Comprising a mere 28% of the global tech workforce, women are largely underrepresented in tech-related jobs according to a report from The World Bank. While efforts in education and recruitment are showing some promise, progress remains slow. To better understand the issues, we asked some of our pioneers at Glia for their perspective on what inspired them to pursue a career in technology and what the future holds for women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields:
Gina Clarkin, senior product marketing manager, fell into tech from another career. “I actually have a degree in Music Management, and started a career in the business side of the music industry. Early on I realized it was not for me, so I started doing temp work to explore different companies. I landed at American Megatrends and was hired by the director of sales. Even though the company was the leader in its space, it was of a size that I could wear many hats from writing press releases for the newest RAID controller, to overhauling our royalty invoicing process, to working with OEM partners like Intel. I also got to work directly with our engineering teams, technical writers and sales teams. The technical aspect was challenging, with always something new to learn; the variety was interesting, and the industry itself was fascinating. I was hooked! Although, I have to admit, I’ve come full circle, using the same transferable skills I developed for the music industry, that translate into essentially the same roles: product marketing, marketing and product management. Go figure!”
Anna Dunajeva, a software engineer for Team Browser in Tallinn, also started in a different field—medicine. After working as a physician, she was drawn to engineering. “I drew inspiration from my close friends who were involved in IT. Through our discussions about their studies and work, I gained insight into the field. The fascinating challenges they faced sparked my interest, leading me to learn programming as a side hobby. Starting with Python and solving Project Euler programming challenges, I realized that working as a software engineer was a perfect fit. Self-taught and equipped with a project to showcase my skills, I secured my first job. Since then, I have never regretted pursuing software development.”
Erin Toth, a sales engineer, also came to tech after other careers, working as a certified sommelier/wine educator and machinist before making the decision to pursue a tech role. “I was always drawn to the tech world, I spent most of my high school free time learning to code and build websites, but when I graduated Computer Science was still the only real entry point. I didn’t have strong enough math skills and circa 2000 Computer Science still didn’t seem like it had much room for girls and women. Things have changed in terms of ways to enter tech—and in 2018 I felt I needed a career change and pursued a web development bootcamp. It was tough but rewarding and opened the door for me to work in a number of different roles at tech start-ups. My technical skills paired with customer service and communication background led me to where I am today.”
While Anna, Erin and Gina are blazing trails for women in technology, they are also quite optimistic about the future. “I do believe there is a noticeable shift in the gender ratio within the industry. The overall popularity of IT careers is increasing, and more women are pursuing them, which is an encouraging trend. I have several female friends working as software engineers, and even my younger sister, who just graduated from high school, is considering applying for computer science,” noted Anna.
Gina concurs. “I think there are successful efforts happening at all levels, from the classroom to the boardroom. There is such an emphasis on STEM/STEAM programs in schools, fostering more early awareness and hands-on experience in a variety of technical disciplines. As more young women get involved in and pursue careers in technology, there are more opportunities for those same women to reach back, forming or supporting non-profit organizations, mentoring students, and developing young professionals. The tech industry itself is constantly evolving, generating more professional opportunities. Look at the growth in AI-based applications, for example. So I’m optimistic on the subject of women’s representation in tech. At the same time, I know that I’ve personally experienced some of the challenges women cite when it comes to work/life balance. My perspective is that “balance” may not be the right goal. I’ve heard a very successful former colleague comment that as a woman in tech, you can “have it all” but not necessarily all at the same time. I do think women have to be prepared to manage their careers differently, and not always expect a linear path.”
They agree that Glia is on the right track to include more women in tech positions. “Glia strives to provide equal opportunities for everyone and values everyone’s voices. I feel that Glia recognizes the need for progress and actively works towards creating a more balanced and equitable workforce,” said Anna.
Gina added, “I think for a company of our size and life stage, we are moving in the right direction. Could we have more representation of women in tech positions? Of course, just like nearly every other company, if you look at industry data. But we have a number of amazingly talented women in leadership roles across a variety of tech positions.”
Those numbers are poised to increase, as Glia continues to recruit and benefit from a growing field of women with deep tech skills and experiences.