It might seem difficult to believe that, in 2021, only 25% of jobs in technology were held by women. Such a small percentage shows that women are still grossly underrepresented in this vital and continually growing industry.
Whether the issue is a lack of women with education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects or archaic attitudes in hiring practices, there is a serious lack of women in tech, which is negatively impacting diversity within organisations.
I’ve been working at Protiviti for over five years now in technology consulting but started my career with an internship at Arthur Anderson in Australia, followed by a graduate role at Ernst & Young (EY).
After working with EY across the US, UK and Switzerland, I became intrigued by Protiviti’s global thinking, risk-taking, innovation, adventurous spirit and entrepreneurial focus. I’ve since worked at the crossroads of technology consulting and business process improvement to serve as the translation layer between business and technology. Day to day, I focus on enabling clients to achieve their objectives with the optimal use of technology, while minimising risk and maximising value creation.
I love my career and like to think that I’m able to make a meaningful contribution to helping businesses use technology more effectively.
What It’s Like Climbing the Ranks in Tech as a Woman
I was born in South Africa before my family moved to Australia. There were significant cultural differences, but this experience has certainly shaped my mindset regarding cultural diversity and acceptance. Working with others that do not always share my perspective, I’ve developed resilience, curiosity and actively work to establish, and contribute to better working environments for all people.
I’m committed to improving outcomes for both employees and organisations, and constantly like to challenge myself and those around me. I’m always asking:
- How can we achieve a better outcome?
- How can we solve this problem in a more efficient and effective way?
- How could I have done that better?
In all the meetings I’ve attended over the years, there have rarely been more women in attendance than men. I’ve been pleasantly surprised the one or two times I’ve been in female dominated meetings in the tech industry, so there’s a long way for us to go in reaching equal gender representation in tech.
That being said, I have seen some progress made over the years in women breaking through gender barriers. I work with many strong talented women, and I remain vigilant about offering equal opportunities to people regardless of gender. Protiviti’s unconscious bias training has helped us challenge ourselves on equality within the workforce in everything from hiring to staff allocation on client projects, to treating all individuals with respect, and always asking why. Why do I think that? Is that a fair assumption? Is it based on fact? What evidence do I have to support that thought? I’ve found it’s about understanding that while we’re all human, and all humans have bias, trying to remain consciously inclusive can help reduce stigma, and develop ways to counteract biases to move towards more inclusive workspaces.
Instilling strong structures and fair processes is another key step organisations have taken or must take to empower women in the workforce. I’m a strong advocate for women, men and non-binary people to take time off in their careers to support family responsibilities and work with employers to find the right balance for them. Without that, women in particular experience a handbrake on their careers and career development, which further impacts the statistics of low female representation in senior tech roles.
Personally, I feel that my parental leave time off, part-time roles over the subsequent five years have made me more of an asset to Protiviti. It’s allowed me to show my team and clients that you can have both a successful career in technology, and also have a family. It’s all about balance, and I’m a keen mentor to empower others that while it can be a struggle balancing life and work at times, it’s possible, and the rewards are worth it.
The Importance of Representation in All Aspects of Tech
I believe representation is crucial because role models are essential to inviting more women of all backgrounds to the tech industry. It’s important for women to join a work environment, particularly in tech, that has hired and grown people who have a variety of backgrounds, experiences, outlooks and values. So, hiring from a broad range of characteristics, such as race, sexuality, physical ability and age, is vital to bringing talented women to the tech table. Fortunately, Protiviti's diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives have made this a priority.
What Advice Does Ghislaine Have for Women Looking to Launch a Tech Career?
For women seeking a career in tech, I recommend giving it a go – taking that tech or digital school subject, enrolling in a technology course or degree, and attending tech association events. Talk to people working in tech to explore the possibilities that could shape your career … it’s never too late!
I remain curious and persistent, never take no for an answer and embrace every opportunity.
With a blend of curiosity, tenacity and resilience, I believe that there is very much a role for you in technology, and our clients and workforce will be better for it.
Want to hear more from Ghislaine? Get in touch with her.