Insights 8th March 2021

Role Models in Technology, What do They Look Like?

Role models serve as our examples, heroes, mentors, guides and sometimes even idols. For the future generation of aspiring and ambitious females, having strong women leaders to look up to can be crucial when envisioning and pursuing success in countless fields.

According to the World Economic Forum (Jan 2021), the most significant challenge preventing the economic gender gap from closing is women’s under-representation in emerging roles.

In today’s climate, technology can play a role in promoting diversity in the workplace, given its ability to change working relationships, encourage transparency and connect people worldwide. In a continuous flux period, organisations can prioritise a more diverse and inclusive culture to solve the problems within the market and contribute to their customers’ success in a socio-economic landscape.

Having a more human and transparent approach is something we can all take away from our past year’s experiences. When authenticity and empathy are vital leadership skills in today’s challenging circumstances, what encourages and empowers the future females of technology? What does a role model look like in technology?

They are inspiring

A 2019 study by PwC reported that more than a quarter of female A-Level and university students stated they had been put off a career in technology because it was ‘too male dominated’. Fewer than 25% could name a famous woman working in tech, compared to two thirds who could name a famous man.

As a young, ambitious female in technology, I feel we need to know our opinions, and our unique experiences are marketable and highly valued in the tech field. And that begins from feeling inspired by our role models, taking the plunge, being vocal about our ideas, and feeling inspired to do so.

Our brains are naturally wired to connect and mirror the behaviour of others. Role models provide a vision, and visual proof, for who we aspire to be.

They set an example

When you see desirable values, traits, language, and behaviour in others, your brain instinctively wants to copy it.

As we embark on our professional careers, we rely on role models for inspiration, guidance and reassurance that we aren’t alone; we look to leaders who reflect on us in some way or another to prove that we too can achieve our dreams. By observing successful role models, we grow confident in our ability to rise to the top despite any potential barriers that may stand in the way.

They believe in diversity & inclusion.

According to McKinsey & Company, diversity can increase economic performance by as much as 2.2 times for profitability and two times stock valuation.

Embracing an inclusive mindset attracts diverse talent into the technology industry, allowing a whole range of individuals to thrive in a new career, and in the long term, protect the industry from stagnation.

More than eight out of 10 female millennials in the UK say they seek out employers with a strong record on diversity, equality and inclusion, according to research (Guardian, 2020).

The improving focus on workplace diversity and inclusion is slowly but surely paving the way for change.

They upskill & mentor

I once read, ‘An effective mentor encourages the exercise that mistakes are a learning opportunity that fosters positive’ – and that is something that has stuck with me.

The female brain is naturally wired for long-term strategic vision and community building. Therefore, a role model should nurture these natural competencies to allow the future generation to flourish and grow in a new digital age.

We have seen first-hand the COVID-19 global pandemic has accelerated the momentum of digital transformation.  Instead of allowing digital disruptions in the workplace to cast females aside, mentoring, nurturing and upskilling presents a straightforward way to build an advantage in challenging times and drastically speeds up progress on diversity.

They are considered a thought leader.

Being a Role Model in tech means being equally balanced in bringing your unique voice as an inspirational technologist as much as it means bringing your whole self – your human skills – and being an influence in business.

Thought leadership has the mechanisms to inspire, thought-provoke and attract more females into the tech industry.

The number of women on boards has risen 50%, from 682 to 1,026 in five years (BBC 2021). The figures were released by the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review, which was launched in 2016 to encourage UK-listed companies to appoint more senior women.

With more women increasingly coming into top positions, thought leadership enables visibility to females’ opportunities while ensuring more equitable, inclusive and representative executive decisions.

They are Motivating

Role models actively show a level of commitment, drive and energy that transcribes to you.  A role model is a certain standard, a goal, which I want to achieve; they have proved that the life of my dream is possible. Having a direction in life motivates us to work on ourselves and become who we want to be. Consistent motivation and encouragement are empowering and is the key to being an excellent example of a role model.

Tackling female empowerment by working with both women and men is not a new concept, but it deserves a more significant focus.

As Kamala Harris said in her first speech as Vice President-Elect, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a world of possibilities.”

Given this year’s International Women’s Day theme is #ChooseToChallenge, collectively, as the future generational leaders, we must continue to seek to challenge the stereotypes within technology. As we have seen from some of the likes of Ada love lace, Annie Easley and many other inspiring women in technology – anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

Listen to more on the importance of Role Models in Technology here.

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