At Navigate North America 2024, we held a panel discussion with leading figures in the Austin tech community, Emily Gupton, Ahna Boley, Megan Murray, and Numa Dhamani. Through this session, they were able to tackle topics surrounding the diverse pathways women take in their tech careers and the challenges they overcome.

The tech industry, often perceived as a male-dominated field, presents numerous hurdles for women, such as overcoming gender biases to securing leadership roles. This session delved deeper into the panelists' stories, shedding light on the significance of mentorship, and the critical role that community support plays in fostering a more inclusive environment.

Join us as we explore strategies to enhance diversity and inclusion in tech, taking examples from Emily Gupton, Ahna Boley, Megan Murray, and Numa Dhamani’s journey.

Challenges faced by women in tech

Looking into the challenges faced by women in tech, the panelist of speakers shared personal insights that illustrate the multifaceted challenges faced by women in tech. This allowed them to touch upon topics such as unconscious bias, accessibility to leadership roles, and the cultural and structural changes needed.

Bias and representation

One of the recurring themes discussed by the panelists was the issue of bias and underrepresentation. Numa Dhamani, Principle Machine Learning Engineer, highlighted the sometimes subtle yet impactful biases that can affect women’s career trajectories. She shared “It’s about fighting to stay technical. I’ve seen so many women pushed towards roles that are deemed more 'appropriate' like project management or client relations, which can sideline their technical contributions."

In confronting the challenge of bias and underrepresentation, the importance of creating an equitable workplace that truly values diversity cannot be overstated. Emily Gupton pointed out, "Even when women are in the room, there’s a tendency for their voices to be overlooked or minimized. We need to cultivate an environment where every contribution is valued equally, and women feel empowered to speak up."

The discussion also touched on the broader implications of bias in tech product development. Numa illustrated this with a compelling example:

"If we don't have diverse teams, the products and technologies we develop can end up perpetuating the very biases we're trying to eliminate. This isn’t just a workplace issue; it's about the impact our work has on society at large."

To combat these pervasive issues, the panelists advocated for intentional strategies such as bias training, the implementation of more robust diversity and inclusion policies, and active recruitment from a broader talent pool. This topic was further explored by Aakansha Priya during Navigate North America 2024:

Access to leadership roles

Ahna Boley discussed the glass ceiling that still exists for many women aspiring to leadership roles. "The higher you go, the fewer women you see," Ahna noted, stressing the isolation that often comes with being one of the few women in tech leadership. This lack of representation not only affects individual women but also influences the culture and policies within organizations, which may not fully address the needs and potential of a diverse workforce.

Panelists spoke about some of the ways to help combat these issues such as curating leadership development programs tailored for women, opportunities for high-impact roles, and creating networks that connect women across the industry to share strategies for advancement. As Numa Dhamani summarized it,

"Organizations that invest in developing female leaders not only advance gender equity but also drive better business outcomes through diverse leadership thinking."

Mentorship and networking opportunities

The importance of mentorship and networking was another critical issue raised during the panel. Emily Gupton pointed out, "Finding mentors who can guide you and open doors is crucial, but women often have fewer networking opportunities, which can limit their career growth."

The panelists discussed how women could be proactive in seeking out mentorship opportunities, even in environments where these might not be readily offered. Numa Dhamani shared an actionable approach:

"Don’t wait for a mentor to find you. Seek out leaders whose careers inspire you, and ask them for specific advice or to share their journey with you. It’s about being bold and taking charge of your own growth."

Megan Murray highlighted the importance of women engaging in tech communities, both online and offline: "Joining tech groups, attending conferences, and participating in forums are all crucial. These venues are where you often meet allies and champions who can open doors you didn’t even know existed."

Some of our favorite tech meetups that you can check out include, Austin Women in Technology, Cloud Native London, and Disruptive Tech.

Your next big networking opportunity

As we consider the progress and ongoing challenges in creating a more inclusive environment for women in tech, it's clear that continuous dialogue and community engagement are crucial. If you want to learn more about these topics and explore what the future holds for the tech industry, join us at Civo Navigate Europe 2024 in Berlin, Germany.

📅 September 10th and 11th

📌 Berlin, Germany, at ECC Berlin (Estrel Congress Center)

Now is your chance to grab limited Super Early Bird tickets, allowing you to reserve your spot at Navigate Europe 2024 for an incredible value. Secure your place for just €100! Don't miss this opportunity to be part of the Civo Navigate experience in Berlin, Germany.