A: It’s no secret that the tech industry is extremely male-dominated. And according to a recent Comparably survey, one in four women who work in the tech industry has been sexually harassed. These statistics should prove to be alarming, but in today’s society, they are not surprising at all.
By having more women join the workforce at higher levels, there is someone to go to other than just HR if an employee faces an uncomfortable situation or issue. Women in these power positions can affect cultural change in the environment of a company, whether it be the language that is used or the way meetings are conducted.
Q: Why should women consider working in tech?
A: Woman can work in any field, of course. There really isn’t a reason as to why women would work in technology except for if they like tech and/ or a specific company. The reasons to like tech are the same for everyone – it’s a fast-paced industry, and it often creates new markets and solves customer problems. The industry is extremely rewarding for problem solvers and self-starters. Occasionally it feels like uncharted territory. These are all great things! However, the cheeky answer is that we need more women in tech.
Q: How do women stay competitive in the digital tech industry?
A: There are no gender stereotypes here. I view this as the same way men stay competitive in tech. Read a lot. Be open to the changes that are constantly occurring and be able to pivot. Experience will guide you in sifting through what changes to pay attention to and which changes to ignore.
My best advice is if you feel like you are stagnating in your current role, do not be afraid to look at the market and see if there is anything that will challenge you and help develop your career goals. This will keep you competitive simply because you will be constantly evaluating your value against the market.
Q: What are your reactions to the recent news events that have exposed how a culture of sexual abuse can permeate a company?
A: Predators in the workforce are not going away anytime soon. What’s concerning is that this type of environment is allowed to continue. Take Fox News; because Bill O’Reilly was a star and generating big money for the company, he was considered untouchable. An organization should absolutely not function in this way.
Q: What advice do you have for a woman experiencing issues like these in the workplace?
A: It’s a very personal decision, but I would first advise she find somebody who would be able to support and guide her when facing a problem; this does not necessarily have to be another woman. If she is not able to do so for whatever reason, then the decision is figuring out the toxicity of the situation and environment, and if necessary, leave. Oftentimes it is women in less powerful positions who are targeted, or women who are ambitious and keen on working their way up through the ranks, so it can feel like a lot is at stake. Every situation is different, and it’s a tremendously personal choice.
Q: How can women help other women in tech? Are there local groups that you are a part of and have had good experiences with?
A: Networking of any kind will help you in your career. But it has to be meaningful to you. I have had good experiences with a local startup community called Montreal New Tech (http://mtlnewtech.com/). They organize great events every month, and I spoke at their International Women’s Day event two years ago. They are a great support group for entrepreneurs and women in tech.