“Only by bringing diversity of thought will we make inclusion inevitable”
Data has different faces. Some say the tech industry gender gap is narrowing as between 2018 and 2020, there was a reported 2.9% increase in female tech employees. Moreover, some predictions say that there should be around three million young women working in technology by the year 2030. But is that enough?
According to Deloitte, women made up 32.2% of employees in large tech companies in 2021. Yet an Accenture research points out that in spite of the efforts made encouraging girls and women to pursue technology careers, the gender imbalance is greater than it was 35 years ago. In the end, fewer than 1 out of 5 CIOs or CTOs are women in the largest 1,000 companies.
So, what’s really happening? And above all, what are the strategies organizations can apply to drive change? This a topic that is close to Siemens AG IoT Strategic Marketing Bettina Rotermund’s heart. “A lot is happening right now in the tech and innovation space though this is not yet reflected in the statistics”, she acknowledges. “I have definitely noticed the gender imbalance since entering the profession”, agrees Dasha Díaz, Founder of Itrainsec.
PROMOTING AN INCLUSIVE CULTURE
Both are involved in IOTSWC22. Rotermund will discuss gender barriers at the Women & Diversity in Industry and Technology session. Díaz is part of the organization team at the Barcelona Cybersecurity Congress to be held within the IOT Solutions World Congress and has set up various sessions on the gender gap, such as the one devoted to Hacking Gender Barriers.
The topic is large and encompasses an inclusive culture, which is vital not only to keep women in technology but also to foster development and growth. Research has found that an innovative mindset is six times more prevalent in most-equal cultures as compared to the least-equal ones. Marc Rocas, Organizational behavior professor and Consultant from Barcelona, echoes that sentiment and stresses that gender equality policy in Germany, which states that women and men are equal, as well as Iceland’s current legislation on equal status and equal rights are of great interest in this sense. So, “things are better now but still far short of the target”, he puts.
“At Siemens we have gender parity in supporting functions on individual contributor level already today, while we strive to better reflect the market in STEM focused business functions. This is where we are relentlessly working on to improve the current status quo with dedicated programs and initiatives, as we cannot be satisfied with the situation as it is today”, says Bettina.
Rotermund. In this light, she mentions Siemens’ Take the Girl’s Days initiative, where girls at school get the opportunity to look behind the curtains of a tech company like Siemens to get a glimpse of the broad-spectrum opportunities lying ahead of them in the technology field, all the way up to a global Gender Equity Program to address structural imbalances globally. Moreover, she underlines that Siemens’ commitment is also anchored in a sustainability framework, named DEGREE, aspiring to have 30% women in Top Management globally in 2025.
Therefore, there appears to have been an improvement and there is hope. “As a member of the Grow-To-Glow network, an initiative from women for young women in Siemens, I see young female talents rising up every single day – and surely it is not always easy for them in an environment that is dominated by men. At the same time, I see the network of courage that comes in, revealing ways how to master these challenges. And with network I also mean our strong male allies in the He-for-She initiative”, to accelerate progress towards gender equality, Rotermund explains.
CHANGE IS INEVITABLE
However, it certainly takes time to see all those efforts transforming into numbers. And numbers only tell one part of the story. For Dasha Díaz, who’s been working almost 14 years with the top cybersecurity experts, “the biggest challenge is a mindset that makes women doubt themselves.” “As an international cybersecurity conference producer, I have received thousand of messages from women asking whether they should submit their proposals. The reasons behind this were either shyness, lack of confidence or the feeling their work was not worthy”, she points out.
This is what some experts name “the imposter syndrome”, which is loosely defined as doubting one’s abilities and feeling like a fraud. Oddly enough, It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments.
Organizations supporting women in cyber and showing that opportunities are there for all kind of professionals surely can help. Yet companies need to realize that the more diverse is a team, the better. As Relay’s CEO Jessica Poliner, who will also participate in the IOTSWC, says: “Only by bringing diversity of thought will we make inclusion inevitable.” In the same vein, Bettina Rotermund states: “As a realistic optimist I know the needed change will come. It is inevitable.” The responsibility that this change is driven for better results is only ours.
By Anna Solana