12 Oct 2023
by Charné Smith

Breaking tech's glass ceiling: My journey as a young woman in tech

Guest blog by Charné Smith, Marketing Assistant at Nine23 #techUKCyber2023

From Ada Lovelace's ground-breaking work in the 19th century to the women leading Fortune 500 tech companies today, to a 21-year-old university student somehow landing up in cyber security. How does this all connect and why does it matter today? The tech industry has been influenced by some remarkable female visionaries, and yet the journey has just begun for women in tech…

The Importance of Diversity

Everyone knows that diversity is important in all fields of life, but does anyone really consider why it’s so important?

  • Innovation – diversified teams allow for a variety of perspectives, causing better solutions and innovative ideas. Diverse groups have a higher chance of identifying new opportunities and creative solutions to complex problems faced in the tech industry. Consider the fact that roughly 50% of the population is made up of women. With only 28% of all jobs in computer and mathematical occupations being occupied by women. worldwide, a large force of ideas and innovations are being left out of this vital industry.
  • Better Decision-Making – with the availability of a group from a diverse background, it allows for different perspectives and possibilities to be considered compared to the view of a smaller group of people who make decisions. It creates diverse opinions and ideas to be considered when making decisions.
  • Market representation – having an inclusive and diverse team better acknowledges and represents the user base of tech customers, which could better the product or service at hand as customer views which might not be recognised by one group could be seen and addressed by another.
  • Economic impact – a better diversity in the workforce and in the tech, industry could have a positive impact on the economy by accessing a larger technology pool, increasing productivity, and fostering growth.

The Current State of Women in Tech

Working in tech isn’t as complicated or as scary as people may think. I used to believe that I would never be in the industry because of these preconceived ideas, that to be a woman in tech, or a woman in STEM, I needed to be an incredible coder, or that I could hack into any system I wanted. But in reality, it’s so much simpler than that…

Do me a favour and scrap all the idea of what think you think someone working in tech needs to be. Now picture yourself: what are your skills and interests? It may be sales, finance, HR, project management, whatever you can think of. The likelihood that your skills are needed in the industry is fairly high. Take me for example - I have a skill for marketing, something you never really associate with technology, yet there I was one day applying for a marketing position in a firm I had never heard of, and suddenly I was in an interview and had the job, although I knew next to nothing about the industry. What I did have was a willingness to learn, however. With this in your back pocket you can succeed almost anywhere in the industry! I don’t think I will ever stop learning in this field: I write blogs regularly on topics I knew nothing about, yet I found myself gradually understanding more and more and then suddenly being able to write something I never thought I’d be capable to even learn about.

So, I guess the moral of the story here is to not put yourself into any kind of box which limits you from doing things you never imagined you would. If you have a skill, utilise it in every way possible and leverage that with tech companies, then bam, you’re a woman in tech!

The Challenges

Of course, not everything can always be so simple though. There are a range of struggles and challenges faced by many. Let’s have a look at some of the challenges:

These are only some of the barriers that are present to women in 2023. But not all hope is lost luckily. There are some prominent figures in the tech industry whom we can all look up to and learn from!

Prominent Women in Tech

It’s always important to recognise the trailblazers who have shattered glass ceilings before, those who set the standard for women and serve as figures of inspiration and encouragement. This list names only a few:

  • Safra Catz – the CEO of Oracle Corporation since 2014. She first joined the organisation as vice president after working in the banking industry for 13 years prior and more than proved her worth in the company, sustaining and building its reputation and profits from the day she arrived.
  • Sheryl Sandberg – the COO of Facebook from 2008 till 2022, still currently sitting on the board of the company. She helped the company become as popular as it is today and still managed to write a book called “Lean In” to encourage women to pursue their ambitions and take leadership roles.
  • Susan Wojcicki – the CEO of YouTube from 2014 to 2023, she actively promotes diversity within the company and the wider tech industry. Similar to Sheryl Sandberg, Susan Wojcicki fostered the growth of YouTube into becoming one of the leading media companies present in today’s society.
  • Marissa Mayer – the former CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer regularly contributes to tech start-ups and is highly involved in the industry itself. She is one of only a few women to lead a Fortune 500 company, after her influential career starting with Google.

If these women, all from different backgrounds, cultures and careers could make a path for themselves in this industry, regardless of the barriers that stood in the way, and the stereotype that the industry is just for men, who’s to say that any women can’t forge their own path forward?

Our Journey as Women in Tech

You may look at these influential women as your role models, using them as a guide to do what they did. Or you may simply use this blog to open your eyes to the possibilities available that you may not have thought were viable before. But we have the ability to change our own futures and further change the industry. If a Gen-Z woman like me, having little to no experience in the tech industry can make it, why couldn’t you?

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 Charné Smith

Charné Smith

Marketing Assistant, Nine23