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Breaking Barriers and Empowering Women in Tech: Insights From Boomi World 2024

Female executives share experiences, challenges, and advice for overcoming bias and navigating the male-dominated tech industry.

The technology industry has long been male-dominated, with women facing numerous challenges and barriers to entry and advancement. However, as the demand for diverse perspectives and skills grows, more women are making their mark in the tech world. At Boomi World 2024, a panel of female executives shared their experiences, insights, and advice on navigating the tech industry as women.

The panel, moderated by Lisa Martin, included Shari Lava, Research Director/Analyst at IDC; Nicki Brock, Senior Director of Enterprise Applications at Kore Wireless; Karen Dosanjh, CMO at OSI Digital; Kate Stables, Head of Technolgy at Fever-Tree; and Alison Biggan, CMO at Boomi.

The Nonlinear Path to Tech

The panelists' diverse backgrounds highlight the importance of embracing unique perspectives and skill sets in the tech world. Karen Dosanjh shared, "I fell into tech by accident. I don't have a technology background. I'm a marketer, but I'm learning daily on the job." Similarly, Kate Stables studied religion and theology before transitioning to a management degree and eventually finding her way to tech through the hospitality industry.

These diverse backgrounds highlight the importance of embracing unique perspectives and skill sets in the tech world. Nicki Brock pointed out, "I remind myself that I hire the men on my team because they are great at what they do, and they're experts in their areas of focus." By valuing the strengths and experiences of all team members, regardless of gender, companies can foster a more inclusive and innovative environment.

Persistent Barriers and Biases 

Women in tech continue to face discrimination, limited opportunities, and the “motherhood penalty.” Karen Dosanjh shared a shocking story about what she experienced, stating, "When I announced my pregnancy at work, I noticed that opportunities stopped coming to me." This experience is not uncommon, with many women facing discrimination and limited opportunities due to assumptions about their ability to balance work and family responsibilities.

Nicki Brock also highlighted the lack of representation at the leadership level, stating, "I work for an organization that's 80% male overall. It's 85% male at the executive level, and I'm very vocal about that." This gender imbalance can perpetuate biases and limit opportunities for women to advance in their careers.

Speaking Up and Seeking Allies 

To combat barriers, the panelists emphasized the importance of self-advocacy and seeking out allies and champions. Kate Stables shared an example of a boss who recognized the pay gap between her and her male colleagues and took action to rectify it. "I think everything that we're doing in terms of trying to be the role model, be authentic, create the space for these conversations to happen is about being an ally," she said.

Alison Biggan also stressed the importance of using data to drive change and hold organizations accountable. "If you think about Nicki's situation, the accountability coming around the other side to say, 'Why no promotion? Why not pay equity?' We all have allies and people who are supportive. Make sure you use them also to support the conversation," she advised.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

The panelists shared their experiences with imposter syndrome and strategies for overcoming self-doubt. Shari Lava shared her approach: "I remind myself that most people there want me to succeed. The men in the room, the women in the room, most people there want you to succeed."

Karen Dosanjh added, "I think trying to be a better mentor as a woman now and opening the door for other women, working with young women, sharing our learnings or lessons, being such a life experience of work experience, sharing that with the next generation has been a big part of what matters to me."

Supporting the Next Generation

By mentoring and supporting the next generation of women in tech, these leaders are helping to break down barriers and create a more inclusive industry. As Nicki Brock stated, "We have to keep speaking up. We have to keep doing it day after day after day. As exhausting as it is, we must keep doing it in the workplace."

Navigating Unsupportive Female Colleagues

The panel also addressed the challenges of working with unsupportive female colleagues, a topic often overlooked in discussions about gender equality in tech. Shari Lava shared her experience: "The first women in tech that had risen above me, I found a bit, in hindsight, I feel bad for them. They had to blaze a trail. They had all of these expectations put on them, and then we came after them, and we still had it hard, but we haven't even a little easier than they did."

Alison Biggan advised, "I think you just have to, in many ways, sort of take the high road and say, 'You know, I'm here to try to make us more successful, the company more successful, you more successful.' And you know, some people will never get over that."

The panelists' experiences and insights highlight the ongoing challenges and opportunities for women in the tech industry. By speaking up, seeking allies, and supporting one another, women can break down barriers and create a more inclusive and equitable industry.

As Kate Stables noted, "I think it's awareness. A lot of people don't know. People aren't aware if you don't bring the data or show what's happening. So telling people what allyship looks like, expanding what that looks like, is a crucial part of what we're doing."

Driving Change Through Awareness

By sharing their stories and advice, the panelists at Boomi World 2024 are contributing to awareness and inspiring the next generation of women in tech to pursue their passions and break through barriers. Companies and individuals must prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion as the industry evolves to create a stronger, more innovative tech community.

As the tech industry continues evolving, companies and individuals must prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion to create a stronger, more innovative tech community. By taking action and supporting initiatives that empower women in tech, we can work towards a future where gender equality is the norm and every individual has the opportunity to thrive and succeed in their chosen field.


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