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The rise of women in tech

Karinne Brannigan

Many studies confirm that the combination of women and technology is powerful. In fact, the inclusion of women in leadership roles is proven to have a positive impact on company profits. Why? Well, it’s thought that having both men and women in top positions leads to a more inclusive company culture, which is a powerful formula for building profits.

According to the Grant Thornton Women in Business March 2017 report, the proportion of senior leadership roles held by women globally has moved by one percentage point—from 24 percent in 2016 to 25 percent in 2017. That said, the percentage of businesses with no women in senior leadership has also risen at the same rate—from 33 percent in 2016 to 34 percent in 2017.

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It’s really positive to see change moving in the right direction. However, if research proves the value of women in senior roles, imagine the benefit we’d see if we increased the pace of this change.

A diverse workplace should be a well-rounded and proactive one, with inclusive leaders of both sexes using empowerment, accountability, humility and courage to bring out the best in their staff. While diversity does not only relate to gender, it is by far one of the first areas for organizations to cultivate when building a truly inclusive workplace.

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Women are figuratively breaking the glass ceiling, making them rise to leadership roles.

Today, they’re standing alongside their male peers in delivering incredible results within the tech world. Not only does their presence shatter the concept that technology-related career paths are only open to men, it helps dispel the myth that female attributes and their skill sets aren’t as valued in the sector. It also encourages those who maybe aren’t so tech-savvy to take note that there are indeed opportunities for women to succeed in technology and it is worth investing in if it’s something they’re passionate about.

I am extremely aware of the huge disparity between women and men entering the tech workforce all over the world. And to be fair to the tech industry, this problem exists everywhere. These disparities are driven by social, psychological and institutional factors that have evolved over generations. This subject strikes a personal and professional chord because I believe, as women leaders we can contribute greatly in making the work culture more inclusive.

However, you can’t just solve the lack of women in leadership as a standalone problem in a vacuum. The current imbalance in numbers cannot be overcome in a short period of time; it can only happen on a generational timeline. We can, however, contribute our time and money to programs today that actively engage women on subjects of technology.

For young women currently considering their career options and goals both inside and outside tech, I suggest starting with internal discovery first and then moving to industry research. Here are some tips based on my experience:

1. Only choose a career in technology if it is an area of passion and interest. It’s a great industry that is literally transforming the world we live in.

2. It is important for young women to know they can have successful careers in the tech sector without committing to a life of programming. There are many ways to add value to tech organizations other than writing code, even in these software-driven times. Take me for example, I get to market an incredible portfolio of solutions.

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3. That being said, the more women who enter the field of customer service and engineering, the more robust and thoughtful our technology solutions will become. The female brain and our human experience are fundamentally different from our male counterparts, so intuitively and philosophically, most people agree that the balance of both genders’ strengths makes for stronger development and product teams.

4. Find a mentor. It’s great if you can find someone who can share their experiences with you and guide you along the way. A word of caution here, don’t find a mentor with the sole objective of professional growth, do it for growing as a professional.

5. Always remember: Results have no gender.

At Dell, we believe corporations play a significant role in building and maintaining a pipeline of talent from diverse backgrounds. In-house training and diversity and inclusion programs not only help employees stay relevant to IT industry trends but help overcome unconscious biases to achieve gender equality in the workplace.

In 2010, Dell created the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) to help women founders access the technology, capital and networks they need to grow and expand internationally. The annual DWEN Summit helps a group of like-minded women share best practices, build business opportunities through collaboration, explore international expansion and access new resources that support business growth. Through our global Youth Learning programs, we also encourage our workforce to engage with future generations of women particularly in the STEM subjects.

Statistics show our diversity numbers are on par with or better than industry averages and Dell is continuously striving to ensure that women and minority team members, customers and suppliers around the world are given the tools they need to succeed in a global workforce. If companies want to see more women in their leadership teams, they will have to address the cultural and organizational issues that prevent them from moving through the corporate pipeline.

As a woman who has now spent many years working with some of the most amazing tech companies on the planet, I am humbled and thankful for the opportunities and experiences that have come out of my time in tech—and hope that more amazing women will join the sector to make it even more innovative and robust. —CONTRIBUTED

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