Women fill nearly half of all jobs in the U.S, but only 24 percent of technology jobs are occupied by women. And only 20 percent of Fortune 500 CIO positions were held by women in 2016, according to recent research from the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
But there is a generation of innovative women executives pushing for change, fighting for opportunity, and who aren’t taking no for an answer. March 9 was International Women’s Day and a perfect opportunity to reflect on the state of women in technology and what better place to find out what about women in tech care about them from the women themselves.
So we asked them. Free Enterprise spoke to five women executives and business leaders in Technology fields to let us know what they wish people would stop asking them, and what they wish they would. Here’s what they said:
Hilary M. Cain, Director, Technology and Innovation Policy, TOYOTA
“I’m always willing to answer questions or have a discussion about being a woman working in technology. Certainly, if we want to increase the representation of women and foster an inclusive work environment, we have to be willing to engage in an honest dialogue. But we should be asking men the same questions we ask women. For example, it’s fine to ask me about the challenges I face trying to balance my career and my family. Just be sure to also ask my male colleagues about the challenges they face (or should be facing) in balancing the two.”
Dr. Renee Dua, Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Heal
“STOP asking: How do we do it all? I think that is a silly question. As women, we are often the primary caretaker, have jobs, are dealing with lives of our partners and our kids and are very good at multi-tasking. I have yet to meet a woman who is not good at adulting. Of course, we are going to get things done because what is the alternative?”
“START asking: What part of the product did you help design? I rarely get asked, or have the chance to talk about, my involvement in creating and designing products for Heal. Being able to work with the teams, and being aligned with team members, that build Heal’s technology is the part of my career that I enjoy most. We all work closely together to build tools that our doctors and patients use and it has been a joy to be able to do this.”
Meghan Gaffney Buck, CEO, Veda Data Solutions
“The question I’m never asked but I would love to answer is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Entrepreneurs are restless and I never get enough opportunities to slow down and think about my ability to impact the tech industry beyond my role at VEDA. There are visionary women leading companies and investment funds, but certainly not enough. I’m excited to talk with anyone who is smart and can help me craft my path in the industry for the next 20 years.”
“Let’s stop asking women about work impacting their family. I’m a mom of two kids, but my business partner is also a dad. We have the same work ethic, the same family obligations and the same desire to be home to eat dinner with our kids and tuck them in before bed. I’m the only one that is ever asked about my family. As a CEO, I’ve created a work environment that allows every employee to have a life outside of the office. It’s something I’m proud of because it benefits the men and women that work for VEDA.”
Cathy Main, Vice President Corporate Relations, NSS Labs, Inc.
“The one question that I would like to answer but am never asked is, “what we can do to move forward?”
Get involved. Get out of your comfort zone. Believe in yourself and others will too. And focus on the things that matter.”
Lauren Belive, Director, Federal Government Relations, Lyft
“One question I would love to answer is how non-traditional technology backgrounds can have a tremendous effect on the tech industry overall. As more and more businesses work to examine how technology will make positive impacts on people’s lives, it will be important for companies to hire diverse talent in order to create more inclusive brands.”
“Women from non-traditional tech backgrounds will bring much value to emerging companies as they look to succeed in this ever-growing market and create value for their users.”