Thursday, 10 March 2022 13:38

International Women's Day 2022 - #BreakTheBias - comments from Australian and global tech leaders Featured


To celebrate International Women's Day, iTWire has received 45 submissions from top Australian and global tech leaders, celebrating women's achievement, raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality.

At the International Women's Day site, the theme for 2022 is #BreakTheBias, which follows on from last year's theme of #ChooseToChallenge, which iTWire covered extensively in 2021 here and in several more articles, here.

For 2022, the International Women's Day site says:

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.

My questions were simple:

  • What commentary would Australia's IT tech leaders, women and men, like to say to iTWire readers about the day?
  • What are their comments on this year's theme, women's equality and opportunity, leadership in IT and life?
  • What should women, men, companies and organisations be doing to further women's equality and to #BreakTheBias, and anything else?

Here’s the list of respondents, in alphabetical order, with the comments below thereafter.

1. Alexis Rouch, Chief Technology Officer, Class Ltd

2. Anita LeMaire, Managing Director, Banking and Payments, FIS

3. Andrew Belger, Regional Sales Director at Brightcove

4. Angelina Liu, Territory Account Executive – ANZ, Barracuda

5. Asha Potla, Director of Product and Development, Soprano

6. Belinda Jurisic, Vice President Channel, Cloud and Service Provider Strategy & Management, Veeam

7. Bree Timms, Quality Specialist, ActiveCampaign.

8. Carolyn Crandall, Chief Marketing Officer, Attivo Networks

9. Dora Peake, General Manager People and Culture at Versent

10. Elena Chan, Chief Risk Officer and General Counsel, Beforepay.

11. Emad Afghani, Vice President Sales, ANZ, TeamViewer

12. Emma Harvie, Manger, Client Services for Achievers in APAC. 

13. Gordana Redzovski, Vice President, Retail APAC at Lightspeed.

14. Halin Hormozi, Director of Sales ANZ, Procore.

15. Helen Masters, Executive VP and GM International Sales at Ivanti

16. Helena Softley, Senior Sales Manager at WP Engine.

17. Hope Powers, Vice President ANZ, Dynatrace.

18. Jo-Anne Ruhl, Senior Regional Director, Workday Australia and New Zealand.

19. Joanne Wong, Vice President, International Markets, LogRhythm

20. Julia Szatar, Head of Product Marketing at Loom.

21. Katie Kulikoski, Chief People Officer, Progress.

22. Lamia Lee, Executive Director, ANZ – Commercial, Customer Success and Project Management at Lucid.

23. Lesley Smith, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, Access4.

24. Lorraine Costello, Senior Director, Customer First APAC at Okta.

25. Lyra MacKay, Evangelist at Zoho.

26. Margaux Liquard, Head of Safety Operation at Yubo.

27. Melanie Cochrane, Group Managing Director, Equifax Australia and New Zealand.

28. Melissa Antoine, Senior Success Manager, ANZ, Jamf.

29. Nadine Lafleur, Senior Marketing Manager – ANZ, Talend.

30. Nicola Ayan, Director of Technology and Growth at Optimizely.

31. Padmini Vundavalli, Senior Vice President - Quality, MetricStream.

32. Paula Kilby, Talent Acquisition Manager at Cyara.

33. Peggy de Lange, VP of International Expansion, Fiverr.

34. Revital Kremer, Chief Technology Officer, SupPlant

35. Robin Stimac, Chief Product Officer at Templafy.

36. Samantha Lear, Information Technology Team Lead, Verizon.

37. Sash Vasilevski, Principal, Security Centric

38. Shantell Williams, Chief Technology Officer, Tic:Toc.

39. Sianne Chen, Marketing Manager APAC, Fastly

40. Sofia Merida, Pre-Sales Engineer, Zscaler

41. Tamara Oppen, Managing Director at GoDaddy Australia.

42. Tanya Hovagimian, ANZ Channel Manager, ExtraHop

43. Tiru Ingrid Anzola, Head of Data Platform, at Shippit.

44. Trisha Trainor, Engineer Manager at Dovetail Studios.

45. Wei Wei Kho, Inside Sales Leader, Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group AP


1. Alexis Rouch, Chief Technology Officer, Class Ltd:

There’s so much to like about diverse workforces: they’re more creative and innovative and they represent the customer base far better than teams in which everyone looks and thinks the same way. Breaking the bias – the theme of International Women’s Day 2022 – means finding ways to help under-represented groups to secure their seats at the table.

In the ICT sector, women remain one of those under-represented groups: they made up 44 per cent of the professional industries workforce but held only 16 per cent of ICT trades roles, according to the Statista 2020 study*. One of the ways we can change those numbers is not just by welcoming women in, but by welcoming them back in.

I work for a fast growing vendor that’s at the start of our journey with this strategy. We’ve begun partnering with STEM Returners, a far sighted, eminently sensible, multi-award winning program to shepherd and support workers who’ve had an extended career break back into the workforce. Not surprisingly, many of them are women. Yes, their skills may be years out of date but very often the biggest thing holding them back is confidence, or lack thereof. Twelve-week paid internships provide these women with the opportunity to brush up on what they’ve missed, get some current experience on their CVs and be reminded that they still have what it takes to survive and thrive in our exciting, fast moving industry.

It’s good for them and can be good for your organisation too, if it nets you a potential new employee who’s engaged, appreciative and eager to get back into the swing. I encourage every ICT leader looking for practical, real world ways to break the bias this year to consider getting on board.

2. Anita LeMaire, Managing Director, Banking and Payments, FIS

There are certainly considerations and challenges for women (or quite frankly anyone) who want to pursue leadership positions, especially if they are juggling other responsibilities such as family outside of work. #BreakTheBias is an incredibly inspiring theme and so important in the fintech industry. We need to make sure there is an environment where we are fostering the mentorship of women to support those wanting to step into leadership roles – bringing out the skills they already possess and nurturing them into the positions that they are more than qualified for.

There are so many ways to #BreakTheBias and tackle equality in the workplace. For me, I have always see the value of mentorship. Mentoring is a great way to build confidence, provide encouragement, empathy and advice for aspiring employees. It can be daunting for those moving into roles traditionally dominated by the opposite sex. A simple step for any organisation, company or individual can be to set up a support network. In addition, don’t be afraid to change the model.

Sometimes we try to do things the way that they have always been done and 9 to 5 is a great example of that! If you think a different schedule would work better, then don’t be afraid to make or implement these types of suggestions. Some women feel like that don’t want to cause complexity, but in reality these suggestions could be easily supported.

Lastly, take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn! It is not about focusing too much on one area or idea, but rather broadening your skill set and bringing an extended view to your workplace and life. Take roles in different areas and pull that learning all together – this way you will be to provide more value to your roles with this range of experience and knowledge and that makes you really valuable. And if you are interested in a career in fintech then explore opportunities with FIS, we are hiring!

3. Andrew Belger, Regional Sales Director at Brightcove:

At Brightcove, we’re passionate about giving women the equal opportunity to thrive in a tech career, both globally and in Australia. It’s a conscious decision by the company to #BreakTheBias, and is clearly reflected from the very top with Board of Directors – a group that is made up of a majority of women, led by our Chairperson, Deb Besemer.

The Leadership Team of Brightcove has four women and five men, who are the leaders for product, marketing, people and customer success for the company. We also have initiatives like Women in Brightcove which empowers and supports through hands on career development, inspiring speakers, and opportunities for colleagues to connect across functional teams and organisational levels.

We’ve created and fostered an environment of amplifying each other’s voices to foster inclusivity and to support each other in achieving our goals. Externally, we’ve been strongly supportive of encouraging women to join the industry through panel discussions on careers in tech for women.

Brightcove strongly believes in the need to ensure equitable opportunities for all, across all companies and industries, and we continue to strive to #BreakTheBias.

4. Angelina Liu, Territory Account Executive – ANZ, Barracuda:

When I was a child, my parents frequently invoked the well known proverb, ‘charity begins at home’. As a woman working in the male dominated ICT industry, I believe the same principle applies when it comes to ‘breaking the bias’ – taking positive action to ensure women and other minority groups have every opportunity to contribute and succeed. Only after examining our own thinking and behaviours can we expect others to do likewise and change theirs.

This lesson was hammered home to me a couple of years ago, while working on a multi-vendor ICT assignment. I spent a week on our client’s site, cooperating closely with a whip smart woman from another organisation, with whom I quickly struck up an excellent rapport. We’d introduced ourselves to each another at the outset but not discussed our respective roles and job titles. At the end of the week, we’d had success with the project and I asked her to point me towards the project engineer so I could hand over the service keys. At that point, my newfound co-worker revealed that she was, in fact, that person, not the technical sales rep I’d assumed her to be. Mea culpa!

Until that incident occurred, I’d prided myself on being someone who was open minded and operated without bias. It was a great reminder to me that that wasn’t necessarily the case. Our upbringing, experiences, conditioning and the media shape our thoughts and responses, subconsciously and unconsciously, and just because we’ve become more careful about not saying things that may reveal our prejudices, doesn’t mean we’re not still thinking them. These days, I work harder at putting up a ‘barrier’ in my brain, between those engrained assumptions and my conscious thoughts and behaviour, because I’ve learnt that I need to be the change I want to see.

5. Asha Potla, Director of Product and Development, Soprano:

It’s always so heart-warming to see the tech community celebrate International Women’s Day and all of the hard-working women in our industry. So, this year, I’m viewing the theme of ‘break the bias’ through the lens of what positive things happened for women due to Covid and how that has contributed to breaking down some biases.

While the last two years have been difficult for everyone, they demonstrated just how capable we all are of productively working from home. This has had tremendous benefits for women in terms of flexibility, and as a result, we’ve proven to the entire tech industry that we can balance work and family commitments.

As a tech leader and working mother, I know too well how important it is to provide women a supportive environment that allows them to express their opinions and ideas constructively—this is the key to opening more doors to leadership for women. While it may not be so obvious in developed countries, women empowerment in developing countries around the world is critical to society’s progress.

6. Belinda Jurisic, Vice President Channel, Cloud and Service Provider Strategy & Management, Veeam:

This year’s theme Break the Bias is important and timely because it’s time to speak up. Really speak up. It’s about finding opportunities to use your voice to affect change. We can all do this. You may not get it right every time, but you will learn every time you speak up. And then, when you start to see things changing because of what you’ve said, embrace it and own what you’ve asked for.

International Women’s Day is a reminder to celebrate the role women play in industry and to support and learn from each other. There are markets I work in that I can be myself and then there are some where I have faced criticism based on my approach. Often these are criticisms that a man wouldn’t face in the same situation. And so, as a woman you must have strength to stand your ground. There is a quote that I love, which is, ‘don't try to be a man, it's a waste of a good woman’. We were chosen for a reason, to bring that diversity of thought and our unique strengths to the table.

Overall, I don’t think we have enough women in the IT industry. There is no distinct education path to many of the jobs in this industry, and there is a long way to go in promoting the different types of roles that exist and encouraging more women to explore IT as a career.

It’s important to highlight the importance of a support network at both home and work. I am a firm believer that those in more senior positions have a supportive partner or extra support in home life to enable them to focus on their career. 

7. Bree Timms, Quality Specialist, ActiveCampaign:

The gender disparity that exists within the IT sector remains significant, however there are some clear steps that can be taken to help remedy the situation. Together, they would encourage more women to accept roles and help them build long-term, satisfying career paths.

The steps include reviewing maternity provisions, removing any pay disparity in the workplace, and encouraging mentoring.

From a wider perspective, we also need to get the message across to school-aged girls that technology is a career that is well worth considering. Involving successful women working in the sector would be a good way to achieve this.

8. Carolyn Crandall, Chief Marketing Officer, Attivo Networks: 

Celebrating progress: Creating a welcoming environment for women in ICT in the 2020s

While there’s still work to be done, the times have changed and very much for the better, writes Attivo Networks CMO, Carolyn Crandall.

It’s no great secret that women are under-represented in the high-tech sector. According to one study, in 2020, they comprised 44 percent of the ICT professional industries workforce in Australia but occupied just 16 percent of ICT trades positions,.

‘Breaking the bias’ is the admirable and apposite theme for International Women’s Day 2022, and it’s true there is plenty that organisations can do to encourage more of us to pursue meaningful, lifelong careers in the space.

That includes creating a welcoming workplace culture, genuinely encouraging diversity, and providing the flexible working conditions that make it possible for women with children and other caring commitments to continue contributing.

But while it’s important to focus on the future, I believe it’s also instructive to reflect on the past and the significant improvements over the last three decades.

Better days

Diversity and inclusion initiatives have begun to bear fruit; so much so that the team I lead in my role as chief security advocate at Attivo Networks is now 90 per cent female. No, we’re not practising reverse discrimination. Rather, I believe, we’ve succeeded in creating an attractive environment for women; one in which they can see there is equal opportunity for them to build their capabilities on the job and create bright futures for themselves.

Yes, there’s work to be done, to encourage and support more young women to enter the STEM sphere, but, 30 years after I did so, it’s heartening to see how far we’ve come.

Making a difference

Meanwhile, I’ve always believed one of the best things women can do to advance our cause is to take an ‘assumed is’ approach to the world. By this, I mean operating with the assumption that equality already exists – and the onus is on organisations to disprove it.

Doing so injected some quiet swagger into the way women like myself walked, talked and approached our career advancement, back in the day. Long before Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg publicised the concept of ‘leaning in’ – taking the lead and pushing yourself forward in the workforce – we were doing exactly that: telling ourselves, ‘of course I can’.

Believing can be half the battle and, this International Women’s Day, I’d like to encourage today’s cohort of women in ICT to continue doing exactly that.

9. Dora Peake, General Manager People and Culture at Versent:

Do you think gender bias still exists in the industry? And to what extent does it exist?

Gender bias is an unconscious bias for most people. It takes meaningful and deliberate effort and action to continue raising awareness as to what bias is, and what traditional gender bias exists, in order for communities and professionals to overcome bias. We still see an underrepresentation of women in our sector (technology). Increasing the visibility of women, and championing their contributions, within technology is key. Most of us are in tune to the advantages of diversity of thought, and by affording women the opportunity of making meaningful achievements in technology, we can turn the page in challenging traditional beliefs as to what success looks like in an inclusive and progressive context.

What do you think the industry needs to do to address gender bias?

Addressing gender bias is no easy feat, considering bias originates from each of our taught and learned values and experiences. I believe that overcoming gender bias will be rooted in affirmative action. Action that is taken decisively, with courage and commitment, that tackles systemic bias and behaviours which promote less inclusive workplaces. Action without genuine broad support or education that speaks to the heart of the issue may leave some lacking personal connection to why inclusion is important to them.

Our approach at Versent is to start a movement that will signal our intent to break the cycle of gender bias and afford our female talent platforms to truly shine. Firstly we must define the meaning of what action we need to take, then create the movement of people and support actions at the grass roots. Then we will be able to create the momentum to influence upwards to create moments that matter for our diverse group of people.

10. Elena Chan, Chief Risk Officer and General Counsel, Beforepay

Q. What commentary would Australia’s IT tech leaders, women and men, like to say to iTWire readers about the day?

A. Every year on International Women’s Day, I like to reflect on the things we have achieved and the things I want to see changed, as well as what we can do to accelerate gender equality in the IT industry. No doubt, we’ve made great strides to encourage more girls and women in STEM, but there is much more to do. The gender diversity figures in the tech industry are telling and IWD brings to the forefront the things that make it difficult for women to, for example, get that tech job because they don’t have a computer science degree, or to progress their career whilst wanting to start a family. On IWD, let’s get our thinking caps on and do something about it!

Q. What commentary would they like to provide about this year’s theme (#BreaktheBias) women’s equality and opportunity, leadership in IT and life?

A. First, to #breakthebias and strive for a more inclusive and fairer workplace, I’d like to acknowledge that gender isn’t necessarily binary. My leadership path has been supported by great female and male mentors; colleagues who were generous with their time and taught me the difference between Kimball vs Inmon (read: data geek), and my husband, who bears equal if not more responsibility at home and with the kids. I’m also part of online communities such as Lawyer Mums and Women in Tech, alongside like-minded women who can find the humour in a day’s struggle with me. I’m very grateful for the support in its aggregate.

One simply can’t underestimate the importance of the support network women need. I’d like to urge iTWire readers to be that strong person that women can lean on, learn from, be inspired by and collaborate with.

What should women, men, companies and organisations be doing to further women’s equality and to #BreakTheBias?

A. I think about women’s equality as a present and future challenge for the IT industry.

For the present, there is a meaningful shortage of talent in female talent in the technology and data industry in Australia. The reality is, there’s a lot to love about working in tech (other than unlimited snacks, beer taps and Nintendo games in the office). Making incremental changes in our workplace – from the breakout areas being inclusive of all genders, to hiring for attitude and potential not just technical, to helping women in your company develop technical and leadership skills to become, say a data analyst or program manager. These incremental changes will help Australia build a more inclusive IT industry and are the things that we are thinking about at Beforepay.

For the future, I’m keen for us to teach our children, especially daughters, to understand and love STEM. My 9-year-old daughter, the competitive gymnast that is a lover of hairstyling YouTube videos is enamoured by Science. STEM is her favourite subject at school (probably thanks to slime). Building this passion into school syllabus and making technology-driven learning accessible, fun and relevant for kids, will help #breakthebias so that the IT industry will be more equal into the future.

Another bias to break is that the tech industry is limited to technologists. You can be involved by being a great HR manager, marketing guru or risk professional, with a passion for what we do in tech.

11. Emad Afghani, Vice President Sales, ANZ, TeamViewer:

Here at TeamViewer in Australia, 55% per cent of our leadership team is female and 49% of our staff base is female. When we seek new employees, we recruit based on the best fit for the role at hand and the experiences and skills which a new team member can bring to the company.

We’ve rapidly grown our footprint in Australia and are proud of having an inclusive workplace that is welcoming and accepting of people’s differences. Diversity is one of TeamViewer’s core values and we want everyone to feel appreciated and valued regardless of their background, gender, ethnicity, experience or age. Such a workplace also engenders the cross pollination of ideas as people become exposed to new perspectives and ways of thinking.

In the tech sector, women still trail their male counterparts in terms of pay, leadership roles and representation. As an industry, we need to break the bias by changing education, access, visibility, and support for females in the IT sector. TeamViewer partners with universities, schools and organisations to help shape education to make a career in tech more accessible and appealing for females. At our Australian office, equal representation is already at a good stage but as a global company, TeamViewer seeks to increase female management participation across all levels at all locations worldwide. We are committed to provide a diverse working environment free of discrimination, harassment or any form of inequality.

12. Emma Harvie, Manger, Client Services for Achievers in APAC: 

She is a leader for the Achievers DE&I committee where the vision is to create and sustain a global environment of inclusion, acceptance, and belonging where all feel safe, welcome, and have a voice. She is also a member of the Achievers Women's Network.

What commentary would Australia's IT tech leaders, women and men, like to say to iTWire readers about the day, this year's theme, women's equality and opportunity, leadership in IT and life, what women, men, companies and organisations should be doing to further women's equality and to #BreakTheBias, and anything else?

In order to #BreakThe Bias, I would like to see more training and education for men as allies, and for all leaders. Many people who aspire to be allies find it challenging, and are open to playing a bigger role. If we can empower more men to disrupt systemic sexism and to speak up more often, we have the potential to make a bigger difference, much faster.

Any bias in the merit process needs to be addressed, and for this to happen, leaders need to be upskilled. While HR can support and guide, ultimately leaders are responsible for assessing the performance of their direct reports. They need to take into account years of experience, target attainment, contribution to the business, and skills and capabilities to meet future goals. Leaders need to advocate for their team members, with clear measurements, to close the gender pay gap.

Where industry and government bodies can support, is the reporting and transparency around gender pay gap, with accountability to creating and delivering on action plans. Advertising salaries in job advertisements would be a great start to improve transparency, and force organisations to close the gap.

13. Gordana Redzovski, Vice President, Retail APAC at Lightspeed

Actively calling out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping in our community, schools and workplaces is incredibly challenging and confronting. For most of my life I’ve experienced it first hand; as a woman in sales, as the daughter of migrant parents, as a working mother - I’ve been breaking the bias for as long as I can remember. What motivates me to keep going is all the incredible support I have received from allies along the way who have shined a light on pathways and opportunities that seemed simply unattainable from my view at the time. I’m passionate about giving back and supporting others on their journey.

At Lightspeed we are committed to creating spaces so everyone can feel like they belong–especially those that have been historically marginalised. One way we hope to promote inclusion and belonging is with the launch of Lightspeed’s first Employee-led Networks (ELNs).

ELNs are a safe space for those with shared identities to come together and build community. Allies are also welcome to join these groups to listen, be engaged and learn. Allies can be individuals who don’t identify as part of the identity group but want to learn and support. Some examples of activities that an Employee Led Network may engage in include book clubs, focus groups, events, panel discussions, mentoring circles.

I’m very proud to join some inspiring women at Lightspeed for our upcoming International Women's Day roundtable as we continue to work towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive world that celebrates and values diversity.

14. Halin Hormozi, Director of Sales ANZ, Procore

“This year's theme of breaking the bias is so pertinent because, as much as we’ve transformed how women are treated at work in recent years, there’s still a huge way to go. Being in the construction tech industry, women are fighting two battles. We’re combining two industries that are typically male dominated and where women are usually under appreciated.

Often as a female leader in IT, I have been overlooked and ignored in external meetings. Men have overpowered and made assumptions about my ability in the industry, when I have proved myself capable of leading highly successful teams. I love what I do, and I love encouraging and mentoring women across all parts of the business to ensure they feel supported to achieve their goals.

At Procore, we recently onboarded our first female solutions engineer, and the positivity we have received from clients has been great. We hope this encourages and inspires other women to not shy away from great opportunities just because it’s previously been seen as a male role.

The way of working is changing and organisations need to show they value every single member of staff. Introducing condensed working weeks for new working mums and prioritising diversity in recruitment are just a couple of simple examples of how we can maintain and grow the female voice in IT. Improving diversity in one area also encourages change across other parts of the business, and I’m excited to see growth in these areas develop over the year ahead.”

15. Helen Masters, Executive VP and GM International Sales at Ivanti:

As more and more young people embark on their professional career paths, the tech industry needs to prioritise its female staff for top-level roles. This will serve to inspire and motivate younger women as they make life changing decisions such as picking A-levels, university degrees, apprenticeships, and eventually initial graduate jobs - ultimately, this has a knock-on effect.

Recent studies show that girls tend to choose a career with more women in leadership roles. This is because they feel like they have a better chance of growing and progressing within an organisation that they see themself reflected in – and with tech already being a heavily male dominated environment, people in positions such as mine need to be more visible. This will be the key to inspiring the next generation and creating a more inclusive and diverse future.

Tech is the future: A future where every product we own is connected, smart, and responsive. A future where we're able to delegate mundane work to algorithms in machines. There should be more women in technology because it's imperative that we have a voice in what the future looks like. The number of IT jobs is going to grow by another 24% by 2024, and we have a largely untapped talent pool we could benefit from if we help them see a future in our industry. During this time, there'll be more jobs than IT graduates, which creates an outrageous demand for talent – even more outrageous than we are seeing today. We need to get ahead of the game and take the necessary steps now so we can welcome the future generation in equal environment and pave the way for their future.

The reality is gender equality remains a major issue in the corporate world. Women remain significantly underrepresented in the corporate pipeline. Even if we haven't seen as much progress as we’d like over recent years, I remain an optimist. In the new world created by the pandemic, we are on an irresistible path to a different society. Appreciation of the importance of inclusion is growing, and tech must reflect this. We don’t want to be having the same conversation about this every year – and I believe that, if every one of us plays a positive part, in the years to come we won’t be.

16. Helena Softley, Senior Sales Manager at WP Engine:

This year's theme is fantastic as it helps raise a greater awareness of the struggles that women and those who identify as women, face every day, on a global scale. All of us are guilty of having unconscious bias and I would love to see a world where individuals have the courage to acknowledge that and call out these inequalities. People need to feel safe that their opinions and experiences will be met with empathy. I think that is something we all need to work on.

We have a long way to go towards equality. Women need to support women while also holding them accountable in the workplace. Equality is all about having a voice and being able to share your opinion without fear of judgement. We're not all perfect and women should be able to express an opinion against another woman, without it being an attack.

The same goes for men. Male leaders should be able to provide feedback on women’s performance and not feel scared of repercussions. Nevertheless, increased empathy for women must come into play. There needs to be a deeper understanding of the strength it takes for a woman to excel in her career, especially in a male dominated industry such as IT.

What women are saying this International Women's Day might make you uncomfortable, but by taking what we are saying onboard, workplaces will stand a real chance of making a difference. I really encourage everyone today to listen to the stories of women, and believe them.

17. Hope Powers, Vice President ANZ, Dynatrace:

There are gender disparities to be found in many industry sectors, but perhaps none are more glaring than the IT industry.

From its early days in the 1960s, IT has been dominated by men. They have traditionally represented the vast majority of university students, and they tend to dominate throughout their careers in technology.

Fast forward to 2022 and, while things have improved to some extent, there remains much to be done to overcome this challenge. Companies need to become better at attracting new talent and ensuring that younger staff have a clear career roadmap.

There is also a role for government which needs to focus on two key issues. They are growing STEM education in schools and having the right settings for encouraging skilled migration.

18. Jo-Anne Ruhl, Senior Regional Director, Workday Australia and New Zealand:

This year's theme, #BreakTheBias, should be seen as a call to action for all businesses to take stock and review their policies on inclusion. Are they focused on creating an inclusive workplace? Do they have a strategy focused on belonging and diversity? How are they contributing to ensure we have a world free of bias? Do they have the technology in place to make the right decisions?

At Workday, we commit to creating a world where diversity is embraced and believe that we can help to create a more inclusive world with our technology. We fully support and endorse a world free of bias, and our products are helping organisations worldwide strive for greater equity in the workplace.

I'm humbled and inspired to be working within an organisation that embraces each individual and is focused on creating an environment where people can bring their best selves to work. In terms of bias and equality, Workday has always been committed to building a fair and equitable workplace, focusing on women in leadership roles and pay parity. Our Chief People Officer Ashley Goldsmith and her team conduct annual company-wide gender pay analysis to ensure fair and equal pay between men and women in the same role. Our annual reviews consistently reveal no disparities for greater than 99% of our global population.

There is no better time than now to act and address inequality, bias, and discrimination, because sadly the pandemic has increased inequalities between men and women. A recent Deloitte report, Women@Work, highlights that many women have taken on additional responsibilities at home and work, and this burden disproportionately impacts women. It is causing many to leave the workforce. We know from our Workday surveys that businesses that give women the support they need to succeed have a more productive, motivated workforce – and are likely to report greater retention. 

What can / should the industry be doing?

The technology sector must continue to promote, encourage and develop female talent. We must enable women to move into the technology industry at all levels to drive change.

This is something we are also working on internally at Workday over time. In FY21, 34 percent of Workday leadership positions are currently held by women along with 38 percent of our global population of women in tech roles, and women hold 41 percent of Workday management positions. Our overall global gender representation continues to trend upward for women in leadership and management positions. This is 10 percent higher than many of our tech peers, and puts Workday at the 75th percentile of comparable tech companies. To help improve, we’ve created development programs and continue to redefine and build our talent strategies in attracting great leaders.

As part of our Employee Belonging Councils (EBCs), Workday also runs Women @ Workday. This employee led group focuses on fostering connections among participants and supporting them in their professional growth and everyday lives.

For the IT industry, as mentioned, pay parity is also essential. Every organisation must show that regardless of gender, people are being salaried, bonused, and rewarded in the same way. Pay parity is critical as we work to close the gender pay gap, which is a crucial indicator of bias.

The technology is already available to help remove bias in the workplace, so there are no excuses for businesses not acting.

Workday's enterprise management cloud provides business leaders with insights into workforce data. Workday dashboards provide information such as diversity and pay equity so businesses can see where they stand and where change is needed. Workday's VIBE Index enables businesses to measure everything from hiring and promotions to your people's sense of belonging—so you can see where you stand and then take action. With Workday, businesses can also strive to remove bias from the hiring and recruiting process, through to succession planning and leadership development.

At Workday, we strive to make the world of work and business better, free of bias and inclusive for all, but the whole industry needs to get on board to drive real and lasting change.

19. Joanne Wong, Vice President, International Markets, LogRhythm:

International Women’s Day is always a good opportunity for us to celebrate the progress we have made in narrowing the gender gap, and continue the discussion on how we can do better.

The significant strides made – especially in the IT industry, which traditionally skews young and male – must be acknowledged.

Positive changes are certainly underway, with businesses increasingly making diversity and inclusion central to their operations and management strategies. Many are stepping up efforts to empower women to excel in the workplace – including strengthening the learning and development pipeline within their companies. Just as importantly, beyond the workplace, many organisations are also investing in developing young girls’ interest in STEM-related fields, and nurturing tomorrow’s talent. Promisingly, there is growing recognition that one-off initiatives will not suffice in truly breaking biases and creating equal opportunities – businesses must instead commit to a cultural shift in the long-haul to effect lasting change.

However, we still have a way to go in terms of achieving true gender parity –, where women are presented with equal footing to succeed and not just participate in male-dominated industries. The reality today is that After all, only 6.7% of board chairs in Australia are female.

The truth of the matter is that the path to gender parity is a responsibility that cannot be borne on the shoulders of women alone. I am hopeful that we will continue to see greater collaboration between not just the genders but businesses and regulators as well, in addressing long-standing impediments to furthering women’s equality.

20. Julia Szatar, Head of Product Marketing at Loom:

International Women’s Day reminds us that we still need to be proactive and thoughtful about female leadership in the workplace. It’s a great time to stop and reflect on how far we’ve come, and consider what we need to do to get true equality in the workplace.

In 2022, the things that still need to evolve are more nuanced than before. Of course, women have the skills to lead and have what it takes to succeed in the workplace. Of course, having women in leadership roles brings a more diverse perspective. But how do we get more women to believe we can lead, feel that we deserve to lead, find the confidence to lead? How can we encourage more women to take the risk to lead!

Even though tech looks to the future in general, we’re often stuck thinking that there is only one leadership style – loud, assertive, swift, and decisive. Break the Bias is a great reinforcer showing that there are other thoughtful voices in the room, that may not be as loud, that may speak differently and may think differently. Or if they are loud and female, that’s ok too.

Organisations should talk less and act more to further equality. To me, it’s all about backing women and building their confidence. If you’re a woman (or man) in leadership, make sure you are noticing the women on your team and across the organisation and giving them visibility early in their careers. Call on women in the meeting to answer a question, give women the opportunity to speak at an event, to be the face of a product launch, to present internally, to tackle a challenging project. Find other, creative ways, to give women visibility and build conviction in their actions. If you find yourself reacting to a certain leadership style, e.g. she’s too loud, she’s not assertive enough – check yourself. I’m also a big believer in promoting people just before they are “there” or “ready”. Give women permission to step up and build confidence, particularly early in their careers.

21. Katie Kulikoski, Chief People Officer, Progress:

Five words. Every time I think about women in this world, whether we’re talking about advancing women in STEM, global human rights, or battling deeply embedded cultural biases, five words come to mind: So Much More To Do.

Every time I even begin to celebrate how far we have come, the gap we’ve begun to close, the advancement in opportunities – I remind myself to keep my eyes forward and focused on what is left. So much more to do.

22. Lamia Lee, Executive Director, ANZ – Commercial, Customer Success and Project Management at Lucid:

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we are once again reminded that while we have made inroads in the workplace to making it a more balanced one in terms of gender diversity, much more needs to be done in supporting women in the work environment.

This can be in the form of organisations providing more flexible arrangements for mothers re-entering the workforce and offering dads and partners more paternity leave to support their spouses. Governments can also help with childcare subsidies as we know many times the high cost of childcare is a barrier to many mothers returning to work.

The pandemic highlighted how many women and mothers still carried the main burden of working, taking care of their household and children and home schooling. While this juggling act was difficult for many mothers, what it has shown us is that there is scope for organisations to move to a more flexible mode of working which can significantly help mothers in having a more equitable work-life balance.

There should also be greater support and emphasis to see more women take more leadership positions at technology companies. The tech industry is still very much male-dominated and more needs to be done to change this. STEM education for girls should be introduced at primary and secondary schools so that we can nurture a love of science and technology and lead to careers in this field.

Women are great communicators and collaborators, not to mention have a good eye to detail and the big picture. These soft skills that women bring to organisation can tremendously boost workplace success. Is it not then time that we ensure we build more inclusive workplaces for our female employees?”

23. Lesley Smith, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, Access4:

Baby come back: why the ICT industry needs to do more to support women with children

Making it easier for mothers to balance careers and family life would do much to dispel the high tech sector’s significant gender imbalance and enable women to fulfil their true potential, says Lesley Smith, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, Access4.

Having a baby: for most women, it’s the best of times and the most stressful of times. Becoming a parent is exciting, overwhelming and exhausting, as you come to grips with your new ‘job’ looking after the most important little human in the world – your own.

It can also be a time when many women worry about their other job: how they’ll manage the juggle if they head back to the office after a few months of maternity leave, and whether their career will ever recover if they don’t.

Family first, or last?

It’s a conundrum I’ve seen hard working, ambitious women grapple with, both in the legal profession where I spent my early career years and in the ICT sector, where I now work as a senior leader for Access4, a unified communications solution vendor in the managed services provider space.

Sadly, I’ve also observed many women postpone their plans to start a family because of these concerns, or cut short their maternity breaks because they’re concerned they’ll be stuck in the slow lane in their critical earning years, if they don’t hurry back to the office.

Given the fact that, for better or worse, responsibility for child rearing continues to sit predominately with women (although, yes, this is changing and props to the many dads out there who’ve stepped up to share the heavy lifting in recent years!), it’s an area where ICT companies that are serious about evening up the gender imbalance could, and should, step up to support their female employees.

Prioritising parenthood and professional work

How can they do so? I can think of several ways. Offering equal paternity leave opportunities for male employees would be a great start. Encouraging more men to take their turn during those vital early months doesn’t just allow them to experience the challenges and rewards of caring for, and bonding with, their infant children. It can also result in increased empathy and appreciation for women who are juggling parental responsibilities with part-time or full-time work.

We also need to think about how we can help women stay up to date with industry events and developments while they’re on maternity leave. Part of the attraction of working in ICT is the extraordinary speed at which technology and solutions evolve – think of what you were doing, supporting or selling just five or even two years ago and how much has changed since then! – but that uber-fast pace means it’s all too easy to fall behind, or feel like you’ve done so.

More informal networking opportunities and mentoring programs could help women remain connected with their peers while they’re on leave and remain up to date with industry developments and trends.

Getting back in

And for those women who do choose to take several years, rather than months, out caring for their families, programs like STEM Returners, which help them to re-skill and re-enter the workforce can be invaluable.

I believe there are plenty of candidates who’d love the opportunity to restart where they left off: women with stellar track records but whose CVs are short on current experience.

What’s needed is a bigger pool of employers who are willing to take a long view and invest in supporting these potentially valuable employees back into workforce, via paid internships.

Making men part of the solution

But we don’t just need women driving initiatives to enable other women to have children and a rewarding career in ICT too. Only by educating men about the benefits of a more gender balanced workforce, and enlisting their help to create one, will we see true lasting and genuine change and greater opportunities for women to stay in the sector and make the juggle work. That’s something to strive for in 2022.

24. Lorraine Costello, Senior Director, Customer First APAC at Okta

What I have observed through my career echoes the common truism - talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. For women in male-dominated industries such as technology, there is still widespread underrepresentation and fewer opportunities for promotion. I believe that recognising exclusion in the workplace needs to be more than a conversation – we need a concerted effort from every organisation to hold the door open to diverse talents, create empathy and celebration for diversity and challenge systemic biases.

I like how the theme #BreakTheBias brings a focus to the efforts needed to shift social attitudes. We know already that diversity leads to more innovative and balanced teams, delivering better business outcomes. We also know that women, particularly in STEM, are more susceptible to imposter syndrome despite their abilities.

With 20+ years in the technology industry in both the US and Australia, I feel it’s important to use my personal experience and my platform as an IT leader to encourage other women in tech-centric roles. I’m proud to have spoken on diversity initiatives, such as Australian Women in Security, to highlight the progress we’ve made at Okta. Women@Okta, our employee resource group, operates as a support system and a leadership council to encourage female workers to take on new responsibilities and opportunities in the workplace. Together, our mission is to see women at Okta thrive in tech-centric roles.

I’m encouraging of any workplace initiative that goes beyond mentoring and prioritises the professional development and career progression of female employees. Companies that proactively develop education and mentorship program with young women to level up confidence and skills and awareness of career opportunities for women in tech will only benefit in the long run.

At Okta, our annual State of Inclusion report (now in its second year) holds ourselves accountable for walking the walk, company-wide. At Okta, we have increased the number of female-identifying employees across the organisation, including in leadership and tech roles – historically male-dominated areas. However, we know that recruitment is just one part of the solution. Our promotion data shows that male- and female-identifying employees are promoted at roughly equal rates.

Together, we are championing female leaders to #BreaktheBias.

25. Lyra MacKay, Evangelist at Zoho

We’ve come a long way, but there is still a long way to go to overcome conscious and unconscious bias. So let’s make not only International Women’s Day, but every day a commitment to #BreaktheBias. At Zoho, I’m surrounded by strong female leaders who make everyone - male and female, young and old, from across the world - feel empowered, valued and understood. We don't care about gender, age or religion, we care about the content of character, the way we treat one another and our passion and eagerness to learn, grow and encourage. However, I’m well aware that millions of women face bias, not fairness.

International Women’s Day is about raising awareness of this, but it’s also a day to celebrate women; sisters, daughters, mothers, aunties, grandmothers, business owners, and women from every culture.

Ultimately, I believe we should celebrate everyone's uniqueness and normalise celebrating women and our successes every day. For example, in my house, at dinner every night, someone asks:

“Did you win the day?”. We each explain how we won the day; whether something awesome and significant happened at work, or we simply went for a walk. Normalising celebrating people and achievements - big or small - breeds positivity. So let’s be proud about positive, inspiring women - past, present and future - this International Women’s Day. Let’s also spread love and kindness to everyone, no matter what. Tell someone they’re doing a great job, smile at a stranger, hug a friend, call a family member, text that person you’ve been meaning to text, and appreciate the little things in life.

26. Margaux Liquard, Head of Safety Operation at Yubo:

Yubo is one of the fastest-growing social platforms for Gen Z, with over 1.3 million registered users in Australia and 130,000 live streams per day globally.

At Yubo, we support, champion and empower each other in the workplace and the talented women that surround us. To date, we have six female executives leading the charge within our global tech company, spearheading successful campaigns, and making a difference within our company.

To #BreakTheBias, we need to stand together and support one another. Together we can forge women's equality.

We empower women to use social media as a wide-reaching platform to #BreakTheBias. It is essential to empower women of all ages to use social media platforms. Yubo has a wide reach to mass audiences. We want to encourage women and everyone to educate, facilitate positive discussions, and be heard in a safe space and a safe environment.

Empowering but also staying vigilant. We will actively call out and report any discrimination, gender bias and stereotyping each time a user sees it in its community and daily life. There is still much progress to do in real life or online to help educate, change behaviour, and challenge the status quo.

27. Melanie Cochrane, Group Managing Director, Equifax Australia and New Zealand

Q. What commentary would IT tech leaders, women and men, like to say to iTWire readers about International Women’s Day?

A. International Women's Day is an opportunity to reflect on biases that we might not consider on a daily basis. Whether consciously or not, we all contribute to bias, and we are all the subject of bias. Everyone has a part to play in building a more equitable society, because it's not just a problem for women but for all our communities when over half of our population continues to be held back from realising their potential.

Q. What does the #BreakTheBias theme mean for women’s equality and opportunities in leadership in IT and in life?

A. Wherever you look - in IT and leadership positions across the workforce, in our homes, as parents - bias impacts women. But more importantly, it impacts everyone if we continue to allow inequality and the barriers that prevent women from achieving their dreams. Breaking the bias means continuing to evolve the expectations of women in the home, helping them achieve greater success in their professional careers, and closing gender pay gaps at work. It also means achieving equality in policies such as parental leave, so that men have the opportunity to support women’s careers by taking on responsibilities like child care.

Q. What should women, men, companies and organisations be doing to further women’s equality and to #BreakTheBias?

A. As leaders, no matter our gender, we need to be brave enough to call out bias when we see it, and create a psychologically safe environment where others can do the same. Individual leaders and organisations should actively open doors for other women, particularly those with less experience or from different backgrounds.

At Equifax, we’re committed to enabling responsible access to credit and encouraging greater financial equality, no matter a person’s gender, background, or experiences. Internally, we have a dedicated focus on improving representation of both women and employees of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and nearly half of our global employee population is now proudly made up of women.

28. Melissa Antoine, Senior Success Manager, ANZ, Jamf:

2022 is all about being visible. We normalise what we see. For example, women speaking at IT roadshows, women on IT podcasts, women in IT advertisements, etc. These things are all now happening but so much more can be done.

Job advertisements, for example, should call out that they’re an inclusive workplace when they’re hiring for an IT role, and recruiting all genders. Another idea would be a video of a woman advocating for her place of work and how she came to be in IT, her joys, her challenges and empowerment. A story of rising no less.

Diversity in technology ensures we capture a wider net of needs and deliverables.

29. Nadine Lafleur, Senior Marketing Manager – ANZ, Talend: 

This year’s International Women’s Day theme on “breaking the bias” is particularly impactful. As we uplift and celebrate women, we know that embracing diverse perspectives allow organisations to have the creativity to be even more innovative and gain even more of an edge. At Talend, we value a diverse workforce, and we are focused on creating an inclusive culture that creates a sense of belonging for everyone. We’ve committed to increasing the representation of women at Talend globally by 10%. This objective will require a rethink of how we, as an organisation, can help reduce bias and promote inclusivity throughout the hiring process.

Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go. Indeed, according to World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2020, female workers in Australia make up an estimated 27% of workers in Data and AI roles. A share of women that could be much higher as the report highlights that Data and AI professions under-utilise available talent pools at a global level. For example, women make up 25% of Data Scientists professionals but 31% of those with relevant skillset in all other occupations.

Learning to break the bias starts at an early age. In a digital-first world, we can all play a part in promoting tech professions and skills to school girls, students, and women in reconversion or training. Biases can be addressed through education and scientific studies where women are not well represented. To that aim, we commit ourselves to this by supporting and donating our skills to courses as well as technologies to higher education in ANZ.”

30. Nicola Ayan, Director of Technology and Growth at Optimizely:

We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go with inequality for women. International Women’s Day is a momentous occasion to celebrate women from all walks of life and acknowledge their achievements.

This year's International Women’s Day theme, #BreaktheBias rings especially true. Working in the technology sector for over a decade I’ve seen both conscious and unconscious bias towards women. Growing up, my mother was a software developer so watching her work hard to get to where she was inspired me to take up a tech career. Attending my third year of university I was one of three women in a cohort of 60. This lack of representation did not change as I entered the workforce. In a recent summit for nominated MVPs, I again was only one of four women in a group of about 50.

There are many leading technology organisations, like Optimizely, who value diversity and inclusion in the workplace, however, there’s still more that can be done. The industry needs more opportunities to support females from as early as primary school to break the bias around technology being a boys club. I believe if more young females had the opportunity to be exposed to successful females in the tech industry like I was growing up with my mother, then we’d see many more women joining the workforce in years to come.

31. Padmini Vundavalli, Senior Vice President - Quality, MetricStream:

We need to turn up the volume and frequency of these conversations and actions. I’d like to see things happen consistently throughout the year. I’m not just a woman on International Women’s Day.

While I see a lot more women in corporate and engineering roles now than two decades ago when I first started my career, the numbers still fall off dramatically in leadership. I’m still often the only woman in leadership discussions pertaining to technology.

We can’t and shouldn’t shy away from what I perceive as existing and burning issues in the sector. We must face and overcome them to create a better future and better pathways for women. That means recognising the potential of the individual and being transparent about salaries. It also means asking people what concerns they have, knowing people’s backgrounds, and making offers of assistance or of opportunities for learning and growth. Even small acts of encouragement - access to good mentors and role models - can make an enormous difference. You won’t know just how much you can help people if you don’t ask them what they need to learn to grow. Conversely, you won’t know how much you can help people around you if you don't offer.

In my career, I’ve not only experienced gender bias but also cultural bias as well.

For example, something I experienced while pregnant, and then again when returning from maternity leave, was a lack of understanding and empathy by leaders. Sometimes you can’t make it on-time, commute five days or work back late. Having children transforms you physically and mentally. You aren’t going to return exactly as you were and simply pick up where you left off. I wasn’t confident to push back on it, or speak up. Ideally attitudes would change so I - and other women - don’t have to worry about that.

Coming from India, I’ve also always been acutely aware of cultural differences in business, and particularly in communicating well. I was privileged to be on the same team as a woman from a non-English speaking background for five years. She had trouble with English, but was determined not to let it stand in her way. She was always the first person to raise her hand at the CEO ‘town hall’, and got her point across, even if it took a few goes. As long as she got an answer, that was what mattered. We never spoke about it, but just watching her gave me a lot of confidence.

A lot of small shifts or changes can make a big difference to the way women experience the tech industry.

32. Paula Kilby, Talent Acquisition Manager at Cyara.

When I started out in technology 25 years ago, it was a man’s world. I witnessed an experienced female colleague get offered a junior role because she was coming back from maternity leave. She was expected to start at the bottom again on a lower salary. Similarly, I was asked whether I had children, or was planning to have them, when applying for roles. Experiences like these were the catalyst that saw me move into recruitment.

Today, women make up just 29% of Australia's tech sector and I believe negative recruitment experiences still play a significant role in deterring females from entering, and remaining, in the industry.

I suffered a redundancy in 2020. I was more than qualified for the roles I applied for but what I was confronted with was poor candidate experience, failure to provide timely – if any – feedback and massive amounts of ghosting. I posted an article about my experience on LinkedIn and received 40,000 hits in 48 hours, so I knew it was widespread. While this is not unique to females, the negative effects of poor candidate experience on women within the male-dominated sector of technology are often long-lasting.

I train our global hiring managers on how to engage and nurture relationships with female candidates. By evolving our talent acquisition business process, we now provide every candidate with the best chance of a positive experience – whether they secure a job or not. This includes feedback at all levels of the hiring process, from a real person candidates can contact. Personalising our approach has made a huge difference to Cyara’s employer and talent brand.”

Six ways Cyara has evolved its recruitment processes and successfully engaged female candidates:

  • The application process was made quick and simple, including easy upload from any device
  • Every applicant receives a response from a person who is contactable. Often females stop applying for roles with a company if they can’t speak to someone.
  • Cyara joined The Circle Back Initiative. Paula and her team provide candidates with a personal response at every step of the hiring process.
  • Cyara’s hiring managers are trained to identify transferable skills buried within a CV - key to uncovering candidates who would otherwise be deemed unsuitable.
  • If candidates don’t have the skills needed for the role they have applied for, the team looks for other roles within the company.
  • An employee profiles section was created on Cyara’s careers website that promotes females in the company. These links are included in all job adverts.

Cyara’s female workforce increased by 18% in 2021, while time-to-hire was reduced from 120 to below 60 days. Every candidate received feedback from a real person, with the help of new technology and business processes. People responded to let us know they were incredulous that we gave feedback and most respondents saying this were female.

33. Peggy de Lange, VP of International Expansion, Fiverr

The celebration of International Women's day is something I feel extremely proud to be a part of. Historically, women have been expected to take a back seat when it comes to being a part of making change in the world, but this day is a reminder that women belong at all tables where decisions are made.

This year’s theme of #BreakTheBias is a true representation of where we are at on a societal level. Women everyday are working together to smash the glass ceiling, to break down barriers to ensure a more equal workplace - but there is still very much a cultural bias that holds back the progression of women in typical make industries and also C-level leadership roles and company directorships. That being said, the future for women in leadership is incredibly bright. We continue to unite and maintain a collective voice that is being heard. I am surrounded by female leaders who inspire me daily, and I hope to do the same in my work and personal lives.

I am proud of the achievements and leadership of women around the globe. Making change in business is no easy feat, but the more women who are at the table, who are leading the conversations, who are doing the hiring and the decision making, well - the outcomes speak for themselves. More female representation equals more diverse opinions and creative outcomes, and this is certainly something worth celebrating.

For women, this day is not only one for celebration and recognition for all that women have achieved towards gender equality and women’s rights, but to look to a brighter future that we can all be a part of.

34. Revital Kremer, Chief Technology Officer, SupPlant:

What pushes me forward throughout my career is the fulfillment from my work and the satisfaction of success, and from time to time, ignoring the fact of me being a woman. I feel this fact sometimes influences the individual and not necessarily its surroundings.

Every person's internal drive should be based on passion and desire, regardless if this person is a woman or a man. I believe that men and women are different and have different characteristics, but this has nothing to do with limitations. Every person should be aware of his or her strengths and weaknesses and find their own way of handling issues.

An additional crucial part of success for a mother is letting the spouse take control over the house and kids from time to time. Breaking the bias at home definitely helps to break additional biases outside of the home.

To put it short, it is crucial to break the bias from within before attempting to break it outwardly.

As for the external world, companies need to promote diversity, improve flexibility in the workplace, embrace different styles and appreciate compassion.

At SupPlant, the R&D department is a group of talented people each in his or her TECH domain. but although the company is an AgTech company, none of them are agronomists. Hence, every development action we make is accompanied by an agronomist and involves experts from other departments. Our technology is helping farmers all over the world, and in Australia, to “speak plant”: irrigation used to be based mainly on intuition but with rapid climate change this is becoming harder and harder.

We place sensors on the crops which radiate to the cloud exactly what the plant is feeling at any given moment, and how thirsty it really is. Taking this into account together with climatic forecasts, we deliver farmers with climate-adaptive irrigation recommendations to make sure to water the crops when they actually need the water and in the actual amount that they need. My department is developing technology that is influencing food security, water scarcity and climate change around the world and this makes us all very proud and motivated.

To achieve all of this, I insist on three main building blocks:

  • Cutting edge tech improvements
  • Strict processes and documentations
  • People that care about people 

35. Robin Stimac, Chief Product Officer at Templafy

International Women’s Day is a great day to recognise how we, as a business and a society, are tracking on equality and inclusivity. Diversity across all industries is important, but it is of special interest to those of us who find ourselves in traditionally male-dominated professions such as technology. To ensure we continue to bridge the divide, we must create more opportunities for women to develop their skills in these emerging fields, where we’ll continue to see high job growth.

To that end, I believe it is important for each of us as female leaders in technology to foster mentorships across our own networks, whether it be within your own organisation or outside of it, as it is a great way to give back and build a strong and resilient community. Having relatable, female role models opens up endless possibilities for women as they build their career and is one of the top strategies for ultimately bridging the gap in leadership.

Throughout my career, I’ve benefited from watching and working with many strong and successful women leaders, where they not only helped to bolster my technical and leadership skills but also challenged me to find my courage and to contribute to creating a sense of belonging for others in whatever role I found myself. From them I learned what an impact each of us can have in setting a positive path for future generations -- and it’s a role I’d encourage us each to embrace as we move towards a more equitable world.

36. Samantha Lear, Information Technology Team Lead, Verizon

I recently read that women are OVER-mentored and UNDER-Promoted. It made me stop and think, and I can’t help but agree. Throughout my life, I’ve haven’t always felt like I was given the same opportunities as men, which is why I love this year’s theme of breaking the bias.

There is pressure to “choose a career “from a young age, which contributes to the lack of women in IT. There would be more women in the IT industry if we encouraged early interest in technology from childhood. Like a waterfall, this will trickle down to result in more women in IT, encouraging a greater push and need for equality and open more opportunities for women in this currently male dominated landscape.

Being a woman in leadership can be hard. We question ourselves a lot more than men on whether we can do a job. We don’t tell our hiring manager “I was the right choice” we say “Thank you! I won’t let you down.” This mindset needs to stop, and we need to start thinking I AM right for this role, I deserve this, and I can do this. We’re all human, and we have resources and support available for when we need it.

To further women’s equality and break the bias, companies need to start looking at how they can facilitate more openness and encouragement. This can include offering work experience opportunities for female students to keep them interested in IT at younger ages to increase the numbers we see entering the workforce or standing up and pointing out discrimination as it happens, not after it happens, so women feel equally supported as their male peers.

At Verizon, we have established a unique Diversity Inclusion Equality Measure tool to help track the representation of race, gender, ethnicity and identity, to help towards accountability on diversity and inclusion. I think we will quickly see that, as more women come into the IT workplace, demand for equality and opportunity will increase and we will see companies being pushed to address these issues if they exist in the business.

37. Sash Vasilevski, Principal, Security Centric:

The cyber security industry has traditionally experienced a significant skew to a male workforce. The industry as a whole needs to make the field more attractive to the brilliant female minds that would otherwise pursue a career where they can enjoy a lack of bias and stereotypes. Security Centric has experienced the value that diversity can bring – not just in gender – and has had to go out of its way to find and attract some of the invaluable females that make up our team.

Not only do our women contribute through their subject matter expertise, but they demonstrate diversity and equality first hand to our younger team members. Observing norms of equality, diversity and inclusion early in their career will mean they adopt these values in the workplace and in leadership – be that at Security Centric or elsewhere.

Taking direction from the very top, organisations can ensure they’ve built core processes, such as recruitment and evaluation, to engineer out biases and ensure an equitable and inclusive experience. Leaders can look for and sponsor initiatives that remove subjectivity from both recruitment and performance reviews, to stamp out any possibility of bias being introduced by individuals – either consciously or subconsciously. This ensures the best individual gets the job and the promotion, without biases, stereotypes or preconceptions.”

38. Shantell Williams, Chief Technology Officer, Tic:Toc

The finance and technology sectors are perfect case studies for this year’s theme of #BreakTheBias. They’ve long been male-dominated, lacking not only in female-representation but also in encouraging broader inclusivity. Having been involved in both industries for over 15 years, initially in tech as a programmer and now as an executive in the fintech space, I know these sectors are full of opportunities for anyone with the right aptitude and ambition.

Breaking the bias in STEM needs to start with emphasising the broad range of opportunities it holds: you’re never limited to ‘the tech sector’, as every sector can welcome ambitious, driven minds with a passion for technology, and the fields themselves aren’t limited to one way of working. I have a lot of passion for these fields, in no small part due to the flexibility and training available that can enable greater participation from women.

For women who are interested in pursuing a bias breaking career, I want to provide this piece of advice: Have the courage to speak up in the moment. Make your voice heard - your views are valid! If you get cut off mid-sentence, once the person has said what they wanted, finish your train of thought (with a smile)! Persistence is key and people will respect you for it.

39. Sianne Chen, Marketing Manager APAC, Fastly

We’ve come a long way in the past few decades. Some industries have tremendous momentum to celebrate while others still have some work to do. The tech industry unfortunately isn’t renowned for gender parity.

In 2020, women only accounted for about 25% of computing-related jobs and 14% of software engineers. I recognise all of us need to lean in to improve this and I feel fortunate to work alongside many exceptional peers at Fastly who continuously strive to break conscious and unconscious biases in the workplace and advocate for women to be able to do their best work.

The evolving nature of womens’ roles in society as a daughter, parent, friend, colleague, and caretaker very often lead to constant prioritisation of time and focus. Imagine a Future of Work where trust is ingrained to empower every woman to make decisions every day for what’s best for the company, their family, and their own wellbeing. We will see less bias, fewer struggles, and a more confident female workforce.

Whether you’re a woman, an alliance, or an organisation starting on your inclusion and diversity journey, you can help make it better by offering an open dialogue where people can share their experiences or participate by actively listening. Normalising conversation and feedback on gender equality is acknowledging the many roles of women in the society and that together we can help improve the reality tomorrow.

40. Sofia Merida, Pre-Sales Engineer, Zscaler

What can ICT companies and the women who work for them do to ‘break the bias’ in 2022 and beyond?

A great way for companies to demonstrate their backing for female employees and their achievements is being genuinely open to creating more opportunities for women. Making workplaces more female friendly, by offering flexible working conditions and generous family leave policies as standard, for example, would certainly encourage more high calibre women to enter our industry.

Participating in industry events and awards is another important piece of the puzzle. This is a good way to inspire other women to reach for the heights and boost their belief that they, too, can get in there and enjoy success working in the sector.

And when they get here, forgetting about the gender imbalance, and any potential bias they may experience as a result, and focusing instead on delivering great outcomes for customers and their employer is the best way for those women to survive and thrive.

Respect needs to be earned, not gifted, and we women are more than capable of earning it. We can do so by understanding the product or service we’re offering, presenting with confidence and looking for opportunities to improve our knowledge and ‘lean in’. Following that course has helped me to build an exciting and rewarding career in the high tech space and I’d love to see more women backing themselves to do the same.

41. Tamara Oppen, Managing Director at GoDaddy Australia

International Women’s Day is a day to reflect on our progress and goal of creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all women around the globe. Breaking the bias is about each and every one of us ensuring that we continue to smash through the barriers that often hold us back.

At GoDaddy, we work to cultivate a culture of respect and authenticity, where employees are encouraged to bring their authentic selves to work every day. This is the seventh year we’ve achieved pay parity across the organisation, and since first reporting gender and salary data in 2015, our gender representation has grown by seven per cent. Nearly 92% of employees feel that their manager creates an environment that allows them to be their authentic selves at work. Working in an environment like this makes me feel proud, empowered and part of a global family that genuinely values the contribution, background and character of every single person.

Women are unstoppable when we back ourselves and go for it using skills that are synonymous with entrepreneurs, like resilience, determination, curiosity. This year for International Women’s Day, my advice to women is to believe in yourself more. Trust your instincts and inner voice, and don’t underestimate how valuable they can be. Recent GoDaddy research found that 88% of female respondents said they relied on their instincts when starting and running their business. Now might be the right time to follow your passions and go for it.

42. Tanya Hovagimian, ANZ Channel Manager, ExtraHop:

It’s interesting to consider that, in the third decade of the 21st Century, there is still a gender imbalance in the IT industry. It might be closing slowly, but there is still a very long way to go.

Entrenched attitudes and a lack of support can result in many women shying away from the sector and others joining but quickly finding an alternative career.

Unfortunately, there also tends to be a bias that exists around women who want to start a family while also developing their careers.

IT companies need to become better at explaining the exciting opportunities that exist, while schools need to improve the way they arm children with the right skills. Indeed, school curriculums should focus more on practical, real-life situations rather than theory. This will help to ensure that greater inclusion can achieved among students regardless of their gender.

43. Tiru Ingrid Anzola, Head of Data Platform, at Shippit

This International Women’s Day, it’s important that we all engage with the theme #Breakthebias. While the gender-gap in the tech industry has improved, there’s still significant progress we need to make. To produce any widespread change in the industry, we all need to be part of the solution.

Women in tech often work harder to move forward in the industry and as a result, women need allies they can lean on for support. Whether it be other women working in the industry, a boss, or a colleague, it’s of great importance that females are surrounded by people who celebrate their achievements and work. When I first moved to Australia, it was almost impossible to find work in my field of expertise, and after many setbacks, my consistent determination grew stronger and I finally landed a great job in tech! Not only did this opportunity give me a role, it also led me to find my first career mentor and ally in the industry.

While #Breakthebias is a necessary conversation starter, it’s also essential that action is taken. Companies must provide a platform for all employees to share their voice, so they can be heard and valued. For example, providing mentorship for women is a great way to ensure younger generations of women are inspired, supported, and learning from other females that are paving the path in the industry.

Now is our time to produce, change and be part of the solution, and although progress is slow, it’s starting to happen. It’s clear that diversity is key to producing the best outcomes, so the more women we have who work and flourish in IT, the stronger the workplace. Our society has stereotypes that we need to dismantle, and sharing our voice, while listening to others, is the first step to initiating the change and to #Breakthebias.

44. Trisha Trainor, Engineer Manager at Dovetail Studios

For me, International Women’s Day is a moment to stop, pause and reflect on our global and local journey so far on gender parity. It’s a time to acknowledge and celebrate the progress. Yet a chance to look ahead at what still needs to be achieved. The true value of International Women’s Day comes when each of us as individuals and organisations looks at the choices we’re making to help create a more inclusive environment not just for ourselves but for others around us.

With over two decades of experience in the tech industry, many international moves and three kids later, my motivation to create a space where we grow an inclusive and diverse workplace is more important than ever. As I think about the story I want to portray as I am observed by both my male colleagues and our less experienced women in the workplace; I consciously choose to pause between emotional response and conscious action to ensure how I act resonates in a way that helps break the bias that exists both within me and within others.

A quote from Jane Goodall comes to mind - “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” As individuals and organisations we must consciously choose to #BreaktheBias in order to narrow the gender gap that exists. I’m fortunate enough to work at a great company, Dovetail, which values this and consciously strives to operate and live by these values. However, there’s still a long way to go. Instead of waiting for what others should be doing, it’s time for organisations to think about what difference they can make in breaking some inequities within their own environment.

45. Wei Wei Kho, Inside Sales Leader, Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group AP:

This International Women’s Day, it’s important to recognise the progress we have made to date yet also acknowledge there is still much to do in our quest for equality. Although women today have greater opportunities than in earlier times, the existence of societal and cultural biases continues to be a barrier for many of us, even men.

As women, we have a natural desire to improve – constantly adapt within ourselves and the life around us. Similar is the case in IT as we are leveraging technology to build a better world and drive business growth efficiently. I am privileged to work with customers on their digital transformation journey which is so rewarding. We look for ways to bring progress and efficiency in our lives whether at home, work, or in the community. It is a common goal and we do it together.   

Throughout my career, having led multiple teams & being part of boardrooms, I have learned that women need to build on their unique individual strengths and contribute as strong team members ensuring their success benefits all. We collectively need to Transform to Transcend and Break The Bias. The first step is realisation.

For companies, organisations, and our male colleagues, that starts with awareness and respect. For women, this means staying focused, celebrating oneself, and spending quality time with supportive friends and loved ones. We are more powerful when we work together.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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