Being a Woman in Tech - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
April 04, 2019
Sally Bogg | Head of Service Management IT Services | Leeds Beckett University
Scarlett Bayes | Industry Analyst, Service Desk Institute | Ivanti
Hannah Curtis | Director, Release and Program | Ivanti
Join our roundtable of experts as they discuss the challenges and opportunities of being a woman in IT and tech. They’ll share real-world experiences, difficulties, proud moments, learnings, and solutions. We’ll also talk about:
- Tips to ditch self-doubt
- Small steps you can take to help empower other women
- Statistics of what the industry currently looks like
- Why men need to be involved in the conversation too
Be sure to register for this sales-pitch free webinar for a better understanding of the current diversity landscape in technology and IT, recent wins for women, and thoughtful advice from women looking to change the world for the better.
Erica: Hi, everyone. Welcome to our webinar today. I'm really excited for this one. So I wanted to start by introducing myself and giving you a little bit of background on the webinar, and then I'll get to introducing our amazing panel.
So my name is Erica Azad, and I'm in the marketing...I'm the marketing department manager at Ivanti. And I'm quite heavily involved in Ivanti's Women in Technology campaign. I know many people who are on this scene, this campaign or are connected to us in some way. Basically, this campaign started a little over a year ago. And it started with a Twitter handle, which is @TheTechieGirls. And since, we've started account groups on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. And those accounts are really about building a community to celebrate each other's successes and staying in the loop when it comes to women in technology research and news, and then also doing some really powerful interactive social media campaigns. So I definitely recommend, if you don't already follow us there, kind of joining the conversation there.
We also have a website on the Ivanti site where we link to the surveys we run, videos, and blogs. And I just wanted to do a quick plug on our blog, and not just because I'm someone who writes on it frequently, but because it's a really cool place. And we post on it about once a week and have a variety of authors contributing from around the world. We basically do a variety of spotlights on women who are doing really cool things in their fields. We cover tough issues like impostor syndrome and the wage gap, which are some things we're gonna bring up today. And then we also give advice on being a woman in technology, and a lot more. So, definitely recommend stopping by the blog. It's a fantastic resource.
One more item of housekeeping and then we'll get on. So this is actually part of a series. It's a new series that we're running here at Ivanti. And this is gonna be the only pitch that I do in this webinar. But basically, this series is all about IT career development. So all of these webinars, we're not pushing product, we're not pushing Ivanti, anything like that. What we're doing is just trying to provide some value for you and your career. So, the next one is talking about how to get a better job in IT. And that one is gonna be really cool. We have some IT recruiters who are going to be on our panel for that, and a CIO who can kind of talk about what he's looking for to move someone up within IT in the company. And then we're also going to do a webinar about IT and your mental health, and how with this growing expectation of IT being a 24/7 function, what that means for you and your work-life balance and mental health, and kind of ideas on how to manage that.
So, well, I think the series is gonna be really cool and hopefully valuable for you. So in the follow-up email from this, I'll include a couple links to those. Yeah, so hopefully you like the series and you enjoy it. And again, thanks for joining.
So let's get started. And before I introduce our panel, I'd love to get more of an idea of who is out there in our audience today. And I'm already getting some great messages in chat. We have quite a few people in the UK and in Ireland. And I'm seeing Melissa, who's having what I'm sure is a gorgeous sunny day in Atlanta while I'm sitting out in the rain in London. So I'm a little jealous, to be honest. But if you open the chat function in Webex, send us a message if you don't mind, and let us know where you're dialing in from. I'd love to get kind of a better idea who we're talking to. And then also, familiarize yourself with the chat function if you have any thoughts or questions during the webinar. Any ideas you have. We'd love to hear what everyone is saying. So I'm already seeing people jump in, which is great.
We have someone from France who is saying it's 5 p.m. and wine time. So I love that. A little webinar and wine night, which, that sounds great. Yeah. So we have people from all over the U.S., Chicago, Texas, Seattle. So it sounds like we've got quite a big group of people, which is awesome. It's great to see so many people, both men and women. Very exciting. So yeah, just send us some messages in the chat as we go through. And if you have any questions or ideas, I'd love to hear it.
So now let's get on to introducing our wonderful panel. First off, we have Sally Bogg, who's the head of service management at Leeds Beckett University. So first off, since we have so many people from the U.S., Sally, could you kind of tell everyone a little bit about Leeds Beckett University to get started?
Sally: I can, indeed. So at Leeds Beckett University, I work in the IT services department. We are a sort of medium to large university, and we have about 27,000 students on campus and about 5,000 members of staff. We're an ambitious university. We're in the heart of a really vibrant city. We've got multiple campuses. We've got one of our very historical and very beautiful Beckett Park campus. And then we've got one...we've got a campus right in the heart of the city center.
It's a fantastic city to work in. Leeds is fast becoming the tech capital in the North of England. So we've got a lot of tech organizations moving in and moving their headquarters. So we've got Sky and Sky Bet, a company called Ten10, who are a software testing company. We've got the supermarket Asda, they've got their headquarters and their IT function is based in Leeds. And it's just recently been announced that Channel 4, one of our main sort of broadcasters is moving its headquarters to Leeds as well. So it's a brilliant city to be part of. And actually, it's got a really vibrant women in technology community with all kinds of amazing initiatives, meet-ups and all kinds of fantastic things. So it's a great place to work.
Erica: Perfect. So Sally, can you also just give us an idea of what you do, what your day-to-day is and, yeah, just what your career is at Leeds Beckett.
Sally: Yeah. So, my role is head of service management. And that means I'm responsible for leading and developing the service management function across IT services, and potentially beyond as well. And I'm also responsible for kind of second-line or first-line support, including the service desk, and I look after IT communications and our business partnering function as well.
Really, my job is all about making sure the services we deliver kind of meet defined targets and quality standards and that we're really continuing to improve and demonstrate values to the university. So I look after four teams. I've got approximately 45 staff. That accounts for about 40% of my working week. And then I spend the rest of my time looking at improving service quality. This might mean working with different teams or different customers to find better ways of doing things or refining our communications, maybe planning improvements to systems. Just different things.
My role is really people-oriented. So I'm not necessarily involved in the technology. Service management is really about people, and that's the bit I love. But it is quite front line, so it can be reactive sometimes. For example, having to maybe manage and deal with technical failures that impact lots of customers. So that can be quite challenging, but it means it's never dull. You're never quite sure what the weekend work will hold. So, that's kind of my job in a nutshell.
Erica: Okay, fantastic. And I think one thing to know about Sally as well, I've met her, she's really well known in the UK IT community. Really passionate about just the industry and women in IT initiatives, which is really... Of course, you've won... You recently won an award for that, is that correct?
Sally: I did, yes. So the FDM everywoman in Tech Awards. So they are about kind of celebrating women in technology. So I won the Team Leader Award, which was absolutely brilliant. I had a fantastic evening in London. Really nice kind of just to see how much brilliant work is being done within the sector to get more women into technology. And one of the things I really like about these awards is that they have a kind of One to Watch, which is an under 18 award. So I got to meet some quite young girls. I think the youngest girl was 11, and they're already kind of having an impact on...a positive impact on the industry. So, just fantastic to be part of such a brilliant community.
Erica: I love that. Awesome. Well, thank you for introducing yourself. So now we're gonna move on to Scarlett, who is an industry analyst at the Service Desk Institute. So Scarlett, could you kind of go into what SDI is and what you do, what you're passionate about, and just give us some background on yourself, please?
Scarlett: Yeah. So SDI, our sort of main mission is to inspire service desks to be brilliant. So we represent a community of around 30,000 service desks around the world. And that includes about 800 member organizations and 3,500 service desk professional members. And we've held events and conferences in the UK for over 30 years. And last year we actually held conferences in Mexico and Dubai, and we're looking to expand the number of international conferences we do this year as well. We have our Global Best Practice Standards, which we offer certification for. And we offer various training courses and recruitment services.
And where I fit into that is I produce a lot of the content that you see coming out of SDI. So whether that's from our white papers, which are exclusive to members, so our members get a free white paper every month. And we do survey-based reports, which is surveying our community about specific topics, whether it's around, say, enterprise service management or DevOps or something a bit more from the frontline, and analyzing the data and seeing what that means for the industry and the impact that certain topics are having. And I write blogs and all that sort of fun stuff. And I also do webinars, whether it's for SDI or other organizations. And I speak at conferences and events as well. So I get around a bit.
Erica: Awesome. Fantastic. Super excited to have you on. Okay. So last but not least, we have Hannah Curtis, who is one of my colleagues here at Ivanti, and is the director for release and program. So Hannah, I kind of wanted to ask you what that means for those who don't know. What do you do for Ivanti and what's your day-to-day look like [inaudible 00:11:48]? Let's have you introduce yourself if you don't mind.
Hannah: No, absolutely. So I work for Ivanti. And if you haven't heard from Ivanti, then basically, we provide software that works to unify IT for organizations. I came to Ivanti via the AppSense acquisition, and I've been with Ivanti in total for 13 years. I work within the product management team. And my day, it involves a fair amount of context switching, depending on the projects that I'm working on. I could be doing anything from looking at product pricing models, journey mapping, customer engagement to release management. Everything I do involves working closely with folks in all the departments across the business, from engineering to sales, marketing, product marketing, as well as our customers and our partners. I'm currently working on a Ivanti cloud initiative, for example. So that pretty much sums up what I do on an everyday basis.
Erica: Great. Well, thank you for joining. So that is our panel. And we're going to jump into some questions. And I am still seeing people jump in chat. It's great to hear, although I am jealous because we have so many people who are bragging about their sunny days. You have Florida, North Carolina. Even Pennsylvania is warmer than what it is here in the UK. So thanks for sharing. Thanks for joining. We want this to be a really...we want this to be beneficial for everyone. So please, as you have your questions or conversations that you want us to bring up, please pop them in the chat and we'll try to get to everything.
So, kind of wanted to start off a little bit more general and just talk a bit about the pros and cons of being a woman in technology and in IT. So let's start. Maybe I direct the question to Sally to start and then we can kind of work around about, what are some of the benefits of working in IT? What do you like about it?
Sally: I mean, I think it's a fantastic industry to work in. I get to combine two things I'm really passionate about. I get to work in the higher education sector. So, that's something that's really, really important to me. I was kind of a mature student. I didn't get my degree until I was kind of 32. So being able to kind of contribute to that is really important to me. And then working in the technology sector is fantastic. I think I never realized kind of before the start of my career just the kind of variance and the different things you get to get involved in, the different projects, and actually the impact and the difference that you can make. My role is really people-oriented, which I absolutely love. I really do like working to deliver great services for our students. It's just something that I really care about. And it's never dull. It often can be quite reactive, but that means it's never boring. It can be difficult to plan sometimes, but, you know, that's fine because it makes it fun.
And then I also really like it because you get to be part of some really great communities. And so I'm part of the Service Desk Institute community. I know Scarlett well. I go to a lot of their events and stuff. I mean, I've had loads and loads of support from them over the years. And I'm an Ivanti customer, so I'm part of the Ivanti community. And I'm particularly pleased to say that I've been kind of involved with The Techie Girls initiative from its inception. And I just love what it's offering and what it's able to do. And the fact that that's not just limited to Ivanti customers, I think, is fantastic.
Erica: Fantastic. We love having Sally involved. She's definitely been key from the very beginning of it all. Okay. So Scarlett, what about you? What do you love about being a woman in tech?
Scarlett: So one of the main things for me is the sense of community and support between women. It's really heartwarming and then to see, especially on social media, if you're someone like me and you don't get out of the office too, too much, on social media, you can see just women supporting women. And it's absolutely fantastic. And also when you see women progressing and showing their strengths, it feels like a win for every woman in tech. And that's something that I particularly like.
Erica: I agree. I love just seeing on Twitter when someone posts one of their own successes or someone posts another woman's success, it's just reading through the comments, it seems to be the only time where internet comments are actually [inaudible 00:16:29]. But I go through, and it's really quite wonderful to go through them. So I love that. What about you, Hannah?
Hannah: Yeah, I mean, I love problem-solving, so working in technology has been an environment for me where, you know, we're always looking at solving problems. We're always, you know, aiming to deliver the best products. And I love being...you know, innovation and staying ahead of the game. I love the fact that technology, you know, doesn't stand still for a second. It's completely dynamic and forward-thinking. It's provoking and challenging. And every day is different. And as a woman, you know, working in that environment, I absolutely love it. I love talking to customers and partners, you know, finding out their needs, and then working with engineering to deliver that and kind of closing the cycle, like, full loop. It really is a great environment to work in and a great sort of area of business to be in. Most definitely.
Erica: Fantastic. Okay, so from switching from the positive, I kind of wanted to ask the group about some of the challenges you faced or a woman you know have faced and ideas to remediate those challenges. Let's start with Scarlett on that. Do you have any ideas there?
Scarlett: Yeah. So something that you hear about a lot that I've seen, I've experienced, women often spoken over or not taken seriously, given stereotypical roles, things like that. And I think some of the things that we can do, not just as women, but as colleagues to support women in those situations is, if you notice someone being spoken over or someone just repeating their ideas and getting the credit for it is to actually call out and say, "Actually, I think this person was talking," or, "Actually, yeah, that's a really good idea and I think that it came from this person." So I think, being able to identify situations where women are sort of being knocked down a bit and helping to sort of fix it is something that everyone can do.
Erica: I think that's a good point. Also, a question we see a lot just in the Twitter community is from men saying, "What can I do? What are some easy ways that I can help women impact?" And I think that's a really easy way to start, of just noticing when women are maybe being looked over or are just not listened to and call it out and make sure she has the opportunity to be heard. I think that's kind of an easy win for men and women. So thanks for bringing that up. What about you, Hannah? What kind of challenges or ideas to remediate challenges have you experienced?
Hannah: Yeah, I think, you know, sort of continuing from what Scarlett has said there, sometimes I think there's a feeling that you're not considered knowledgeable enough to be in a field that you're in, maybe sort of left off team communications. Sometimes with the role that you have, you're possibly circumvented. People go and continue to ask people until they get the answer they want, when you may be the right person to go to all along. So all of those kind of, you know, challenges I've experienced as a woman working in technology. And I think you're right, you know, one of the things you can do is call it out. I think, you know. But all genders can help out. And if they identify it, try and remediate it. You know, I think a lot of it is gonna come with a mindset change that's gonna come over time.
I think, you know, not just the challenges that I've identified there, there's, you know, the other challenges around the role that maybe you play as well or the role that you have within technology. So for example, I get a great opportunity to travel lots of different time zones and work with people in lots of different time zones. But obviously, that comes with its own pros and cons. You know, I get to experience new places and culture and meet lots of different people, but often those meetings in the evening eats into family time. So there's, you know, a need for, I guess, the work environment to be flexible. Which, you know, certainly, things are moving in that direction for everyone, I believe. Because it's not just specific to women, that particular challenge. But I think overall as a woman, I think it's just really, you know, like I say, sort of, if you hear it or see it, trying, again, like Scarlett said, to call it out and try and look for a mindset change within your organization.
Erica: Flexibility is a major part of the conversation in women in tech now, which is great. And we're getting some comments in the chat as well of people who are kind of agreeing with what you both have said, just about. One person is saying that people often deal with them online and think they're a man. And then when they meet them in person, they [crosstalk 00:21:57]. So yeah, I think that's an interesting point that Lee brought up. Sally, did you have any comments about that?
Sally: Yeah. I mean, some of the challenges, it can be quite boring when you're the only woman in the room. You know, I get tired just turning up to kind of meetings where it's just all men. I think diversity brings with it different viewpoints. And where there are different viewpoints are different...you get different outcomes, which is exciting to me. And that's what I like. I do feel that sometimes IT kind of feel like a bit of an old boys club. And I think we'll be talking a bit more about that shortly. And I've occasions where I've been underestimated. Less so now as I'm getting older, but maybe certainly when I was younger, particularly because of the way I look. So having blonde hair and having a very broad Yorkshire accent as well, I don't, you know, look or sound like a typical IT manager. And that sometimes catches people out. Just generally, the perception rather than, you know, captivity is definitely true. But I just feel I have to work that little bit harder, but that way can be effective to be taken seriously.
You know, I am hugely concerned about the lack of diversity in IT. I think when technology is being used everywhere by everyone, then surely everybody should be involved in its development. I think there were some recent cases, really terrible biases being built into algorithms. And that's not just a gender issue, that's the kind of general diversity.
And my big thing is, as well, is language. And it's often unintended and unintentional. But some of the language that is used to describe women just wouldn't be associated with male colleagues. So I've been called bossy, fatty, emotional, pushy, ball-breaker. I think that's my favorite one. And these are all things that my...you know, my boss could...they're very similar traits that you would see in my boss, which is not language that would ever be kind of used to describe that.
So I think they're the kind of challenges I experience on a day-to-day, I think. I think the best way to remediate the challenge is to recruit more women and more diversity into the sector and then we stop being sort of novelty and we start being the norm. And I think to do that, we just need to promote technology as an exciting sector to work in and get rid of the gender stereotypes. And I think there's lots of things we need to do around that. Blind recruiting tools that can be used to remove gendered language in job adverts. Flexible working is my big one and support for families. I know that and Helen mentioned that. But, you know, the reality is only when childcare becomes a shared parental responsibility will women actually get equality in the workplace. And I think that's a key one. And there's lots of good organizations now that are working towards, you know, that better flexible working and being able to offer options for kind of shared childcare and things.
And then again, just repeating what Scarlett and Hannah said about being prepared to challenge and call out misogyny and gender stereotypes when we see it. I mean, ultimately, it's often done unconsciously. You know, so you don't have to call it out in an aggressive manner. But if you don't tell people, if you don't give them that feedback, they can't really change their behaviors. And so [inaudible 00:25:09] just kind of mentioning it and saying that it's better than repeated awkwardness and the same kind of patterns continued. And I have actually got experiences of that as calling it out and sort of being quite horrified because they just weren't aware of how it came across. So I think it's just being willing to put your head above the parapet and speak up a little bit sometimes.
Erica: I've noticed that quite a bit as well. Because generally when I call out maybe something that's been said that's just sexist or inappropriate, generally, the men are, like you said, quite horrified that they said it and they're embarrassed and they feel really bad. I mean, it's good, right? But it's generally not done maliciously. But I think I've noticed when I call it out, even if I do it in a way that's kind of, you know, almost trying to be humorous about it, if they ask...if a boss asks me to do roles that maybe a secretary would do versus someone in my role, I, you know, try to call it out and not make it serious, so he knows that it's something that he shouldn't do. And I've noticed a lot of benefit from that. And we're getting loads of comments just about gender inequality and the assumption that women kind of don't know what they're doing, and getting rid of stereotypes. So it's great to see that this is kind of resonating with everyone.
So going into what we were saying about gender equality, Scarlett wrote a report last year that was really wonderful about gender equality in ITSM. And in the follow-up email for this webinar, I'll include a link to that just so you all can go and read that. Scarlett, just kinda in general, can you, for those who haven't read the report, talk to us about what the report was. What were some of your main takeaways and what surprised you? Kind of give us an introduction to that?
Scarlett: Yeah. So the report was actually based off of an event that we did with Ivanti last year, where service desk professionals could sort of share their thoughts and consents and ideas around gender equality and ITSM. And we wanted not only to inspire attendees and empower them to support gender equality in their workplaces, but also create a space that allowed people to share their challenges and experiences and discuss ideas and what we could do and actually what we are doing to improve gender balance within workplaces and within the ITSM community.
So, sort of the main takeaways range from things like key barriers that women face in this industry. And something that popped up a lot was that women felt that this field was very male-oriented, male-dominated, sorry, and the trouble that we actually have recruiting women, and that women just simply aren't applying to tech roles. And then that led into what we can do to encourage young girls to join STEM careers, which will eventually hopefully translate into more women in the technology sector. And finally, what we can do to actually help women currently in tech positions to progress and empower them in their careers.
Something which I found quite surprising, maybe I shouldn't have, is the amount of brilliant advice that people had and just the amazing things that we're already doing. And if we are able to do that on a much larger scale, you know, it really opened my eyes to how strong this community is and how much we can do to make things better and easier for women in tech and diversity, in general, moving forward.
Erica: Okay. Fantastic. So one of the things that I thought was really interesting when I read that report was, you talked about how, I think it was 56% of women in tech careers will leave at the midpoint of their career, which is about twice the rate as men. So I wanted to kind of hear your thoughts on encouraging women to stay in the industry so that we can support a gender balance.
Scarlett: So that research actually goes into where women go after they leave the tech sector. And 80% stay in employment. So a lot of people might think that, you know, that 56% of women have left to have families or something like that or care for family members. But 80% actually stay in employment. Forty-nine percent continue using their skills from their tech careers either in startups or self-employment or jobs in government or nonprofit. So I think what we can learn from that is that it's the environment of tech roles that we see...why we're seeing women leaving. And again, that research shows that lack of training and development opportunities is what causes a lot of women to leave. So I would say that it's not just women that are affected by this. I'd say that a lot of men struggle with training and development opportunities, but women, I don't think, can afford to miss out on those sorts of things. So they need to be more dynamic and move to other areas to be able to fully grow and take those opportunities.
Erica: So, another thing that you talked about quite a bit in the report was the recruitment piece. So can you talk a little bit about just, in general, your findings when it comes to recruitment of women in IT?
Scarlett: So a lot of them, a lot of the discussion from that event was around the struggle that recruitment has recruiting women and some of the advice centered around what we can actually do with job adverts and the actual recruitment process. Because we were talking about this earlier, in fact, that women say that they need to meet 100% of the requirements of a job spec before they apply, whereas a man might only want to make sure that they meet 60%. And there have been cases where a job advert might say that they need, you know, 10 years' experience in Ruby coding, but actually, the language isn't even that old. So I think considering the requirements of your job spec, whether they're actually necessary or not, is something that will hopefully help you see more women applying to that role. And if they are able to see that they can actually do that role, then they're more likely to apply to it.
And also being transparent. So advertising the perks of the role as it were, whether it's with flexibility or job sharing or things like that. If there are things that you can offer that make that job more attractive to female applicants, then do it. It doesn't just have to be a basic job description of, "This is what the job role is, apply." And also during the interview process, including quite a diverse interview panel. Because if I'm a woman, well, I am a woman, but going into a job interview, if I'm being interviewed by three white middle-aged men, I'm probably gonna be pissed off. But if I'm being interviewed by, maybe there's a woman on the panel, maybe there's a person of color, then I'm more likely to feel that I would belong in that company.
Erica: I absolutely agree. For me, I think a major red flag that would stop me from pursuing a role would be who...am I being interviewed by women or not? And one thing I see even earlier on in that is if there's...I'll check their website, the company's website. Are there women on their website featured? Because that's even a step in front of that, trying to see how the company positions women.
I wanted to get back to something that you said a little bit earlier just in kind of what holds women back from applying to roles. We talk a lot on the Ivanti Women in Tech blog about self-doubt as a major barrier and kind of impostor syndrome. So I wanted to open that question up to the group and talk about advice and to help with self-doubt. Sally, do you wanna get us started on that?
Sally: Yeah. So I think the first thing is to kind of recognize that that's what it is. You know, it's unlikely that, you know, that you can't actually do what's being asked of you or you can't go for that promotion. That actually there is this thing called impostor syndrome, and it's quite real. And just kind of acknowledging it and recognizing it, I think, is really important and understanding that's what it is.
I think secondly, knowing that a little bit of self-doubt and a little bit of kind of that impostor syndrome can actually be your friend. A colleague of mine wrote a really fantastic blog about how you can kind of utilize that for that internal reflection and kind of use it as a desire to want to be better. And then it's just, know that no one person is 100% confident 100% of the time, no matter what kind of they're presenting outwardly. And I think that that's something that helps me, you know, that other people do get these feelings as well.
And the other thing I would say is, you know, if you do have a particular...that kind of little voice on your shoulder that's kind of talking to you all the time in a negative way, if you put people around you that will talk to you in a positive way, and will...you know, that you can go to and say...you can actually say to them, "You know, what am I good at? You know, where could I add value to this role?" Because that's actually really, really empowering. So putting people around you that will give you the positive talk will kind of increase that confidence.
And actually, the more kind of you push yourself and the more risks you take. The first time you kind of push yourself out of your comfort zone is actually really difficult. You know, it's when we feel our most vulnerable. But the more you kind of do it, the feeling doesn't go away, the kind of self-doubt and the nerves and the vulnerability, but you just get more used to kind of experiencing it. So for example, I get really nervous when I do public speaking, but I actually use that to my advantage. So yeah, I think there's lots of tips and tricks you can kind of pick up from other people that helps manage it.
Erica: And Sally, one thing that we were talking about a little bit before the webinar started was that self-doubt and those attitudes, it starts long before you enter the workforce. It's something you learn as a child. You kind of get into kind of what we were talking about a bit with that earlier.
Sally: So my children are all grown up now. And I've got a 27-year-old, a 20-year-old and a 19-year-old. And one of the things I've realized is what's kind of changed, and not for the better, I think, in the last sort of 20 years is how we gender children from a really young age. And it's everything from toys to clothing to kind of the way that...you know, there's been big studies about the way that teachers treat boys and girls in the classroom. And I think there's definitely that thing that, you know, boys will be boys. We encourage them for rough-and-tumble. We encourage them to take risks, but that's not something we necessarily recognize and encourage in girls. You know, we teach them to be nice and to be kind and to be positive and to be caring.
There's lots of kind of research around things like, if you look at some of the slogans on t-shirts, and it's all, you know, "When I grow up, I want to be a princess," "I want to be a unicorn." And, you know, "My mommy and daddy love me." And then you look at the kind of things on boys' T-shirts or toys, t-shirts or so, you know, [inaudible 00:37:50]. And that, you know, "When I grow up, I'm probably gonna be a scientist," and that kind of stuff. And, you know, I think we need to do a lot more at the grassroots in terms of how we treat our young people and actually raise young girls to believe that they can do anything and be anything. That they don't have to sit in the corner and be quiet and be nice. Not that there's anything wrong with being nice, but we need to...you know, we need to raise girls to have aspirations.
I've got a fantastic story about a friend of mine whose little girl was involved in an assembly at school. And it was a presentation from the local fire service. And she said that when she grew up, she wanted to be a firefighter. And one of the little boys said, "Serena [SP], you can't be a firefighter because you're a girl." And actually, she gave it to him with both barrels and was like, "I can. I can do anything I want." And that's because of the kind of support she got at home. So I think we have to do more at grassroots and kind of try and change the aspirations of young girls, really.
Erica: I love that.
Hannah: Yeah, sorry, I was gonna say I agree with that wholeheartedly. I mean, I myself, I've got a daughter that's currently studying her A-levels, but a while back and maybe one for [inaudible 00:39:09] companies to take on that, she wanted to actually do a work experience placement for a week in engineering and she couldn't get it. She couldn't get it at that age because it was...she was told there wasn't anything for her to do, that they couldn't insure her to be onsite. And I have to confess, that's probably put her off now. So when she was sort of 15, 16, 14, 15, 16, she was interested in engineering and she was turned down every time on a week's work experience that they get here in the UK and not given that chance to try that, you know, work experience in a company, doing what, at the time, she loved. And so she's changed her aspirations due to that. Now had it been different, she might be looking at a different career right now or different opportunities at university.
So I think that's something, you know, that certainly companies and organizations need to take away who are in technology industries, that there's a change there that could be made, a teenager, younger-level. Obviously, we've got these great programs with STEM, but there's also within the sort of the school forum, you know, children get timetabled events, and really opening that up for those people as well. So opening up for young girls.
Sally: I'll just add to that as well. I think some of the forward-thinking companies are cottoning on to this really quickly and are actually running programs specifically for encouraging more women and more diversity. So hopefully, other organizations will kind of cotton on because they're having a lot of success. And I think the one thing we've not touched on at this moment, by this point is the fact that there is significant studies and evidence that show that organizations that put kind of diversity have diversity within their gender and ethnicity and everything at senior level are massively more successful than those that don't. So hopefully, that's common but maybe not as fast as I would like at the moment.
Erica: So one question we just got in the Q&A that kind of has to do with what we're talking about. I wanted to open up to you all and to those on the chat if you have any ideas. Sandra asks, "How do we prepare our daughters for the pushback?" And she said, especially girls of color. Do you have any ideas? Maybe start with Hannah. You mentioned your daughter kind of got the pushback actually that was really disheartening. How do you recommend we kind of talk to our daughters about this sort of thing?
Hannah: Yeah. I mean, I hope for my daughter specifically that I'm proving to be a great role model for her. You know, a lot of what I do, pushing myself outside my comfort zone, working, as I have done for I guess 13 years in a predominantly male-orientated environment. Yeah, I've had my challenges, but I talk to her about them. I talk about my day, who I've spoken to, what I've been doing at work. I try and...you know, obviously, it's not all negative. There's huge positives in there as well. That it's exciting. That it's challenging. You know, that it uses all of my skills and it teaches and I learn and I get taught from what I do as well. So I think one great thing is looking out for role models and talking positively about working in technology.
You know, I'm sometimes slightly disappointed that she's now sort of changed her love and her passion and she wants to go down a different route, but that doesn't mean that she won't turn back to it. I know what teenagers are like, for example. But definitely, I think it's about having, you know, key role models out there. You know, whether it's peers or yourself. That's how, you know, your children or other children can kind of aspire to be like you. I think that's one great way of encouraging more females and more diversity in the workplace. Because they're gonna grow up knowing that it's something that's good to do and great to go for and to reach for the heights, you know.
Sally: And if I can just jump in there as well. I think this one is my biggest learning points, and it's something that took me kind of a while to come to the realization, but actually knowing that, you know, as woman in IT, that is your unique selling point, and actually being able to pitch that when you go out to interviews or, you know, kind of putting yourself forward for opportunities is that when you are in a minority, whether that's gender, ethnicity, age, religion, whatever, that you bring something unique to that conversation and to not be kind of worried about amplifying that. And actually, putting that forward as your unique selling point.
So first few years of my career, I spent quite a lot of time kind of trying to emulate everything that was around me. So very traditional male leaders, and then quickly realized, you know, the last thing that IT needs is more of the same. What it needs is different. And just, you know, instilling that confidence that they are good enough and that they do...they are entitled to that seat at the table. And I think some of that comes with age a little bit, but yeah, the fact that it's your unique selling point and not being afraid to kind of promote and amplify that.
Erica: Fantastic. Thank you. Okay, so Scarlett and I were talking about this a little bit before. I wanted to open it up to Hannah and Sally as well. Are there any...like, what are you looking for in a company when you apply for a job? Or on the flip side, are there any red flags that stop you from pursuing a role?
Sally: Sorry, was that one for me?
Erica: Yeah, let's start with Sally on that.
Sally: Sorry. Yeah. In terms of red flags, and I think there were a couple of things I would and that would initially kind of make me concerned. I think gendered job ads are a massive turn-off. So I don't want to be a rock star or a ninja or a master. So if I see any words like that in a job description, I would just rule them out immediately. For me, it kind of sums up everything that's wrong with IT.
Also, I'd also look for diversity within the senior leadership team of any organization or any company. You know, a lack of diversity would flag up sort of a bit of an alarm to me. And I realize that that would narrow my options. And just knowing, you know, if you get into that interview stage, just reminding yourself that when you're going in, you are interviewing that company and that organization as much as they are interviewing you. So there are certain things I would be looking for. I'd be looking to make some external validation around equality and diversity. So there's things like the Stonewall list or the 12 Investors in People and things like that
Hannah: No, absolutely. I agree with that. I think when you're talking about, you know, you're interviewing the company just as much as they're interviewing you. And I think, you know, I completely echo it, it's about the company's values and the culture that it has. You know, that diversity is an element within all the values and all the culture that the company has. You know, the team, the team that you're being interviewed to work with, you know, making sure you get a feel for that team. And do you wanna work with them? And do they wanna work with you? Are there opportunities gonna be there for you to learn and to grow, you know, on that job description? Does it list, I think Scarlett mentioned before, like 10 years' worth of experience in something that you don't have that experience in but when you actually have applied for the role and you're going for the interview, that your mind is put at ease, that it's more about the individual that they are interviewing for and skills often can be taught? So yeah, it's about, you know, being...making sure the company is secure and stable, room to grow, you know, and challenging...will challenge me in a positive way.
Erica: So just kind of finishing up the recruitment piece, I wanted to go back to Scarlett. Scarlett, do you have any other ideas you wanted to share on how to encourage more women to apply for roles IT or in tech?
Scarlett: We were talking about it a bit earlier, but I think flexibility is a massive, massive thing, especially with a lot of women being primary caregivers both for children or the elderly. So things like flexible work hours or offering two part-time roles as a job share instead of just one full-time role and things like that. Working from home or remote working. Those definitely are gonna be things that women are looking at. So that extra bit of support when they're applying for jobs.
Erica: Perfect. Thank you. Okay. So we've been talking a bit about dealing with sexism in the workplace just throughout this. I wanted to jump to a piece of sexism that a lot of women feel like they've experienced, which is the boys club or kind of lad culture when it comes to working in tech. So let's start with Hannah. Are there any ways that you've seen kind of a boys club culture in technology or felt maybe excluded from opportunities because of that attitude?
Hannah: Yeah, I guess so. I think, again, probably not meant maliciously, but there's activities that go on within [inaudible 00:49:38] Ivanti, for example, we all know who I work for, is that, you know, they have things like, they have, you know, weekly football and weekly rugby and all that kind of stuff. Now, whilst, you know, it's not gender exclusive, but it is insinuated because the invites, you know, aren't extended. I've never been invited, for example. So that could make you feel excluded as a woman. You know, there's...some parts of the organization have gym areas and specifically, there's lots of guys in there that go in there and use them for weight training. And that makes others, and not just females, feel quite intimidated and they don't wanna go and work out or lead that healthy lifestyle.
So yeah, it can...those sorts of, not boys club, but sorts of more male-orientated, dominated things can be sort of, I guess, not nice for women in that situation. And sometimes, you know, there's informal, I guess, opportunities to network when other people visit from the office and, you know, it's a curry on a night out or a drink at the pub. And often, I think even now it's seen that, you know, if you go along as a woman, you know, it could create gossip, office gossip. And you don't want that. So you'd rather have different opportunities to network or do something socially.
Erica: Sally, do you have any thoughts on boys club culture? Any additions to what Hannah said?
Sally: Yeah. I mean, I don't think it's an addition, I guess it kind of complements what she's saying. But I think genuinely, it's just very unconscious. And I don't generally feel it at work. I work in a really supportive environment, although I know that I am often the only woman in the room, and it's not something I'm, like, mega-conscious of. Where I typically experience it is at tech conferences. And so, you know, you kind of walk in and it's wall-to-wall men in suits and they're all talking to each other. It's usually the kind of...the networking is usually built around drinking. So if you don't drink, then that's another kind of barrier.
And I think there's also just an awareness of kind of, you know, mixed gender socializing out of hours, particularly if it's just, you know, one-on-one. It's just something that some people are mindful of. So I don't necessarily experience it myself in terms of day-to-day work, but there is just sometimes that feeling that it is a boys club and that it's a bit cliquey and that it's not always hard to kind...it's not always easy to kind of enter into the initial conversations and things like that.
I think it is really important for organizations to be mindful of the kind of conversations that do happen around the kind of late night drinking and things like that. So they definitely shouldn't be places where decisions are being made, projects are being kind of initiated and opportunities given out. You know, fine, go out for a drink after work. That's okay. We're not saying that needs to stop, but you just need to be mindful of the kind of...that that could exclude certain people.
Erica: That's a really good point. Scarlett, do you have anything that you wanted to contribute to that or any comments about the kind of boys club of working in tech?
Scarlett: Yeah. So Sally was mentioning, you know, going to tech conferences and things like that. Sometimes it does just feel like you're walking into a room full of hundreds of men. And that can be really intimidating. And especially if there's, like, a specific group or team that's sort of, like, set in stone and it's all men, it's really difficult to sort of chip away at that idea that actually, you know, there should be [inaudible 00:53:49]. There should be a more diverse team in the mix.
And I feel like a lot of it, maybe this is just me, but probably not, that it's that sort of self-doubt creeping in again, of, "This is a very intimidating situation. I don't feel like I should put myself out there. I'm just gonna, like, retreat into my shell." So I think that even if you are in that scary situation where it is a room full of men or something like that, being able to put yourself out there and actually make yourself heard and put your face in front of everyone and say, "Yeah, I'm here. I deserve to be here," is that's a really important way to, or a good way to start breaking down that idea of being the boys club.
Erica: Absolutely. Okay, so we're running a bit short on time. I think we've had some awesome conversation and the comments and questions are still pouring in. So thank you. I wanted to go over some final thoughts, but before we do that, I just wanted to open it up to our audience, if you like the webinar or not like it, shoot me a comment in the chat and let me know if you'd like to attend more of these women in tech panels. This is the first time we've ever done a webinar like this. So I'd love to know if you'd be interested in more and what topics you'd like us to cover in future ones. So yeah, if there are any topics that you'd like us to cover, please send those messages in the chat. And while you're doing that, let's tackle some final thoughts. What final advice do you have for women in IT and women in tech? Let's start with Hannah, if you don't mind.
Hannah: No, not at all. I think tech is a competitive career sector, but it is absolutely bursting with opportunity for all types of people, for all women with a wide range of skills, so not just looking for coders, for example. You know, I'm a good example of that. I think as women, we do feel pressure to be perfect, but, you know, society has an expectation on us to be a certain way. And, you know, like beautiful, happy or caring. But it's important to focus on ourself, warts and all, embrace our imperfections. And that can be our enemy in a tech world. You know, we need to be confident. So it's fine to be just you as you are, and that will give you the confidence and strength to just fly in a career in technology. Absolutely.
Erica: Perfect. Sally, what about you? What's some final advice that you have?
Sally: I would just echo everything that Hannah said, but I think there's some things that I would really, really recommend. And I think considering your profile and really think about how you might want to market yourself is really important. And so what you can do to kind of raise your profile. I would look to join a board or a committee or maybe other organizations just as that opportunity to get a profile within your sector. And you might get speaking opportunities and things out of it. And also, it gives you different insights and different experiences. And actually, sometimes you can join a board and a committee and maybe end up working at a more senior level than you would be within your own organization. So I joined an organization within my sector called UCISA back in 2012, and, you know, actually about 50% of my kind of career opportunities have come out of things that I've done through UCISA.
I think the other one would be to seek out an advocate. I think there's a lot of studies that show women and men have equal access to mentors, but men are better at seeking out an advocate. So that's somebody that's more than a mentor. That's somebody that will actively support and promote you to others, and maybe actively look out for opportunities and promotions and things for you. And, you know, if you've got a colleague that's maybe mentoring you, etc., then, you know, maybe ask if they'd be a bit more of an advocate.
And finally [inaudible 00:58:06], but don't be afraid to be different. My biggest light bulb moment came when I realized that being, you know, a woman in IT from a working-class background is actually my unique selling point. And that because I'm different, I bring a different perspective. And that different point of view is actually where my value is. And so if I was, you know, applying for a role, that was the thing that I would draw out in an interview or in an application.
Erica: Fantastic. At Ivanti, we call those advocates our brag buddies. And we all have our little brag buddies to kind of help us talk each other up within the company. So I think that that's great. What about you, Scarlett? What are some of your final thoughts?
Scarlett: So, sort of adding on to what Sally said about groups and programs and things like that, if there isn't anything sort of in your organization or sector that you can join, start one. And so, I think Techie Girls would be an excellent example of that. When we first started seeing Ivanti come out with Techie Girls, it was something that I got really invested in. And I thought it was brilliant. And I started hyping up gender equality and women's issues in SDI. We're only a small company, but, you know, the amount of stuff that we do internally, just, like, talking about women's issues and men's issues and things like that, that's exponentially increased. So if you feel like there isn't something that you can join to start that conversation, start it yourself.
And also, I wanted to go back to what we said earlier about something that everyone can do, which is just being mindful of other people's experiences. And if you notice that a woman is being in shutdown, to actually call that out. Whether you're a man or a woman, you can do that. It doesn't matter. But it's just helping to support everyone and ensuring that everyone is being treated equally.
Erica: Great. Thank you to all of our panelists for your thoughts. I think this has been absolutely brilliant. And then, thank you to our audience. I've loved how much you've been sending messages. Unfortunately, we're not gonna have time today to cover the Q&A, but keep an eye open on the Women in Tech blog. I'm gonna compile some of the questions from here and do a Q&A session on the blog. So hopefully, you'll see your question anonymously on that blog post.
So, again, it looks like people kind of wanna see more webinars like this, so we'll try to do more in the future. Thank you all for joining. And for our guests in Europe, I hope you have a good night. And for everyone in the U.S., have a great day. Thanks again for joining us today for this Ivanti webinar. Have a great one.
Sally: Thank you. Thanks a lot.
Hannah: Thanks a lot.