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Rising to the top: How women can get to the top in the tech industry

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The reported figures for women in tech have remained stagnant for the last ten years – suggesting that women still represent only around 15 per cent of the UK industry. This is despite the numerous organisations and movements that have been set up with the aim of increasing this figure, and promoting opportunities for women in tech.

Men continue to dominate boardrooms around the world, with just 22 per cent of senior positions held by women in the UK. Although higher than in the US (21 per cent), this is lower than Russia (40 per cent) – and whilst France is statistically the best Western European nation, 33 per cent is still too low in the 21st century.

Taking steps up the career ladder

It is 20 years since I took my first tentative steps into the tech industry – setting up netguide.live, the Internet’s very first daily guide. After launching CMP Media, I took on an even more ambitious and challenging role as the UK MD at AltaVista, a company that was eventually taken over by Yahoo!. These early opportunities cemented my love of media and tech and opened up the opportunity for me to join Outbrain. As Outbrain’s MD for UK and Ireland, I am tasked, amongst other things, with building a strong team and delivering robust business growth.

Vision

I have been fortunate enough to find a career path that I am passionate about in an area that I have become increasingly knowledgeable in. That it is in an industry that continues to advance and grow makes me extremely privileged. When I set out on my journey, I had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve and this clarity of vision has allowed me to focus on and attain my goals without any concern for gender stereotypes. I like to think that balance, coupled with a curiosity for new discoveries, has helped me to realise goals in my professional life.

Networking

An important aspect of my daily role and something that has certainly helped me in my career is networking. Building a network of smart and talented people has not only helped me perform in my day-to-day business operations by being able to attract the best partners and employees, but has helped me to navigate tech circles effectively.

Making connections at even the earliest stages of a career path can open a number of doors that specialist knowledge and skills alone cannot: never underestimate the importance of business contacts and the colleagues that you meet at each step of your career journey. You never know if they’ll be the ones to interview you in the future, or be critical to a new business opportunity.

Read more about women in tech:

Working with the team

It is beneficial to embrace opportunities to work with individuals at all levels of a company. A diverse range of experiences, skills and background can broaden horizons and build team-working skills. No matter what level you work at within an organisation, you can always learn from how others operate and unearth new aspects of an organisation; anybody within a company can inspire you with creative flair and their approach to work. This can give you a big advantage in senior and management roles.

Quashing gender stereotypes

Sadly, certain industries still have gender stigmatisation attached to them – and unfortunately there are those who still perceive the technology industry as a “boys club”. According to recent statistics, only 18.3 per cent of board members operating within the UK’s top technology companies are women, and this is not just concerning for the aspirations of women in technology, but for those of women in business overall. Thinking that technology is a man’s world will lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, and will only serve to widen the gulf that women face in working their way up to senior roles.

I work with Lean In, which offers women inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals. Circles like this are excellent places to share ideas, opportunities and to benefit from the experiences of others – while gathering the motivation to strive for company director roles in this hugely fulfilling sector.

Concerned with issues surrounding gender diversity in business? Don’t miss the Real Business First Women programme:

Drawing on years of the First Women movement and the phenomenal network of pioneering women the Awards has created, this programme features The First Women Awards and The First Women Summit  designed to educate, mentor and inspire women in all levels of business.

Stephanie Himoff is MD UK & Ireland for leading content discovery platform Outbrain.

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