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IWD: Female IT leaders discuss gender bias, the importance of embracing equity and leadership

IWD 2023: Sue Azari, Industry Lead – eCommerce at AppsFlyer, Pratima Arora, Chief Product Officer at Chainalysis and Helena Nimmo, CIO at Endava spoke to CNME Editor Mark Forker about how technology can address gender bias, the importance of embracing equity – and the skills required to be an effective business leader.

Sue Azari, Industry Lead – eCommerce, AppsFlyer 

Can you talk the role of technology in addressing gender bias and what can you do as a leader to impact change 

I saw a quote recently which said that “algorithms are just biases in code form”. It’s crucial that we have diversity in tech to ensure that all viewpoints are being captured.

For instance there have been long standing biases in voice recognition due to the lack of diversity of people in roles creating this technology, with examples of voice recognition in a car only picking up men’s voices (source).

Diversity in decision making teams would have reduced the likelihood of this happening. Because of examples like this I am motivated to continue working in tech. The more representation we have, the better chance we have of evening the playing field and having more diversity in this industry which also translates to a better end user experience.  

I also put my efforts into mentoring young women and educating them about roles in tech (through Innovate Her and Girls In Marketing) to hopefully encourage them to consider this as a career path and to change the future landscape of the industry.

I believe that you can’t be what you can’t see; when I was younger, I didn’t know that this type of career path or industry existed and wasn’t aware of any women working in tech. Knowing that or having women role models would have encouraged me to pursue this path sooner and I hope that I am able to do the same for young women. 

What advice would you give younger women who aspire to hold leadership roles in technology 

You have a big part to play in shaping the future of our society. Tech in all its forms has become a crucial part of the way we live. 

 My advice for pursuing a role in tech would be to look at the career paths of people who inspire you (both men and women).

What and where did they study, what qualifications do they have, what was their first job, what types of roles did they have and what types of companies have they worked for? You don’t have to replicate this but it’s good inspiration.

Building a network is important for future job prospects, you can do this online through LinkedIn or through in-person events. I don’t necessarily think that you need a mentor, you can forge your own path.

Be fearless and confident and keep knocking on doors until you find the right opportunity. And always stay curious! Ask lots of questions and stay up-to-date with what is happening in the industry, you would be surprised at how many people don’t do this and it will make you stand out. 

Pratima Arora, Chief Product Officer at Chainalysis 

What advice would you give younger women who aspire to hold leadership roles in technology 

Have a growth mindset. Technology, especially blockchain technology, evolves every day so we are learning every day.

Keep your mind open to learning and don’t let a fear of not knowing every answer discourage you from pursuing leadership.

We need more women leading in tech and leading in blockchain technology specifically. 

The IWD theme for 2023 is “#EmbraceEquity” – why do you believe this is important and do you see tech leading the way in this regard 

The theme of #EmbraceEquity is so important in tech, and even more so within the Web3 space.

Web3 envisions a world built on equity of opportunity, so it needs to be held to a higher standard because equity is at its core.

As women in Web3, we should lead the way in building diverse teams and driving equality of opportunity in the workplace.

Not only because it will increase the amount of women in the industry, but because only by having women in Web3 will the promise of this technology be achieved. 

Helena Nimmo, CIO at Endava 

Why do you think we should have more women in tech? 

Personally, I feel strongly about having women in in tech roles across levels. Beyond the obvious reasons, a key element is that we create technology for users. Women make up half the global population, which means half of our users are female.

Not having that representation within the business does a disservice to the solutions we’re able to offer as an industry.

Technology is only as good as the people driving it forward and I’d encourage business leaders to think through this lens on this year’s International Women’s Day. 

What advice would you give younger women who aspire to hold leadership roles in technology 

The combination of people and technology creates infinite opportunities. From creating new products and improving people’s well-being to enabling us to be more creative. Likewise, there are many routes to become a technology leader.

You might be a nurse or a teacher with a brilliant technology idea to help your colleagues do their work better.

Or an engineer with a vision to enhance a physical product with cutting edge technology. Find your path and follow it, the rest will follow.

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