Women at the top in global technology to tackle “dismal” diversity figures

Women at the top of the global technology industry will seize the opportunities presented by an event in Hull to tackle the “dismal” figures for diversity in the sector.

Jo Fleming

Tech Expo, which takes place at the Bonus Arena on Tuesday 9 November and is part of Tech Week Humber, will bring together women from some of the biggest tech brands locally and internationally for a “Women in Technology” panel aimed at addressing the imbalance.

Texas-based Dr Melissa Sassi will take part in her role as Chief Penguin of Student & Entrepreneur Experience within the IBM Z division of IBM and Global Head of IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator.

She cited research from 2020 by the AnitaB.org Institute – a California-based organisation for women technologists – which said only 28.8 per cent of the tech workforce is made up of women despite constituting half of the overall workforce. In addition, less than three per cent of venture-funded startups are women.

Melissa said: “The results are still dismal despite recognising that the profitability of firms increases when women leaders have a seat at the table. We must all foster career paths for women in tech, as there is no difference between the capabilities and strengths of women in the workforce compared to their male counterparts.

“As a woman in tech and tech startup founder, I encourage us all to look beyond existing biases and rise up to break the glass ceiling that continues to impact half the workforce. Join our panel to discover insights from me and our panelists to do just that. See you there!”

Speakers from Amazon, Apple, Deliveroo, HSBC and Microsoft are also being lined up for the session and will be joined by Lindsay Rodgers, who has worked her way up during 28 years at KCOM to become the company’s Director of Digital Transformation.

Lindsay, who is also a member of the Humber Digital Skills Partnership delivered by the Hull and East Yorkshire LEP, said: “At a time when technology skills and especially digital skills are more in demand than ever it is essential that we all question why half of the population is still so underrepresented in the industry.

“We must look at all aspects of this; attracting women into the tech industry, ensuring the right skills are developed for tech roles and ensuring companies have a diverse and inclusive culture to retain employees within those roles.

“The skills, experience and perspectives that women bring to tech need to be recognised and valued and we need more great, visible role models to help bring careers in technology to life for women.  I am really looking forward to discussing this with the other panellists at the women in tech session. Join the discussion, we need to talk about this!”

Jo Fleming, co-founder of Tech Expo organiser GBE Connect, said the aim of Tech Week Humber is to showcase the digital strength of the Hull and Humber region, encourage greater participation in the sector and promote education and training to develop skills.

Jo said: “It’s about inspiring future generations of men and women, no matter what kind of upbringing and start you have had in life. I had children very young but was still able to build a career. It’s never game over.

“We hope that by bringing global influencers in the technology sector into our city we will open up people’s eyes to the fact that anything is possible.

“People have to keep aspiring to push forward and succeed. You have got to be focused on what you want and surround yourself with people who can help you achieve that and who inspire you as well.”

Google Digital Garage is also playing a key part in the Tech Week Humber programme and headline partners include Hull-based ultra-fast broadband provider Connexin and Hull City Council as well as the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC).

Ahmed Bin Sulayem

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DMCC, said: “Our world is moving at unprecedented speed, with new technologies revolutionising how we live, work, trade and communicate. DMCC is already home to some of the world’s most ambitious companies that continually push the boundaries of what’s possible. The growth of our Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange – now powered by Nasdaq and a full suite of integrated marketplace solutions – is the perfect example.

“With 19,000 registered members companies, DMCC provides a frontier to new possibilities and whilst we are interested in the state of the tech market today, what is more important to us is where the market will be tomorrow. DMCC is where it is today precisely because it builds for the future, anticipates shifting market demands and always remains one step ahead of the curve.

“Simply put, Tech Week Humber cannot be missed. DMCC will have a strong presence at the event, and we will engage directly with the hundreds of game changers in attendance. We have high hopes for Tech Week Humber, and will be sure to maximise the opportunity to drive DMCC’s ambitious innovation agenda.”

Tech Week Humber is a free event. To find out more and to register visit www.techweekhumber.com