Even as the tech industry continues to grow as new technologies and data are applied to traditional industries, women in tech remain underrepresented. But there are signs of hope that the gender diversity gap is closing.
Over the past year, women have found their voice to raise awareness around workplace issues such as sexual harassment and pay inequality. Women have been empowered to push for change by banding together and stepping up into leadership roles. Will the tech industry be next to see a surge in female leadership?
We want to take a moment to reflect on the current state of women in tech and celebrate those who are leading the way for the future female STEM workforce.
The State of Women in Tech
While women make up more than half of the U.S. workforce, they remain significantly underrepresented in the tech space – holding less than 20% of U.S. technology jobs.
Employing women in tech benefits both women workers and their employers. According to a 2018 McKinsey study, companies in the top quarter for gender diversity are 21 percent more likely to have better financial returns.
Closing the Gender Diversity Gap
While many companies have implemented diversity hiring initiatives, there’s still more that can be done to retain female tech talent. Globally, the percentage of women in senior IT leadership roles remained at 9 percent in 2017, the same as the year prior.
But progress is being made. Salaries for women are rising faster than male colleagues thanks at least in part to organizations making concerted efforts to review and adjust pay inequities. Also, the number of women studying computer science is on the rise.
Recognizing Syncsort’s Female Technology Leaders
First, we’d like to recognize Syncsort CTO Dr. Tendü Yoğurtçu who has recently been named a finalist for the Women in IT Awards 2018 Data Leader of the Year!
Yoğurtçu is a dedicated advocate for STEM education for women and diversity. “There are two important ways that technology leaders can help drive greater participation by women in STEM. First, they can engage young people and educate them on the benefits and opportunities for women if they focus their education on pursuing a career in technology. Second, as I have tried to do at Syncsort, mentor up-and-coming women and create an environment in your company that empowers women to succeed and to take on leadership positions.”
Yogurtçu was a featured speaker at the Strata Data Conference 2018 in San Jose and also made an appearance on SiliconANGLE’s theCUBE where she spoke about trends in data science, streaming & Cloud, and their impact on data governance.
Of Yoğurtçu’s eight direct reports within Syncsort’s technology group, three are women. These leaders are also worthy of recognition.
Mary Lieser, Director of User Experience, started out in tech as a programmer at IBM in the late ’80s. She later joined Lakeview in 1994, which was later acquired by Vision and then merged with Syncsort last year. “So, I’ve been with the company for over 23 years. I have always had a passion for user experience even when I was working in the IBM i native interface called 5250. Through organic opportunities, I became a designer in addition to my management responsibilities. And now I have been given the opportunity to be the Director of User Experience for all of Syncsort. It is an exciting opportunity in a time when creating positive experiences for our users can have a real impact on their interactions with our company and our software. Making complex topics consumable to users is always a fun challenge.”
Fernanda Tavares, Vice President of Data Integration R&D, offers her thoughts as a woman in tech. “To me it’s about reaching your full potential, and being fully supported in an environment where we get to do what we love and the first thing that people notice is not that you’re a woman. Men and women working together to support each other and helping each other do what we love is what it’s all about.”
Maggie Li, Chief Architect of Mainframe R&D, has found success in the industry by focusing on doing her job well. “You cannot deny that there are more men than women in the technology industry. From my 19 years of experience working at Syncsort, I feel it is important that you perform your job well regardless of gender. If you can prove to your coworkers that you are the best at what you do, they will respect you for that. They will trust you and empower you to succeed whether you are a woman or man.”
Mentorship, Allies and Increased Cooperation
Paige Roberts, Senior Product Marketing Manager, shares her thoughts on the importance female mentorship. “Back when I was just getting started doing data management software support and engineering in a little twenty-person startup, my mentors were women. Without their help and encouragement, I seriously doubt that my career would have taken off like it did. I learned so much from them. Most of all, the confidence they instilled in me to take on new challenges is the one thing that has benefitted me the most in my twenty years in this business. I owe them a great debt.”
Roberts recently co-hosted a webcast, Keeping Data in Sync with Syncsort, with Ashwin Ramachandran, Product Manager of Data Integration, where they discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various change data capture strategies.
Roberts notes that support from male leaders and colleagues has been just as vital. “While we’re celebrating women in tech, I also want to say thanks to the men who support women in tech. I notice, and I think most women notice, when we’re treated with respect and encouraged to shine. As a woman in a technical field, I’ve faced my share of unpleasant experiences, but that just makes the men who are steady allies that much more appreciated.”
Aurélie Godec, Syncsort Business Development, has also felt respected and supported in the male-dominated field, and believes gender diversity is a benefit to tech teams. “As a woman in tech, I’m used to working in a man’s world most of the time. In 15 years, I’ve always felt true respect and parity – what matters is what a team can achieve using the available brainpower, whether onsite with clients or partners, or inside the company structure. The diversity I bring as a woman helps leverage the organization and the communication within the teams for greater efficiency and cooperation. I would encourage women to consider tech jobs as a fair and rewarding opportunity to be part of our constantly changing world.”
Managing Daily Tasks in Any Environment
One challenge faced more often by women in the workforce is balancing the task of raising children while also advancing their careers.
Jill Tatler, Syncsort International Renewals, is a self-described “returner” to the workforce in 2011 after having left in 1986. “What was clear is that all those skills I used in my first career when managing a busy workload, I had also used when organising my life with my children, you know, 3 kids doing 3 different things at the same time… day after day. When you return to work you still have that – you just apply the same skills to the new job. I always have this idea that whatever you need to fit into your day you can – you just need to plan it out – no difference there. Once you return to work (and the Voluntary work I did for a few months really helped) you realise you still have ‘it’ – and actually you didn’t lose it – you just applied elsewhere.” As with any life change, she notes, “You do need to be brave, and this is where other people who have made the jump can help.”
Tatler reflects on the last part of her career journey, “In our company I have been given the opportunity to manage, to travel and to work with inspiring men and women and where there is no glass ceiling. The world of tech appeals to my kids – the younger generation – but how cool that their ‘returner’ mum is also engaged in this industry – I couldn’t be happier.” She adds, “I would say also – my kids are so proud. They see me in a completely different light, and I am really happy with that.”
Highlighting the Work of Women in the Wider Tech Community
Roberts has published a series of expert interviews here on the Syncsort blog, including these amazing women in tech:
- Katharine Jarmul, Founder of Kjamistan, Data Science Consultant and author of Data Wrangling with Pythons
- Yolanda Davis, Senior Software Engineer at Hortonworks
- Holden Karau, Principal Software Engineer
- Neha Narkhede, CTO & Co-founder of Confluent
Be sure to watch our on-demand webcast, Keeping Data in Sync with Syncsort, co-hosted by Paige Roberts and Ashwin Ramachandran, Product Manager of Data Integration. They discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various change data capture strategies.