A Man Explains Why Women-in-Tech Matter

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A Man Explains Why Women-in-Tech Matter

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by Lauren Cahn

“The future is undeniably female.” – The Next Web

On May 9 and 10, 2019, Exela Technologies (Exela) will be in Amsterdam at #TNW2019—the 2019 Tech Conference hosted by The Next Web, a cutting-edge media company founded in 2006 to showcase tech advancements and connect and inspire innovators.

“Women around the world are breaking the glass ceiling every day in order to achieve a diverse and equal tech industry,” The Next Web (TNW) goes on to say. Well, happily, Exela is here for it—both TNW2019 and all the glass-smashing. But to give credit where credit is due, it was actually a man who brought to our attention all that TNW is doing to promote women in STEM: Thomas Bagnall, Exela’s Vice President of Strategy and Digital Marketing in our Netherlands offices.

If you’ll be at #TNW2019, you’ll have the chance to meet Tom, who’ll be demonstrating our Exela Smart Office suite of solutions. Tom will also be offering his own insights on women-in-tech and why it matters. For now, this mini-interview will have to suffice:

What prompted Tom to begin considering the role of women in technology?

“I’ve always thought of myself as equality-minded, but I guess I wasn’t particularly proactive until my daughter [now 2] was born,” Tom told us, “or more specifically, when I witnessed how drawn Sophie was to STEM-inspired toys.”

“Did that surprise you?” we asked (because come on, we had to).

“No, but have you seen how boy-oriented those toys are? All the blue packaging and the photos of boys. Clearly, the marketing’s aimed to boys, Tom points out. “Toys aimed at girls tend to be all about traditionally feminine pursuits. And the STEM toys can’t be found in the aisles with the girl-marketed toys. So, yes, the marketing stacks the deck against girls finding their way to STEM.

So then how’d Sophie find her way to STEM toys?

Tom had to consciously lead her to them—literally, to the “boy” aisles at the toy store, where Sophie’s eyes lit up in a way they didn’t amid the pink and fluffy“girl” aisles. So naturally, Tom “kitted out” his house with “all the STEM stuff.” But if Tom hadn’t taken that initiative, Sophie might not have discovered her “inner engineer.”

And it got Tom to thinking: “Maybe we haven’t come as far as we thought.”

“The stats are abysmal,” Tom discovered upon doing a little digging. “Female CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies dropped by 25% last year, and in tech, women make up only 13% of senior executive roles. Only 20% of engineering college graduates are female, and even less go on to work in engineering professions, with only 11% of all engineers being women.

Hang on…is Tom blaming the toy store?

“Clearly the pigeon-holing starts early, but there are women who’ve gotten through despite the obstacles,” Tom points out—name-checking our colleague, Nikita Khadse, our dedictated Exela Smart Office Business Analyst. “She’s been instrumental in preparing for TNW and the upcoming Exela Smart Office demos and presentations,” Tom says. “We’d be lost without her.” That being said, if we want to really change the game for women-in-tech, we’re going to have to start with changing the assumptions.

Tom’s call to action

“Parents, please pay attention to the pigeon-holing/stereotyping, and please offer your daughters ways in to STEM,” Tom suggests. “In the tech business, we all have to bear in mind that hiring is not a tick-box exercise. Recruiting women isn’t enough. We need to offer the best possible environment and infrastructure for women to succeed.” In fact, Tom is walking the walk in his own hiring practices and seeing others doing the same all across Exela.

What Tom wants to know from everyone else is, “What more do you think can be done to pave the way for women in technology?”

If you happen to be in or around Amsterdam on May 9 or 10 and want to chat some more on this topic, or if you’re if you’re interested in seeing what Exela’s Smart Office suite of solutions can change the game for your business, stop by and see Exela at TNW. To see what Exela Smart Office can do for the environment, check out A Smart Office For a Sustainable Planet.

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