By Nick Erickson
Although women make up nearly half of all bachelor’s degree graduates among STEM majors, there are startling statistics on gender inequality in the tech industry that show ability doesn’t match ability. ‘opportunity.
According to Liesl Riddle, associate dean for strategy at the George Washington University School of Business, women make up only about 25% of the tech workforce, including just 15% as CEOs.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, the GW School of Business (GWSB) invited and celebrated three women who broke through barriers to become leaders in the male-dominated industry. Teneika Askew, Suuchi Ramesh and Jeeva Senthilnathan were all guests on GWSB’s latest George Talks Business episode on Tuesday, sharing their stories of triumphs and turmoil with Riddle, who moderated the virtual discussion. Askew, Ramesh and Senthilnathan were recently honored Bulging women who build award, of which GWSB is a platinum sponsor.
The awards recognize women who are advancing careers in technology, managing innovation and collaboration, and promoting diversity and inclusion.
Askew, who is the director of data science and analytics enablement for the US Navy and a recipient of the Digital Leader Award, believes the isolation felt in an underrepresented position is one of the main reasons for the disconnect between training and professional achievements.
“When you enter the tech field, you really don’t see people who look like you or think like you,” Askew said. “So when you’re looking for role models or people that you can aspire to be that don’t sound like who you are or your family, you get discouraged. What happens then is a lot of people end up leave the field.
It’s perhaps particularly noteworthy then that Askew, who has rather moved up in the tech world, was one of the people to speak to GW students who will soon be embarking on their own professional journeys. The university prepares a nationally recognized number of women in STEM who will also seek to reverse gender trends. The Financial Times recently named GWSB #1 for percentage of women enrolled in a full-time MBA program in the United States. In fact, GWSB was one of two American institutions with a majority of women in their class.
“I think that’s such a reason, a great reason, why the sponsorship of Globant makes so much sense for so many reasons for our institution,” Riddle said.
The three panelists shared their origin stories of how they progressed at a company where they are in the statistical minority. Although they made no secret of the challenges that sometimes came with it, they encouraged students to take risks, work hard enough to become the most desirable worker possible, and build relationships with people at the same time. in the field and outside.
It can open doors professionally and keep them open for others.
Ramesh is now the founder and CEO of a supply chain software platform called Succhi, Inc.. She described it as a new era business management system that allows companies to democratize access to internal and external users. As an immigrant who proudly wears this part of herself, Ramesh counts her blessings as being someone who has motivated people from all walks of life around her to influence her worldview and shape her path in the field. .
“It’s always inspiring to hear other stories,” said Ramesh, winner of the Technology Entrepreneur Award. “I think for me, obviously, having people around you and watching inspiring stories of other women who are building is a big part of my journey that has influenced who I have become.”
Rising Star Award recipient Senthilnathan is in the early stages of building her tech career. Coming from an underserved and underfunded high school, she took matters into her own hands by founding private, a smartwatch alert system where the user can notify friends and family if they are in a dangerous population. Senthilnathan, currently a student at the Colorado School of Mines, created the tool to help vulnerable populations, especially women facing harassment and sexual assault.
She believes that while the end goal is a gender-neutral field for women and minorities in STEM, it has yet to be achieved, noting that she is often both the only woman and the only person of color. in a machine shop. To get there, she said, there must be more opportunities for nonwhite men to lead.
“Having women, other minority communities in mind, I think we can really bridge that gap together,” said Senthilnathan, who does just that with women like Askew and Ramesh.
Not only would more women and diversity in tech provide greater representation, but Askew believes having a variety of voices would also improve the overall product, as more viewpoints and ideas would drive to greater innovation. After all, technology is a field that, despite its rapid growth, requires certain statistics to change.
“Otherwise, we won’t move forward as a company or in technology in general,” Askew said.
George talks business is hosted by the GW School of Business, interviewing C-Suite executives, government leaders, entrepreneurs and alumni. The program runs every semester and is available at Youtube.