The expert opinion on fixing the gender imbalance in tech

Katherine Munford, Managing Director of Data2Decisions spoke to us about her experience as a woman in tech and what small businesses can do to bridge the industry’s gender gap.

Despite the widespread conversation on gender disparity and women in the workplace, it’s no secret that more needs to be done to close the gap. This is particularly evident in the technology industry, with women making up only 17% of tech workforces.
Katherine Munford, Managing Director of marketing effectiveness consultancy, Data2Decisions has forged her career over 20 years in the tech industry, and shares with us her story on what the future holds for women in tech.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and Data2Decisions?

 

We’re a marketing effectiveness consultancy that focuses on helping clients to drive business performance through marketing. I joined the business in the start-up phase 12 years ago so, I’ve been able to help shape the direction of the company and expand to different markets around the world..

What attracted you to working at Data2Decisions?

 
I was drawn to marketing effectiveness and the industry because it gave me a good opportunity to apply my analytical and technical skills in a fast-paced and dynamic sector. It was the focus on innovation that made me choose Data2Decisions and it’s the same reason I’ve stayed here for twelve years. We’re always working on new solutions, which is really exciting.

What’s your experience been like as a woman in the technology and advertising industries?

 
I would say there are some clear challenges in equal representation and diversity in both tech and advertising. I think that companies are increasingly taking positive steps to address this. There’s more focus on achieving better representation for women at a senior level and companies are starting to invest more in initiatives to support this. Clients are increasingly expecting better representation as well, and in some cases mandating their agencies, which I think is going to accelerate positive change.

In terms of my personal experience, I took part in Dentsu Aegis Network’s first Women in Leadership programme, which was launched a couple of years ago. The objective of this programme was to provide training tools and to support women in building a successful leadership career in the network and the industry. We’re now in the third year and the programme has been a huge success.

Have you noticed any kind of change in the technology sector since you started twelve years ago?

 
I think there’s an increasing number of corporate initiatives that are aimed at attracting or retaining female talent. Mentoring and coaching also have an important role to play. I think it’s really useful for women in their careers to have someone who can provide support and give them confidence to call out issues in the industry if they experience them.

There’s one big initiative called the Tech Talent Charter, which is founded by a number of organisations across recruitment, technology, social enterprise fields and supported by the government. The focus is on increasing the number of women in technology roles through attraction recruitment, as well as strategies for retention.

What else needs to happen to help make tech seem a viable industry for women to go into?

 
There needs to be a bigger focus at the grass roots level, because that’s where key decisions are made. At A-Level and degree level, choices are made that will ultimately influence likely career paths. There’s a lot of evidence to show that relatively few women are being encouraged to pursue tech focused careers. It’s not a question around skills and ability, it’s around the influence from social stereotypes related to gender and career paths. So, the more that we can do to provide awareness on available careers within schools, the more we should be able help to inspire the next generation of women to join the tech sector.

What tips would you give to business owners who want to positively impact equality in the workplace?

 
The primary thing is to have diversity at a leadership level. There’s narrative everywhere about the importance of diversity, but actions speak louder than words. Having role models at the top to help support an inclusive culture is really important. I think that investing in retaining and developing talent once it’s in the business is another thing that small businesses can do to make an impact. Investing in initiatives like coaching and mentoring can make a huge difference in retaining talent and developing it to the next level.

If Katherine’s story has inspired you then, why not check out Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon’s journey? Learn about the STEM industry, what it’s like to be a woman working in it, and how her social enterprise – Stemettes – is making a stand for equality and diversity.