IWD2021, womxnintech, Technology...
How can we proactively make a change to achieve equality and inclusion in tech? It's International Women's Day in March and Orbis are dedicating the entire month to celebrating the womxn of Tech and Design. If we want more womxn in tech, we have to do more than want. Our team felt we needed to share stories from the industry, told by voices with first-hand experience. All of the exposure International Women's Day kicks up is critical, not just for our own education as a business, but also to support the exposure of gender equality and inclusion in tech. These stories are not told by a company or PR, or any other bias perspective. These are the real womxn of tech shaking up the industry.
Nina, what has your personal career journey into the tech industry been like?
As a young woman I wanted to study something perceived as “difficult”, to impress people around me - silly behaviour, but who is not a bit silly at 18? That is why I chose microengineering. During my studies I then discovered that engineering and biology can be combined, and I found that very fascinating. After my PhD I was lucky enough to get in contact with a company that had just been founded and aimed to develop a product combining these two disciplines. I joined it and I helped building it.
What do you think leaders could do to help support gender equality within their teams?
As leader we should aim to eliminate pervasive biases. Women confront biases that men do not. One common example is the likeability bias: successful men are often liked more while successful women are often liked less (see for example: https://www.leadershippsychologyinstitute.com/women-the-leadership-labyrinth-howard-vs-heidi/).
Concrete steps to reduce these biases and their impact is to design objective performance reviews and introduce unconscious bias training.
Furthermore, we should find ways to amplify women voice, by making sure women gets the recognition they deserve for their ideas and by providing public speaking opportunities for female employees, both internally and externally.
Widening that point, how can businesses adapt to ensure they are enhancing women with their careers?
First, by implementing flexible working practices and by supporting shared parental leave. Second, by paying them the same as men and by ensuring that promotions are given in an objective way. Third, by introducing mentoring programmes: giving advice and offering a sympathetic ear, matched with a professional attitude, can be a powerful force in creating future business leaders.
What are your top 3 tips for women looking to break into tech and design, or progress from their current position into a more senior role?
Dare. Dare to speak your truth. Dare to found your own company. Dare to dream big. Dare to break conventions. Dare to challenge stereotypes. Dare to behave differently. Dare to do what you want and not what others tell you, you should want.
In tribute to IWD’s 2021 campaign, what do you choose to challenge?
I challenge the perception of what “normal” is. A pregnant CEO is normal. A woman repairing a car is normal. A woman VC is normal. A woman president is normal.