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8 March 2023

International women’s day 2023 | Let’s embrace equity

Amelia Collins-Patel

On this International Women’s Day, I am thrilled to celebrate not only the incredible achievements of women worldwide but also my two-year anniversary at Hippo. To honour this year’s theme of ‘Embrace Equity,’ I had the privilege of speaking with inspiring women from the Ethnic Minorities Community here at Hippo. As women from diverse backgrounds working in tech, from Developers to User Researchers, we came together to share our perspectives on International Women’s Day.

The challenges 

Before we dive into the thoughts of this incredible community, let’s hear from Shanice, who has bravely shared her experiences of the tech industry and the changes that need to happen.

‘As the world becomes more digital and technology-driven, being a woman in tech comes with a wealth of benefits. Women bring unique perspectives and experiences to the field, which can lead to more creative and innovative solutions to complex problems. In addition, being a woman in tech means having the opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects, collaborate with experts in the field, and potentially earn a high salary.

Despite these benefits, women in tech have faced numerous struggles, including gender bias, discrimination, and a lack of representation at all levels of the industry. For example, research by women in tech found that ‘women in technology only occupied 23.5% of the top-paying jobs and are less likely to be promoted to leadership positions. This can create a hostile and unwelcoming work environment and can discourage women from pursuing careers in tech.

However, the world is changing, and it is becoming increasingly important for the tech industry to be more inclusive and diverse and to embrace equality. Companies prioritising diversity and inclusion tend to be more innovative, profitable, and successful overall. By creating a culture of inclusivity, companies can attract and retain top talent, improve employee satisfaction, and build a more resilient and adaptable workforce.

Moreover, being inclusive and diverse means recognising and addressing the challenges women and other underrepresented groups face in tech. It means providing support, mentorship, and training opportunities to help women advance their careers and achieve their goals. It means advocating for policies and practices that support closing the gender pay gap, providing equal opportunities, and equal treatment for all employees, regardless of gender, race, or other factors.’

Celebrating our differences

Reflecting on what Shanice has said, it demonstrates the importance of recognising and celebrating our differences is essential for creating a more inclusive and equitable society. It’s time to move away from the tendency to generalise and remember that each of us has a unique set of experiences and perspectives that deserve respect and acknowledgement.

For instance, according to the ‘Ethnic minority representation in IT report, black women are significantly underrepresented in the tech industry. While diversity and inclusion efforts are gaining traction, we still have a way to go to level the playing field for all ethnic minorities. However, progress begins with acknowledging and valuing the diversity that each individual brings to the table, regardless of factors such as location, disabilities, job level, and more.

As we continue to strive towards a more inclusive and just society, let’s remember to recognise and celebrate the unique experiences and perspectives of each and every individual.

Gaëlle, a user researcher, gave an example:

“For most women, passion in the workplace can sometimes be stereotypically perceived as ‘over-emotional’ and thus ignored. For black women, this can be perceived as ‘aggressive’, and you can find yourself regarded as “not a team player”.

Breaking Barriers

Breaking down barriers to create a more inclusive tech industry is more important than ever. Unfortunately, women and ethnic minorities face many obstacles when it comes to entering this field. It’s disheartening to hear that many don’t consider tech as a career simply because they don’t see many people who look like them in the industry. But it’s not all doom and gloom. We believe that by embracing equality and promoting diversity, the tech industry can become a more welcoming and inclusive place for all. 

Therefore, we’ve put together our top five tips for women and ethnic minorities who are considering a career in tech. With the right mindset, support, and guidance, you can break through those barriers and achieve your goals.

(1) Don’t be afraid to ask for help:

The tech industry can be intimidating, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s a wealth of resources available to support your growth and learning, from mentors to online communities. Take advantage of these resources to get the guidance you need to succeed.

(2) Build a portfolio:

Creating a portfolio of your work can be a great way to showcase your skills and stand out to potential employers. Whether it’s a personal website or a GitHub repository, having a portfolio can help demonstrate your experience and expertise.

(3) Find a mentor and a community:

Look for a mentor who understands the industry and can provide guidance on your career path. If possible, try to find mentors who share your background and experiences. Joining a community in tech can also be helpful for making connections, finding support, and learning from others who are facing similar challenges.

(4) Learn continuously: 

Technology is constantly changing, so it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest skills and trends. Take advantage of online courses, workshops, and conferences to stay informed and keep your skills relevant.

(5) Be confident:

Imposter Syndrome can be a real obstacle, but don’t let it hold you back. You belong in tech just as much as anyone else, so be proud of your skills and abilities. Remember that your unique perspective and experiences can be valuable assets in this industry.

Finding your community is key in tech, and that’s something we all agreed on. The industry is constantly evolving, and it’s important to prioritise diversity and inclusivity every day, not just on International Women’s Day. Speaking of which, what does this day mean to you? For some, it represents freedom and equality, a reminder of the courageous women who fought for the rights we now enjoy. Others see it as an opportunity to recognise the often-unseen work of women, particularly mothers. And for another, it’s a day to learn from history and work towards greater freedoms for women in the Global South. However you interpret it, it’s clear that there’s still work to be done in achieving equality for women around the world and across all industries, including tech.

My perspective on being a mixed-race woman in the industry

As a mixed-race woman in tech, embracing equality is not just a one-day affair for me. It’s an everyday commitment to speaking up and advocating for a more inclusive workplace. In my two years at Hippo, I’ve witnessed significant progress in our Engineering and Data portfolio, with an increasing number of women joining the team.

Being a woman in tech comes with its own set of challenges, but the rewards are equally fulfilling. It’s crucial for the tech industry to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusivity to create a better future for everyone. I had the privilege of interviewing Gaëlle Ebongo, Kana Higashino, Shanice Basra, and Solomi Gurung, and their insights and experiences have only reaffirmed my belief in the importance of advocating for equality in the tech industry.