Women in technology

To Be or Not to Be (Female) in the Tech Workplace

Composite image of smiling hipster woman pointing something

We have all heard much about the #MeToo movement recently

The descriptions are shocking and yet for so many of us not surprising.  They shock because they are easily recognizable, black and white cases of misogyny, hostility, and inequality.    How is this still happening in 2018?  I have seen such cases play out with women I know and the effects are devastating and long-lasting.   However, I have never had something this blatant directed at me; and the fact that I feel grateful for this is ludicrous as it should be the norm and not the exception.

My experience as a woman in tech has been first and foremost is one of consistently being the only woman in the room.  Or if I’m ‘lucky’, one of two or three.  For better or for worse, in that scene you stand out, you are a statistical oddity, a sampling of one.  People in all underrepresented fields understand what this feels like.  It means you are seen for your gender (or race or physical disability or…) first, and all your credentials and accomplishments second.  It means that you spend a lot of time ‘proving’ yourself or justifying yourself before the modifier gets dropped.   You get to be ‘just a scientist’ or ‘just an engineer’ instead of a ‘woman in science’ or a ‘woman in engineering’.

This framework gets drilled in fairly early in school, that you are unique if you are female and are top of the class in calculus.  Or you love high school physics.  In a figurative sense, it means you get handed a superwoman cape and many expectations that go along with it.  Failure is not an option, you must be stellar and not simply near the center of the bell curve.  All that emotional baggage is exhausting to carry around.  I graduated from Bryn Mawr College for my undergraduate studies, one of the Seven Sisters all-women’s colleges.   One of the wonderful aspects of attending Bryn Mawr is that the gender factor is calibrated out because all the physics majors are women!  So you can just be a person who studies physics and astronomy and math along with all your classmates.  For someone who does not seek the limelight, there was comfort in this form of anonymity, if only for four years.

Discrimination does not always manifest clearly, and sometimes you will never know for sure if the reason you were harassed, not promoted, or otherwise mis-treated was because of your gender or because of something else.  Would the same thing happen to a male?  Academics who study these phenomena can run proper statistical studies where they set up the exact same conditions but 50 times the subject is ‘John’ and 50 times the subject is ‘Joanne’, to test outcomes.   A woman navigating her career path has no way to verify such a hypothesis when it happens to her.   After all, in a statistical sense, the research on this topic places good odds that bias is at work, but what to do if there is no way to prove it, if there is no smoking gun?  Instead, women live with suspicions, perform our own post-mortems, swallow our anger and attempt to bury the cynicism to move on with our lives and careers.

What does leadership look like?

Women in leadership and management roles across all industries have much in common with women in tech.  In both cases we are the exception and not the rule, and trying to change the face of what is accepted as normal.    One of the challenges for women in leadership is that the traits we commonly associate with ‘good leadership’ tend to align with stereotypically masculine traits: aggressiveness, self-promotion, outspoken, abundantly confident, taking charge.

However, these behaviors are on the opposite end of the spectrum for what is seen to be acceptable for women, namely compassion and nurturing.  Thus when women exhibit these behaviors, they are overly penalized compared to men.  These traits, which stray from the perceived feminine norm, equate to competence in male leaders whereas for women they produce discomfort.   Women displaying the stereotypically masculine traits face backlash disproportionately over men:  2.5 times, as described by Heidi Kasevich.

However, there is also risk in moving toward that compassionate and nurturing end of the spectrum.

If a woman is not doing all the talking in the meeting and instead allows air time for her advisors before deciding, is she perceived as a wise leader or less competent?  If a woman gives credit for an idea to the originator of the idea, to empower them, instead of taking it for herself, is she perceived as a good leader or someone who does not have her own good ideas?  If she supports an employee to take time off to care for a family member, is she seen as investing in her team or is she not committed to the workplace?  My personal experience is that the traits of servant leadership–which center around empowering, motivating, and advocating for the group members–make for great leaders both men and women, as the works of Adam Grant or Jim Collins can attest.  I have seen this in leaders I have admired, and this is the standard I aspire to.

Seeing the personality before the gender

The approach at companies these days sometimes is one of gender awareness instead of gender blindness.  In other words, the emphasis is on what makes women distinctive over men, as a class of people.  For me personally, I have benefitted from a different mindset.   Because I am a physicist by training and we like talking about spectrum, I think about personality on a spectrum.  For example, on one end there is ultra aggressive and on the other ultra passive.  I have known men and women that populate both ends of this spectrum.  Similarly, I have worked with men who are quiet and non-assertive and women who are the opposite.  Personality traits come not as a gendered package deal, but a la carte.  Thinking this way is helpful because you see the person first and the gender second.  It avoids putting women and men in boxes and making assumptions about what they want and do not want, and what they can and cannot do.

This approach stems perhaps from my Bryn Mawr days when the gender factor was normalized out of the equation.  Seeing the personality before the gender is an idea that has generated support in research circles, as shown in recent excellent articles by Nicole Torres, as well as Catherine Tinsley and Robin Ely.    It does not mean ignoring gender, or downplaying femininity or masculinity, but instead placing it second when meeting someone for the first time, to see them as an individual first.  This can be a powerful tool to navigate around stereotypes, but I have found it also allows a quicker path to the common ground with your co-worker.   It can help get over that initial shock of being the only female in the room.

The pressures for a woman in tech or in leadership to conform to some collective behavioral norm are real.  She regularly performs a tightrope act to balance these external pressures with her own intrinsic need for authenticity.  From my own self-identity standpoint, I have come to know myself as an a la carte collection of personality traits, where some correlate more strongly with a female stereotype and some more strongly with a male stereotype.  Either way, there is risk that a particular personality style will not be well-received, which has certainly played out for me in specific instances.  However, in the end, I must remind myself of all the positive outcomes I have been a part of and the success my teams have experienced along the way.  That is the ultimate measuring stick.  

About the Author

To Be or Not to Be (Female) in the Tech Workplace TechNativeTanya Ramond is Director of Product Management at Bridgesat. Bridgesat is developing an optical communications network that offers secure delivery of big data from low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites at faster speeds and a lower cost than traditional radio frequency solutions.

Women in Tech 2018: What the Statistics Tell Us

Innovative technologies in science and medicine

Women have played a role in computer technology since its inception

Many credit Ava Lovelace as the first computer programmer, in a time before computers even existed, and women from Grace Hopper to the women who worked with Alan Turing at Bletchley Park were key in the development and adoption of modern computing devices. However, the number of women working in tech dropped significantly after the 1980s, and the percentage of tech employees who are female lags far behind other fields, including business, law, and medicine. Still, there are signs of progress, and understanding the statistics pertaining to women in tech is essential for understanding the problems and addressing them.

PwC recently looked at the role of women in tech in the UK. In STEM fields, women accounted for only 15 percent of employees. More distressingly, there are few signs that this number will rise without extra action, as only 15.8 percent of undergraduates in STEM fields are women. Leadership examples can be key toward encouraging more participation among women, yet only five percent of leadership positions in STEM fields are held by women. In PwC’s report “The Female Millennial — The New Era of Talent,” researchers found that young women want to work with employers with a strong history of inclusion, diversity, and equality. Many women see the low number of women in tech and choose to enter other fields.

The PwC reports highlights the problems these disparities create for UK companies. Two-thirds of CEOs in the UK claim to have difficulty hiring people with digital skills, a numbers that significantly exceeds the 43 percent of CEOs who claimed the same in the US and the 24 percent of CEOs in China. Countless studies have shown a shortage of tech workers in the UK and around the world, and this number will only rise. Increasing the number of women entering tech is perhaps the most powerful tool for alleviating this burden.

Of course, these problems aren’t confined to the UK. Statistica recently looked at the tech pay gap in various United States cities. Perhaps the most surprising result was how the small the tech pay gap is in cities not commonly associated with the country’s coastal liberalism. In New Orleans and Indianapolis, the tech pay gap stood at only one percent. In fact, in Kansas City, Missouri, women made 102 percent of the salary of their male counterparts. Among the cities surveyed, Silicon Valley and its adjoining areas fared worst, with pay gaps in San Jose standing at 17 percent, San Francisco at 18 percent, and Fremont at 22 percent. Significantly higher salaries in and around Silicon Valley, however, mean that women might make more in the area in spite of higher housing costs.

Women in Tech 2018: What the Statistics Tell Us TechNative

Around the globe, rates of female participation in tech vary significantly, as does the gender pay gap. These aren’t the only relevant statistics; how likely, for example, are women to successfully climb the tech job ladder? How does female participation in tech compare to the number of women in the job market as a whole? Honeypot took a holistic approach to crunching these numbers to compare 41 countries in the OECD and the EU.

Switzerland came out on top, and European countries generally considered to have better gender equality scored well, with Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway rounding out the top six. The eastern portion of Europe scored some strong results as well, with Slovenia and Finland coming in seventh and eighth. Among larger countries, Germany scored best, coming in at ninth overall, and South Korea rounded out the top 10, representing the first nation outside of Europe in the list. The UK came in 27th place, following the Czech Republic, and the United States placed 34th, following Latvia.

There are reasons for optimism among the sea of distressing statistics. CompTIA, for example, has statistics that show interest in tech among teens has risen by 10 percent since 2012, with girls leading the way at 17 percent. Furthermore, companies, realizing that women will be needed to fill jobs in demand, are taking steps to encourage women to enter the field. CompTIA’s Advanced Women in Tech community provides resources for women looking to enter tech fields, and these resources help connect women with organizations that can help. It’s not always easy to know where to look when considering a tech career, and CompTIA and other organizations are taking a proactive approach to providing guidance.

There’s no easy solution to the tech gender gap, and even determining the causes of the gap is difficult. However, it’s a problem the industry needs to solve, as even if women enter tech in large numbers, there are still projected to be millions of unfilled jobs going forward. Still, there are reasons for optimism, and there’s hope that women will achieve critical mass in the field and provide a more welcoming environment to future generations.

About the author

Women in Tech 2018: What the Statistics Tell Us TechNative

Ludmila Morozova-Buss is Vice President of Public Relations and Media Communications at Global Institute for IT Management (GIIM) & Executive Partner at Brooks Consulting International (BCI) – a boutique global marketing, branding, and government relations firm specializing in Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies.

At the Global Institute for IT Management (GIIM) we help IT and non-IT leaders overcome uncertainties, be well prepared to meet the challenges of the digital transformation, and lead organizations to success in transition.

How Women In Cloud is turning the tide for female tech entrepreneurs

Cloud computing conception

Despite the cloud opportunity being pegged at $4.5Trillion dollars, female tech entrepreneurs capture less than 2% of market share

Research conducted by the  Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)  found that “In 2016, an estimated 163 million women were starting or running new businesses in 74 economies around the world. In addition, an estimated 111 million were running established businesses. This not only shows the impact of women entrepreneurs across the globe but highlights their contributions to the growth and well-being of their societies”. These findings highlight the even greater gender disparity in the tech industry. 

The Women in Cloud initiative, a joint effort from Microsoft, Meylah and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, hopes to turn the tide with a program that advances female tech entrepreneurs, giving them access to resources, distribution, customers and advisors to leverage the power of the cloud, as well as a robust accelerator to help them meet investors.

The initiative was largely the result of connections made at Microsoft Ignite in Washington. Through informal meetings, founders  decided to create an initiative to celebrate female tech entrepreneurs along with providing resources to leverage existing and future technology. The effort also aims to provide education and resources on forming partnerships with industry and government partners. The community is first focused on US companies in and around Washington, but with an eye towards supporting entrepreneurs elsewhere eventually too. Although the initiative is still young, it’s already made significant strides and aims to start a movement.

At the official launch of the initiative on 2nd March 2018, Gretchen O’Hara, VP Go-To-Market Strategy, One Commercial Partner at Microsoft told accelerator participants that Microsoft is “deeply committed” to the initiative, including one on one support.

One of the things I am very excited to announce, is I have been working personally to get a Microsoft Executive assigned to each and every one of you as a mentor and advisor of this incubator, and I have been able to accomplish that.

Friends in High Places

Partnerships are at the core of any successful tech enterprise and finding and fully utilizing the right tools can make the difference between success and failure. Through the Women in Cloud Accelerator, participants can work to find the ideal suite of tools to fully realize their efforts. The interaction and guidance offered at the accelerator benefits both parties: Participants receive discounts and top-notch consulting, while Microsoft and HPE can help entrepreneurs build their client base and encourage participants to share their knowledge with others. We recently spoke to one of the initiative’s co-founders, HPE’s Carrie Francey.

The six-month Women in Cloud accelerator program relies on proven and well-tested methodologies – participants all gain access to and incentives for using the latest in Microsoft and HPE technology. Currently, the program is limited to just 20 to 30 participants, ensuring those involved receive ample attention. Participants also get access to leading industry experts who provide coaching and mentoring.

Those who participate will take part in a one-day immersion workshop to cover the basics. All participants will also receive extensive one-on-one coaching. Those who migrate to the Azure platform will receive free assistance, a benefit worth $1,500, and up to $5,000 worth of solutions architecture and users experience developing billed at 50% off. The curriculum also involves 100 hours of personalised and interactive training along with cloud development strategy sessions. The business side is covered as well; funding and negotiation strategies are part of the program, as is content for pitch preparation, lead generation, deal negotiating, and co-selling. Participants are asked to pay an $1,000 administrative fee, as well as being encouraged to share their own skills back with the community by mentoring, advising, and recruiting young interns along with investing in the future where possible.

Who Participated in 2018?

Graduates from its inaugural class of 12 companies are already praising the experience and looking forward to utilizing what they’ve learned to make the most of cloud opportunities. In total, 12 companies were selected to participate in this year’s program. Kate Isler launched Daysaver to bring cloud-based healthcare scheduling to some of the largest healthcare providers. Like many newer companies, Daysaver needs to rely on scalable infrastructure to grow, and the difficulties of predicting future demand and determining the best way to handle growth makes determining cloud requirements difficult. Through the accelerator, her company will be better able to handle taking on new clients.

Other participants include Clever Databases, Red Sky, Computing Kids, Stylyze, Plantmatch, Agile Impact Group, Bitlume, genneve, Automation Marketing, Visual Media Group, and RightScience.  CEO of genneve, Jill Angelo, stated that the program helped her company leverage the power of Microsoft and HPE’s expansive network and prepare to take her business to a business-to-business audience. Sharon A. Davison, Ph.D. and CEO of Red Sky, called the program the “missing link” for achieving growth and boosting revenue.

When successful women come together great things happen. Red Sky is thrilled to be part of Women in Cloud Accelerator program sponsored by Microsoft, HPE and hosted by Meylah. This is a huge opportunity for us to build our cloud business and utilize the support of these great partners along this exciting journey.

We recently caught up with Meylah’s Chief Marketing Officer and Women in Cloud co-founder Chaitra Vedullapalli to find out why the initiative is so important.

The Women in Cloud initiative may be young, but it’s an ambitious effort led by talented individuals aiming to create bridges for the world’s most promising female tech entrepreneurs to develop and share resources. Given it has the backing of both Microsoft and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, its accelerator promises to provide a solid foundation upon which the initiative can spread. Its founders are currently looking for cloud advisors, mentors to support the participation of their cohorts. In addition, they are seeking companies to reach out and explore how they can provide access and opportunity to adopt solutions in their ecosystems. Pledge today!

How Cloud Girls is Making a Difference For Women in Technology


The future of innovation in tech depends on a strong and empowered workforce

Yet because of systemic stigma and the glaring gender pay gap, many women still don’t feel at home in technology roles or see a clear route to the leadership roles they deserve. Cloud Girls, a non-profit and vendor agnostic initiative, is changing that thinking by providing a solid support network, mentoring and technical expertise to women working in the cloud industry. We spoke to their leadership team Jo Peterson, Tina Gravel, Khali Henderson and Tamara Prazak to find out more about their work.

What can women do to raise concerns around the gender pay gap that exists in the industry?

“Don’t be shy if you think you are in a position that is not fairly compensated tell HR. If you need to do so anonymously do it. Far better to speak up than accept it. Secondly do not hesitate to discuss with other women to see if your assessment checks out. Discuss locally with those most concerned about this, press, women’s organizations and other  groups that are sympathetic to the cause ” (Tina Gravel)

Many specialties like coding and cybersecurity are facing a skills gap.  Can companies do more to make sure these kinds of roles are on the radar of female candidates?

“I think we have to do more “grow your own”. By selling internally to girls and women the benefits of working with technology and then providing training and mentorship we can all do better.” (Tina Gravel)

What is the Cloud Girl’s Mantra and what prompted you to start it?

“Our mission is to unite female technology thought leaders to advance the conversation about cloud solutions through education, collaboration and inspiration for our companies, our customers, ourselves and the next generation of women in tech.” 

Our vision is to inspire and    empower women as thought leaders in the evolving cloud and next-generation technology space. I guess if we had a mantra, it would be “We rise”.  We’ve purposefully kept Cloud Girls small and by invitation only so we could really receive the thought leadership that each member has to bring to the table.

“My founding co chair, Manon Buettner, and I believed that if we started a group for women in cloud services where we could share education and information among thought leaders, we’d all learn and benefit.  The networking and mentoring that happened were natural byproducts of the awesome energy that was produced from the group.  The foundation was education.  All of us who are Cloud Girls realize that we have so much to be thankful for—education and the ability to find work that inspires us.  As a result of this gratitude we started Cloud Girls Giving.  We focus on 2 charities a year where we can make impact.  One of our favorites has been Dress For Success. All of us believe in the power of rising and helping other women rise.”  (Jo Peterson)

How does the program aim to help women in the tech industry?

 Cloud Girls provides a platform for women in tech to not only learn about emerging technologies but to build their own personal brands as industry thought leaders, which can be invaluable in helping them to advance their careers either through promotion, raises, opportunities at new companies or leadership roles in industry organizations (Khali Henderson)

“The Cloud Girls organization aims to help women in the tech industry through three actions-

  • Empower– We provide members with support, collaboration and mentorship opportunities to reach our career goals while helping others.
  • Inspire- We seek to encourage and empower women to succeed and to inspire the next generation of women in Cloud.
  • Growth– We provide opportunities for growth through education, mentorship, philanthropy and a community of industry leaders focused on the advancement of women in technology.” (Tamara Prazak)

How has an organization focused on women in tech like Cloud Girls made a difference for you?

Most importantly, being part of Cloud Girls has given me access to other women in tech for advice, support and opportunities on a personal and professional level. On the professional front, I leveraged these executive-level connections to bring tech channel leaders to an exclusive    industry forum on distribution.

“That event, in turn, gave the Cloud Girls and/or their companies an opportunity to advance their objectives with C-level decision-makers in distribution. On a personal note, these women have encouraged me and supported me through a career transition, providing an empathetic ear and words of wisdom. They are my go-to for assistance and my go-to for any opportunities I can bring to them. It’s noteworthy that my experience is not unique; ask any of the Cloud Girls and you will hear similar stories” (Khali Henderson)

“For me personally, I’ve been able to contribute to and learn from this tremendously talented and nurturing community.  It’s a supportive group, we bounce ideas off each other, share career advice, discuss industry trends and challenge each other in a supportive fashion.   Through Cloud Girls, I’ve expanded my network and the education aspect of the organization (the focal point of our monthly meetings) has helped me to build my technical knowledge in the cloud space.” (Tamara Prazak)

Find out more about Cloud Girls at http://cloudgirls.org

Women in Technology – Why There’s Still Some Way to Go

Woman touching large computer screen monitor

In many STEM fields, women are making a mark.

Roughly as many women graduate from medical school as men, and about 40 percent of chemists are female. Women are even taking on a majority of jobs in certain fields; more than 50 percent of biological science professionals, for example, and now women. However, the computing field has seen a net decrease in female participation since the 1980s and 1990s, at a time when women were seeing major gains in other fields.

Critical Mass

Women often express feeling uncomfortable when there aren’t other women in the office or their field, and many believe numbers will increase significantly when the number of women in tech reaches critical mass. Researchers have even given a name related to the phenomenon: Imposter syndrome. Being the only women in an office can make someone feel like they’re an imposter who doesn’t belong. Perhaps, many experts believe, increasing the visibility of women in tech will lead to the phenomenon fading over time. Unraveling why women historically haven’t entered the field, however, is important as well.

Women in Technology - Why There's Still Some Way to Go TechNative

Gender Roles

Gender roles have long shaped how society views jobs. The history of women in nursing has made medicine seem like an acceptable field for women, and there is now near-parity among doctors. Although women have long played a role in computer technology, this history is not as well understood, and parents have, historically, been far more likely to encourage boys to explore computing while encouraging girls to consider other activities. This early exposure gap continues today, and early experience with computers can encourage children and adolescents to consider technology as a career possibility. Teaching computing in schools can be a valuable means to close this gap.

Ahead of Ada Lovelace Day 2017, we spoke to Hitachi Vantara COO Lyn Collier to find out how they’re committed to advancing women’s careers. Watch below.


Perhaps the more worrying statistics about women and computing are those showing how often women leave tech fields. When describing why they left, many women point to open hostility from coworkers and bosses. These incidents are often isolated, but many women state they simply didn’t feel safe in the office. Women also point to cultural elements; the “tech bro” culture, especially in Silicon Valley, can be off-putting to both men and women, but women often feel excluded and even demeaned. Less-outward hostility is viewed as a problem as well, as many women in the field feel they don’t get the credit or respect their work demands. This idea is backed by studies that show code produced by women is rated higher when the evaluator doesn’t know the author’s gender. Mandi Walls from Chef spoke to us about why gendered roles may be putting women off of roles in DevOps

Masculine Culture

Some elements of tech culture many men find innocuous can be off-putting for women. While alcohol consumption can be seen as a way to bond with others, women are sometimes wary that it increases the likelihood of sexual harassment or abuse. “Booth babes,” common at some tech conventions, can send the message that men in technology objectify women. Online, women who speak about gender and technology often receive disproportionate, and even threatening, responses. While there’s much that can be done to support women working in tech, these cultural elements can dissuade talented and qualified women from seeking out roles in tech fields. Renée McKaskle, CIO at Hitachi Vantara explains we need to keep moving Women In Tech initiatives forward.

Tech fields are thriving, and employers often express frustration at a lack of qualified professionals. However, half of the potential labor force participates at a disproportionately low rate, and there’s no single solution to closing this gap. While progress has been slow, more and more women are entering tech, and companies both large and small are taking strides to ensure they’re training and recruiting the best talent possible, regardless of gender.