Did you always want to get into the tech industry? How did it all come about?
Tech, not always. I always wanted to be in recruitment. In Canada and North America in general, it's a really popular career to be in. The tech industry element happened over time. This first started when I worked at Tesla, even though it’s a car company, there is a lot of tech involved, and that's where my excitement for tech started. I then moved to Booking.com which, again, is a travel company on the surface, but there's also a big tech element. The tech world moves so fast so the rest of the industries just seem so boring now in comparison - a lot slower and less agile. There's so much innovation happening in tech; it really drew me in. Miro is probably my most tech-heavy role and there's been a lot to learn but I couldn't imagine not being in this industry now.
What has been the driving force to get you where you are today?
Honestly, having fun! I'm not really a person that thinks “in 7 years, I have to do X,Y,Z”. I would like to grow and be more senior but I have pursued companies, opportunities, and promotions that I believe I will truly be having fun in. I have actively declined promotions where perhaps the money is good but I have questioned whether I will be happy. When you’re doing something, and you love it, then the passion naturally elevates you and that is what really helps you grow. So based on that, it's fun that drives me!
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
Firstly, yes. You look at any stats and it will certainly tell you how male-dominated the industry is. The reasons for this? I actually don't know all the root causes, but I think it hasn't been well-positioned to women as a viable opportunity. I think it goes back to early educational days and the information that is funneled down. In university, men are often expected to go more into technical programs like Engineering, where they learn much more about the tech industry. Whereas women are more expected to go into Sociology, Psychology, etc. and get much less exposure to this industry. I think it’s a shame because I find this industry really exciting and I bet many more women would too if they were given the chance to find out more about it, and encouraged to explore it as a career option.
Have you experienced any biases in the tech industry?
Definitely! I feel that, as a woman, I have to adjust my personality style to be taken more seriously in certain professional situations. I am naturally a very outgoing, bubbly person. I am a big personality in the office but I was noticing in the past that I wasn't being viewed as a senior member of the team because my communication style was seen as more “junior”. But was it more junior or was it just more feminine? I had to really consciously dial that back, especially with stakeholders that I knew would perceive it differently. Even today, I will adapt my communication style if I am in a room of just men - I make sure that I am not as bubbly to make sure I’m taken seriously.
How can we encourage more women to enter the tech workforce?
I think in recruitment, we all try to steal from the same pool of women working in Tech which really doesn’t solve the problem. If a company is promoting a workforce of 50% women, it's likely all they've done is hire them from another company rather than working on long term solutions to increase the overall talent pool.
It needs to start with education, and developing programmes specifically for young women in order to ignite the initial interest. We need to work towards young women considering a career in Tech right from the beginning and also focus on making the workplace appealing to them.
For example, companies could go one step further and offer sponsorship programmes for young women to technical universities and programs and create a plan to hire them afterwards. That helps boost the overall talent pool - those women might never have gone otherwise and companies have the opportunity to really support them and change their lives.
Not a lot of companies do this, however, because the benefits are very far away. They would prefer a quick solution, and quick wins, rather than waiting 10 years to see the benefits of these initiatives.
Do you think company initiatives to encourage hiring women have worked? If not, why?
I think they’ve had varying success. Companies that are more successful in this do a couple things: firstly - they focus on going to the market and finding these candidates themselves. You’re not going to get a perfectly diverse pool of candidates just by waiting on inbound applications. Some even take this further and hold off interviewing anyone until they see a diverse candidate pool. This then forces the company to think differently and be proactive. Secondly - they also have a diverse pool of interviewers. You can't request to interview a candidate pool of 50% women if you're not showing this representation within. You have to walk the talk. Thirdly - opening up hiring parameters can also help. For example, removing the requirement of previous tech/SaaS experience would enable women from other industries a way into tech. You can help be a bridge for them going into this industry.
Even small things help: when companies start openly talking about wanting more women representation and begin to set goals, there is accountability and you can start seeing impact.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
Just do it!! It's so much fun - it's constantly changing and developing, and you can have such an impact. Just do it - work for it and have an incredible time!