The scarcity of ladies in govt know-how positions. How you can overcome social, cultural and structural boundaries?
Many women in executive positions, like me, have certainly found themselves thinking that they’ve gone further than they could ever imagine. At any hierarchical level, women are still at a disadvantage and minority in the area of Technology. According to a survey carried out by Catho, at the beginning of this year, women have occupied 23.6% of the positions in this sector, and men 76.4%. In 2021, in the same period, the female presence in technology positions represented 21.5% and the male presence 78.5%. Year after year, we have seen small advances, but we are still far from an equity scenario.
Regarding female representation in leadership positions, the scenario is even more challenging. The 2020 CIO Survey by KPMG and Harvey Nash finds that only 11% of global technology leaders are women – no change from the previous edition of the study. In Latin America, the percentage is a little better, 16% of IT leaders are in the hands of women.
Although the ESG agenda has brought organizations greater concern with the gender equity agenda, there is still the challenge of converting the numerical target of female occupations into deeper cultural and structural changes, which involve respect, diversity, inclusion and empowerment. There are many obstacles we face, including:
– Very low female presence since graduation. We live in predominantly male environments. We often hear bad words, sexist jokes and we have to choose between embarrassment or a false fortress. This can be perpetuated for years in the technology career, depending on the medium and the position one decides to adopt.
– There is strong social pressure on women. Despite the advances of society, there is still the mistaken premise that a woman has to choose between being a good mother and wife or pursuing an executive career, as if the two are antagonistic.
There are very few references from women in high technology positions. This makes it very difficult for other women to believe that there is a viable executive career path.
Because humanized leadership is a hallmark of women, it is not uncommon for our technical ability to be questioned. Thus, opportunities tend to stagnate in middle management positions. Women who rise to executive positions sometimes tend to take on more masculine styles of leadership in order to be respected.
According to the study “Impostor Syndrome”, also produced by KPMG in the United States, 75% of the interviewees have already experienced the imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. Many women see professional success as a factor of luck or being in the right place at the right time, rather than their effort and qualifications. Many do not feel qualified to be there and think they are frauds. Women, from the lowest to the highest seniority, may be more likely to have low self-confidence and self-esteem.
These are deep but not insurmountable questions. After twenty years on the road in Technology and more than fifteen in leadership positions, I continue to advance and prepare the way for other women to advance. Some important pieces of advice that make a big difference in my career are:
Don’t stop studying. The market is constantly changing and this always affects men and women. Of all professions. Update your repertoire. All brilliant professionals, from artists, lawyers, doctors and technology professionals need to be constantly updated.
Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. Even when you think you can’t, do it for other women so they never doubt that it’s possible to go beyond.
Never feel guilty for loving your job and wanting to have a family. In working hours, give your all. In the moments you are with the important people in your life, be whole. It is perfectly possible to reconcile various passions and purposes, with organization and discipline.
Don’t give up putting your factory skills at the service of society and the world, through your work. In a predominantly male field, your value will be, in addition to technical knowledge, the ability to inspire and lead great deeds and people. When you allow yourself to be who you are, you can deliver your best and believe me: this will always be your differential.
Establish boundaries and protocols in all relationships. How do you want to communicate? How do you want to be treated? What do you not tolerate? What are your limits? Make them clear. If you don’t, you will surely live in subservience and consequent frustration.
Don’t worry so much about what people think about you. This doesn’t mean not accepting feedback or being unable to recognize your own mistakes, but making decisions based on your values and beliefs, and not on the opinions of others. This is transformative.
May more organizations pave the way for women to evolve, in technology and in all other areas. That cultures be established that value differences, promote respect and equity, combined with affirmative action. This is an environment conducive to the creation of innovative and transformative products, where the customer experience is thought of from all angles, colors and points of view. May all women succeed in their careers and in life. Even if the journey is long and arduous, don’t give up on progress and seek the high places. There is a space that is unique to us in leading organizations and building the future of technology. Forward!
Marina Franco, Vice President of Engineering at Healthtech Theia.
Source: TI Inside