What inspired you to work in the field of IT consultancy?
I took up computer science in university for reasons of economics, more than anything else. The IT profession was seen as very lucrative at the time and getting this degree was my ticket to a more financially stable life. I never thought I would enjoy coding, but I have loved the challenge of solving problems with logic and programming.
To this day, I still get a thrill out of building a code that churns out successful results. We now live in a digital world and technology, when put to good use, can be a great equaliser in our society placing information within reach of people from all walks of life. This is what mainly inspires me to continue working in this field.
What piece of advice would you give to women aspiring to join your industry?
Just like anything else in life, if you are passionate about something go for it, no matter the odds. Having said that, it always helps to educate oneself about the industry, particularly about the challenges that women face in a predominantly male industry such as IT, so that you are better prepared and can avoid getting disoriented and frustrated.
Professional women should consider themselves equal players and accept that they are worthy of any career aspirations. However, they should also be aware of the invisible barriers that can exist in the professional realms, like gender bias, which can easily overshadow the merits of skills.
“Professional women should consider themselves equal players and accept that they are worth of any career aspirations.”
What are the challenges companies face with respect to gender equality? How can they have concrete impact?
Whilst it’s important to raise awareness about gender equality issues, if all we ever do is talk about it without concrete results, then we are in danger of generating topic fatigue and people will not want to take it seriously anymore. I think that’s the biggest challenge companies face. There must be a clear roadmap of identifying issues and solutions with commitment from both management and employees to turn things around.
The other challenge is measuring the impact of gender equality and diversity efforts. This could be a subjective area, one that’s hard to quantify since it is not simply about having an equal number of male and female employees, nor is it just giving everyone access to the same resources or opportunities. It also is about giving every individual what they need to be able to make the most of those opportunities, thus levelling off the playing field. Companies need to be able to define the metrics that will clearly indicate these have been achieved.
“There must be a clear roadmap of identifying issues and solutions with commitment from both management and employees to turn things around.”
Do you feel the glass ceiling exists in your industry? How can women break through it?
I feel that it is certainly harder for women and minorities to fill positions of leadership within the industry, in general. However, every organisation is different. Some are better at supporting women than others. You will only know if a glass ceiling exists in your organisation if you talk to the people and ask them.
Having a women’s network creates a safe environment for women to talk about the challenges that they face. If these personal experiences are shared with each other, then there is a better chance of identifying the problem and consequently getting the support they need to tackle these challenges. If a barrier such as the glass ceiling does exist, it is hard to break through it alone. Seek someone in a leadership position who can advocate for you and help create connections for you.
“Having a women’s network creates a safe environment for women to talk about the challenges that they face.”
What challenges lie ahead for gender equality, in general?
The biggest challenge is ensuring whatever progress made over the past decade or so is not reversed. Our leaders have a big role to play, but as individuals, our contributions to this cause can make an impact. I truly believe that if you bring together like-minded individuals that are motivated by even just the possibility of change, then only positive things can come out of that, and their collective efforts can create a ripple that can send far-reaching waves.