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Women Pivotal To Driving Change In Narrative in Tech

  • On : March 8, 2023

How Women Are Changing the Story of Tech

In the ever-evolving landscape of the tech industry, the role of women has been a subject of scrutiny and discussion. Despite more women gaining opportunities in capital raise initiatives, the narrative for sole female founders often remains challenging. According to a report by Deloitte, only 24% of computing jobs are held by women, and they are also leaving the tech industry at a 45% higher rate than men. Mellissah Smith, CEO of Robotic Marketer, a marketing technology firm, shares her insights on International Women’s Day, shedding light on the under-representation of women in tech and advocating for a transformative shift in the industry’s narrative.

The Female Tech Entrepreneur’s Perspective

As a female tech entrepreneur and CEO, Mellissah Smith intimately understands the unique challenges faced by sole female founders in the tech industry. She emphasizes the importance of addressing these challenges, stating, “When women are excluded from investment in their tech businesses, we miss out on seeing the full potential of what is possible. Their valuable perspectives and ideas that could drive innovation and growth, are paramount to investors getting return on investments”

In a tech landscape dominated by male-led ventures, the experiences of women founders can be isolating. Smith’s journey reflects the resilience required to navigate these challenges and the necessity for a more inclusive environment. The hurdles she faced highlight broader issues that hinder the progress of women in technology. 

The Missed Opportunity for Positive Change 

Smith believes that investors are missing a big opportunity to create positive change. “The reality is that men are currently more likely to have access to the networks and resources needed to secure funding for their companies,” she said. “By promoting gender diversity in tech company ownership, we can level the playing field and ensure that innovative ideas and talented individuals are not overlooked.”

While the tech industry is making strides toward diversity and inclusion, there’s still a significant gap in funding for women-led startups. Closing this funding gap is not just a matter of equality; it’s a strategic move for the industry to harness a broader spectrum of talent and creativity. 

Going Beyond: Trusting in Women’s Capability

While promoting gender diversity is crucial, Smith pushes for a deeper change in mindset.

“We need to trust that women are as good as men at building tech companies without the need to lean on male co-founders. They can do it alone with the right management team in place.”

“Even when they do show ambition and capability, they are not given a seat at the table in the same way as men.:

“As a female tech founder, I have been astounded mostly at other women investors who want to play with the big boys but proclaim loudly that women sole founders are too risky.”

This call for trust resonates with the broader conversation on women’s capabilities in leadership roles. According to a report by Forbes, more women-led startups became unicorns (companies valued at over $1 billion) in 2019 than in any previous year, reaching a total of 21.

Addressing Challenges: Steps Towards Gender Diversity 

Documented Challenges for Women in Tech

Challenges faced by women in the tech industry are well-documented, including under-representation in leadership positions and various biases. Smith recommends concrete steps to promote gender diversity, such as mentorship programs, flexible work arrangements, and active recruitment of women for leadership roles.

Institutionalized biases have hindered the progress of women in tech. Recognizing and addressing these biases is a fundamental step toward creating an environment where women can thrive and contribute significantly to the industry. Mentorship programs are not just a nicety but a necessity to provide women with the support and guidance needed to navigate a predominantly male industry.

Changing the Narrative

To challenge prevailing stereotypes, Smith emphasizes the need to change the narrative surrounding women in tech. “Too often, women are portrayed as lacking the skills or ambition needed to succeed in the industry, when in reality, they face a variety of biases and obstacles that hold them back.”

Media portrayal plays a significant role in shaping public perception. Shifting the narrative requires highlighting the achievements and capabilities of women in tech, dismantling stereotypes, and showcasing diverse role models. The narrative shift goes beyond rhetoric; it demands a concerted effort from media outlets, industry leaders, and influencers to redefine the image of women in technology.

A Personal Perspective: Breaking Stereotypes

As a female tech founder, Mellissah Smith reveals her astonishment at the attitudes within the investment landscape, particularly among women investors. She observes a paradox where women investors express hesitancy toward women sole founders, deeming them too risky. Smith raises a critical question: “How many men have been given investment with proven track records as sole founders? There are many.”

This paradox illuminates the internalized biases that even women investors may hold. Breaking stereotypes requires a collective effort to reassess the criteria used for evaluating the potential success of startups led by women. It also emphasizes the need for women investors to champion their peers, fostering a supportive ecosystem that recognizes and rewards the entrepreneurial spirit irrespective of gender. 

Empowering Women in Tech: A Collective Responsibility 

Mentorship and Support

Mellissah Smith’s advocacy extends beyond rhetoric; she believes in actionable steps. Encouraging mentorship and support systems becomes crucial. “We need to ensure that women have access to mentors who can guide them through the challenges and provide insights based on experience.”

Mentorship programs play a pivotal role in creating a supportive network for women in tech. Experienced mentors can provide guidance, share industry insights, and help navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship. Establishing formal mentorship initiatives within companies and industry associations can contribute significantly to empowering women, offering them a platform to learn, grow, and navigate the intricacies of the tech landscape.

A Call for Inclusivity

In the pursuit of gender diversity, inclusivity takes centre stage. “Inclusivity is not just a buzzword; it’s a fundamental principle that can reshape the future of the tech industry.”

Creating an inclusive environment involves dismantling barriers, fostering a culture of equality, and actively involving women in decision-making processes. Inclusivity is not just a symbolic gesture. It’s a commitment to restructuring power dynamics and requires ongoing adaptation and learning. When women are also allowed to actively shape decisions, the tech industry benefits from diverse perspectives.