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International Women's Day - Katy Hanton


Did you always want to get into the tech industry? How did it all come about?

I have always had a go-to-market and sales focus throughout my recruitment career, and on the agency side I was pan-industry including public sector, media, financial services, retail and technology. I have been in the in-house tech space for just over 6 years which includes large global corporate companies, as well as smaller SaaS scale-ups. 

It’s the scale-up companies where I love to be; because as a Recruiter, you can help shape what a team looks like as they grow. At Amplitude I make sure that we are value-driven with our hiring and with that you can have much more of an impact. It's also fun to work for a company offering cutting edge technology solutions - and the work that we do is a game-changer for our clients. 

Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?

It's simple – in my opinion, it is largely to do with STEM subjects. It's never as easy as saying “we need to hire more women” - that is the focus/solution proposed by a lot of tech companies,  but the problem starts way before the workplace - it goes back to school.

Back in the 1990s, when I was at school, I studied physics A-level and I was the only girl in my class. I was asked a couple of times whether I was really sure if that was what I wanted to do -  just because it was so unusual at the time. That's one of the major reasons that we now find ourselves in a situation whereby there are far less women working in the tech space - it wasn't encouraged at school age, back when it mattered. And this is still an issue, although we do have a better balance today and more girls are studying STEM subjects.

In addition, as an industry, traditionally tech is very demanding and historically has offered less flexibility for working Mums (although again, there has been a significant shift in attitudes in the last few years) but this is still another major contributing factor as to why we have far fewer women gravitating to this space. 

Have you experienced any biases in the tech industry? 

Yes, over the last 22 years I have unfortunately experienced sexism, sexual discrimination, sexual harassment – and some of these experiences have been in the 2nd half of my career, so in the fairly recent past. It is still systemic to a degree, particularly within the certain organisations within the tech industry. 

There is still a lot of gender bias in our industry but I do believe it is improving as we are seeing far more forward-thinking, servant leadership styles emerging. But your experience as a woman in the tech industry can greatly depend on your Manager - if you have a forward-thinking leader; then they will encourage intentional motions around equity and internal talent development and lean in to hiring and building balanced teams. If you don't have the right attitude at the top of an organisation, you’re unfortunately fighting a losing battle as the culture will not be inclusive and promote equality. 

In the not so recent past, I have also experienced inequality when it comes to pay. I once worked alongside a male colleague, who had similar experience, doing the same job (and I was outperforming him), only to discover that I was paid just under £20K less on my base salary. When I challenged Management, the justification offered was that my male colleague had simply “negotiated a better salary” than I! There have been so many studies around why Women generally do not advocate for themselves as well as their male counterparts. In this case, there was no regard for levelling within a career ladder or fair and equitable pay…. This organisation were comfortable with the disparity and unfortunately, the gender pay gap is still a huge concern in all industries, including tech. 

Has it ever put you off the industry? 

No, I wouldn't say it has. I am quite outspoken so have called out the injustices and unfair treatment throughout my career. I wouldn't let other people’s prejudice and bias get in the way of doing what I love. Conversely, I can perfectly understand why, and how, it could put a number of women off joining or staying in our industry – it can be exhausting always having to shine a light and advocate for yourself.  

How we can encourage more women to enter the tech workforce?

It is front of mind for a lot of organisations today,  but you can't solve the gender shortage by just hunting for more female employees now.  Partnerships and investments need to be made much earlier, particularly pre-career at school/University if we want to ensure more women enter the talent pools within our industry. 
Work experience should be a big focus, especially for the bigger companies who have a lot of resources and are able to absorb those types of programmes. Female focused internships - companies should work to build relationships with universities and focus on getting more of a balance across these areas. If you don't have diverse talent at the top of the funnel, then you definitely won't have it at the bottom when it comes to making a hire! 

Another thing companies should pay more attention to is the type of language they use. There is a big focus at Amplitude to ensure that we use gender-neutral language and be mindful when writing job descriptions, social media postings etc. 10 years ago, no one was thinking about this; so the thought given around this topic in the last few years is encouraging.   

What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?

My association with the tech world goes back several years, and in my opinion things are different now – in a positive way. There is a lot of information out there. My biggest piece of advice would be to do your homework! Go to websites like ‘Comparably’ to get a better understanding of whether the company has won any awards around culture, working environment or gender/all-inclusivity. Glassdoor is also very useful for an insight into culture. Also, it is basic but – simply reaching out to people at your target company. There is no harm in getting in contact with people and finding out what it's really like to work at a company. 

Attitudes are definitely changing and during my career, the industry has become more open, flexible and encouraging for women to join. For anyone coming into the industry, you should be prepared that it is still very male-dominated. In summary – it is a very rewarding and fun industry to work in – but do your homework, research specific company culture and join an organisation with your eyes open! And be prepared to advocate for yourself. 

Posted by: Talent Box