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July 7, 2015

Q&A: How tech is changing the masculine profile of the industry

Emma de Sousa, UK Managing Director at Insight, talks to CBR about women in tech and how it's vital that women challenge their own perceptions.

By Ellie Burns

Sexism has been front and centre in the media this week, with a tweet from the Football Association, intended to welocme back the England Women’s World Cup team, labelled sexist and patronising.

The tweet, which read "Our #lionesses go back to being mothers, partners and daughters, but they have taken on another title – heroes", could be interpreted as exhibiting legacy sterotypical views of a women working in what is considered a male job.

This is not isolated to the world of football, as it is seen in many professions – none more so than in business and technology. CBR took the opportunity to sit down with Emma de Sousa, UK Managing Director at Insight, to discuss the role of woemen in business and technology.

As de Sousa proves, with her 10 years experience, leadership of over 800 staff and generation of sales in excess of $500m, the world of business and technology needs to wake up to the success women can bring.

 

EB: The simple truth is that women are outnumbered by men in business and technology – why do you think this is?

"I think there are some professions that have become associated with a particular gender but this tends to evolve over time as industries become more mature and require a full spectrum of skill sets, irrespective of sex.

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"Technology has typically been associated with a masculine profile but as the sector is becoming more and more mainstream – and as people from toddler age upwards, interact with devices, applications and the cloud – I think this is likely to change and change quickly."

EB: How can we get more women into business and technology?

"By better communicating the role of technology in our everyday lives. What’s exciting about tech is the vast amount of innovation/change in the industry and the impact this has on our everyday lives.

"There are very few other industries that change the way we live and work in the way that technology has, does and will continue to do. In just a few short years we have seen changes to how we communicate with each other, treat the sick, shop, manage our finances and so on.

"What’s becoming clear is this fast paced, creative environment isn’t gender exclusive and in order to close the gap women need to better understand the career opportunities presented in the tech sector."

EB: There is comparitavely few women sitting at the board level. Why do you think this is?

"A few years ago this wouldn’t even have been a discussion topic let alone a question in a Q&A with a female executive in the technology industry!

"The fact that it is a topic of discussion means a career path has been paved for women wanting to pursue a career at board/c-level, which is fantastic.

"In fact there’s a significant amount of evidence showing a mix of genders at board level has a positive impact on the business, and I am pleased to see the tech industry largely leading the way for women in leadership roles.

"I predict that in a few years’ time the balance of women (vs. men) at board level in the technology industry, will have adjusted."

EB: Do you think gender really holds women back from success in the workplace?

"Possibly but in my own experience it shouldn’t, my gender has certainly never held me back. And today, more so than when I started my career, there are plenty of female role models in the technology sector for young women to aspire to. Meg Whitman, CEO at Hewlett Packard, Soni Jiandani at Cisco and Angela Ahrendts at Apple to name a few."

EB: What would you say is one of the main challenges facing women working in the tech industry?

"Unfortunately its often their own perceptions – of themselves, the industry and what they will bring to a role in technology.

"Having had a great career in the sector for over 10 years and watched the ups and downs of the industry, I would encourage women to seriously consider the advantages of a career in tech; whether that be retail, consumer, B2B or software tech.

"The roles and opportunities presented are endless."

EB; What advice would you share with women who are thinking of, or have just entered, the tech industry?

"Treat it like any other opportunity, give it your best, apply your skills and most importantly believe in yourself"

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