show them you are there to be taken seriously.
  • Imposter syndrome
    • Being the only woman in the room can leave you feeling out of place, questioning if you deserve to be there. Stop. Believe in yourself! You’re there for a reason and being you is enough.

“When you’re on the ground in the teams, they don’t look that different to what they did years ago but the vision is there, we just need to focus now on the strategies for getting to that point and seeing that real shift” Kelly Richards, Senior Product and Delivery Manager, Soho House

How companies can be allies and retain women in the workplace

Below are just some ways companies can make workspaces more equitable and retain top female talent in tech. After all, diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time:

  • Culture
  • Representation in leadership roles
  • Equal pay
  • Transparency about the policies available including flexible working, maternity and shared parental leave
  • Male leaders being allies
  • Giving women a voice and listening
  • Mentorship and upskilling programmes

“Companies need to make sure women have a voice even if they're the minority. They should be involved and engaged in the business. -” Sonia Krishnan, Bid Manager,Tecknuovo

Thinking of joining the tech industry?

Our panel put together their best advice for women thinking of entering the tech industry:

  • Try different routes to get to where you want to be: You don’t need to go down the classic route, look at your transferable skill set.
  • Be yourself
  • Let your work speak for itself
  • Brace yourself for failure, it’s all a learning experience
  • Network
  • Find the right fit for you. Look for a company that matches your values, will give you the career progression you need, and will motivate you in the way in which you need.

“You don’t need to be the loudest or the most dominant in the room to prove your worth” - Erin Gray, Scrum Master, Tecknuovo

We want to say a huge thank you to the ladies who joined us and opened up about their experiences. It isn’t easy being a female in a male-dominated industry and we must continue the discussion and keep rooting for the right change.

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